Representing you in Congress is a big job, and you deserve to know a bit about me if I want to be your congressman. So here goes.
My mom and dad grew up in the 1950s in Owensboro Kentucky. They met in a church Christmas play where my Dad played Joseph and my mom played Mary. They became high school sweethearts, got married, and 60 years later they still live in the house where I grew up with my sister in Virginia.
Before my parents settled down in Virginia, we were a military family. Both of my mom's brothers served in the Army. My mom's older brother Bill was called back into service during the Berlin airlift. My mom's younger brother David served in Vietnam. My father was in the Navy. He went to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, and then commanded a EC121K early warning and control radar aircraft based out of Pearl Harbor. While dad was on active duty in Hawaii, I was born in the same hospital where Barack Obama was born, Queens hospital on Oahu. I remember when Donald Trump was going on about President Obama's birth certificate, claiming he wasn't an American. I remember that because President Obama's birth certificate looked exactly like mine. It came from the same hospital. I didn't think very highly of Trump when he did that. In fact, I still don't.
We moved around a bit when I was young, but my dad eventually went into the Naval reserves, and we settled in Northern Virginia where I went to school.
During middle school and high school, I was in a youth church group at Saint Luke's Episcopal Church. I think kids are very impressionable at that age, and I was no exception. Maybe it was because of the times, this was the early 70s, but our youth pastors Jim and John really emphasized the part of Christianity that involves God's love, and loving each other. You know, the Golden Rule. That's the part of Church that has really stuck with me all these years. I think that's why I'm still in touch with some of my friends from that church group. I still believe that if we aren't focused in on loving each other, we are missing the point.
In Virginia, you couldn't have a real job until you were 15 1/2, so when I was a young kid, I delivered newspapers, the Washington Post, and mowed lawns for money. But the day I turned 15 1/2, I was hired as a prep cook and a dishwasher at the Sir Walter Raleigh Inn on Route 1. I've been working ever since. When I was younger, I used to think that made me a hard worker. But I've since met many, many people who started working the fields picking crops when they were 5 and 6 years old. Now I know who are the real hard workers in this country. One of the reasons I am running is because I think we need to do much, much better by the people and their families who have moved to Washington over the past 30 years to work in the fields in Eastern Washington. I will have a lot to say about that as the campaign goes forward.
I left Virginia when I graduated from high school and went to college at the University of Utah, where I joined a fraternity, Phi Sigma Kappa. The guys in our house didn't just come from all over the country, some of them came from all over the world. We learned how to get along in close quarters with a bunch of guys from different cultures, different religions, and different ethnicities. My friends from college don't always agree with each other, but we stay in touch. They are the best guys you could ever know.
At Utah, I was a double major, finance and management, and I also picked up an MBA. It was a great time to go to college. American taxpayers still supported higher education, and Utah let you have in-state tuition after your first year. My tuition was less than $500 a quarter. I could literally pay a whole semester's tuition with 5 or 6 good bartending shifts. We need to make college that affordable again. As the campaign moves forward, I will have a lot to say about making college affordable again and ending the student loan debt that is crippling our economy.
After Utah, I went to law school at Willamette University in Oregon, where I met my wife Stacey. When we finished law school, jobs were tight. We graduated right in the middle of the recession that followed the first Gulf War. Law firms in Seattle and Portland were laying people off, but Stacey had worked in a prosecutor's office during law school. We were fortunate that Andy Miller offered Stacey a job. So we came to Tri-Cities. While I could easily afford college, law school was expensive. When we arrived in Tri-Cities, we didn't know anyone, we had $70,000 in student loans between the two of us, everything we owned was piled into a U Haul trailer, and I didn't even have a job.
Fortunately, Washington State had just taken over the campus out by Hanford High, and the brand new business department needed someone to teach finance. They put an ad in the Tri-City Herald, and I answered it. Since I had an MBA and a law degree, David Lemak and Tom Tripp, who were both brand new to the program themselves, gave me a job teaching business law and finance at the WSU branch campus. I spent the next ten years teaching with those guys, and we used the money from WSU to pay off our student loans. Tom, Dave and I would have long nights talking politics. Since Dave was the head of the Mainstream Republicans, that kept things lively. We all became lifelong friends.
Right after WSU gave me a job, I got another job doing construction litigation, but within a year, I had moved to the Pacific Northwest National Lab, (PNNL) where I started working in the Legal and Contracts department. I worked my way up to become a patent lawyer drafting patent applications, and for a time, the vast majority of PNNL's licensing revenue flowed through patents I had either written, or helped prosecute. After five years, I left the lab to join a start up that had been spun out of the lab, and used that opportunity to start a private law practice. I was gratified when PNNL, the largest employer in Central Washington, signed on to be my first client. I continued to prosecute patent applications for PNNL as an attorney in private practice for another 15 years, which gave me some real insight into the science and technology that is developed at our National Labs. At the same time, I began to move back into civil litigation in the state and federal courts.
During that time, Stacey and I had four sons. Here is a picture of us last winter at a Seahawks game. All four of my sons were born at Kadlec hospital, and all four of them graduated from Richland High. Right now, my oldest son Doug has a masters in computer science, and he is teaching at Central. All three of his brothers are currently going to school at WSU in Pullman. Caleb is set to graduate and has a job lined up at an accounting firm in Seattle. Ten years of working at the WSU branch campus here in Tri-Cities, and going to Dad's weekend for three kids on the Pullman campus have made me a fan; GO COUGS!
Somewhere along this time, I had represented a woman named Elizabeth in an employment matter. Elizabeth had called me again because she was getting sued in another matter for violating a non-compete agreement. I thought the plaintiff's case was without merit, but the non-compete agreement contained a fifty thousand dollar liquidated damages clause, and Elizabeth couldn't afford to have a fifty thousand dollar judgment against her. She was scared. Even if she won, just fighting the case was going to cost her way more than she could afford. Unfortunately, I think that is the real reason the case was filed. But before things got expensive, I brought a motion to have the case thrown out, and we won. I will never forget what happened next. After the judge ruled in our favor and threw the case out, we walked out into the hallway, and Elizabeth burst into tears and gave me a big hug. I'll never forget that moment, because the thought that went through my head was that even though I had made corporations millions of dollars, none of them had ever thanked me the way Elizabeth Smith just did that day in the Benton County courthouse. I decided from then on I was going to limit my practice to representing real people.
Now I represent Hanford workers who have been cheated out of their pensions. And I represent low income customers of the Franklin PUD who are being overcharged for their electricity. And I represent indigent clients in criminal cases. Some of these cases are long shots that other lawyers won't take on. But my clients deserve their day in Court, and I am going to make sure they get it. And at least once a month when we get a good result, one of my clients eyes will well up with tears, and they will tell me “thank you Mr. McKinley,” and I know I made the right choice.
So that's my story. That's how I got here and where I've been. But enough about me. Let's talk about you. I am running for Congress because I believe the federal government needs to help ordinary people live a better life, and Dan Newhouse and Donald Trump have pushed every step of the way to make sure it did the opposite. In the coming months, I will explain in detail exactly how forty years of the same trickle down, anti-worker, pro-corporate policies that Dan Newhouse and Donald Trump are forcing on all of us have made everyone's life harder except for a tiny cohort of multi-millionaires, and what we can do to change it.
Paid for by Douglas McKinley for Congress