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'Impossible? That's cool,' Donaldson says of run for Congress

Dr. Scott Donaldson talks about running for the 11th Congressional District. Dr. Scott Donaldson talks about running for the 11th Congressional District.

Scott Donaldson, a happy warrior who announced last week that he is running for Congress, laughs a lot and grins a lot.

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He chuckles and grins the broadest when a reporter asks him whether he gets that how impossible it would be for a Democrat to win in North Carolina’s heavily Republican 11th Congressional District.

“Impossible?” he repeats back, almost shouting with glee. “I love that kind of thing. Impossible task? Really? Oh yeah, that’s cool to me.”
What he lacks in campaign cash, political experience and name recognition he makes up for in confidence.
The 53-year-old urologist mocks the Freedom Caucus, the conservative faction of 40 or so Republicans that third-term incumbent Mark Meadows leads.
“I’m not sure what the freedom is from,” he says, before offering his own interpretation: “Freedom from new ideas, freedom from compromise?”
Donaldson returns to compromise over and over. Washington has become institutionally allergic to compromise, he says. He’s running to revive the concept.
Growing up in Charlotte, he saw his parents embrace the rise of conservativism in the 1970s and ’80s.
“My parents were good friends with Jesse Helms,” he says. “They were Moral Majority people, they met Reagan. They were heavy politically active.”
After graduating from Charlotte Christian School and N.C. State University, Donaldson earned his medical degree from East Carolina University and then completed his residency at Charity Hospital in New Orleans.
Here is the Hendersonville Lightning interview with Donaldson. A Pardee-affiliated physician, Donaldson is current chief of staff of Pardee Hospital.

How would you get things done in Washington?

“This whole Freedom Caucus in particular is a problem. They are not prone to compromise. I’m married, I have to compromise. I work for an employer, I have to compromise. I work for these employees, I have to compromise. Everyone compromises but this Freedom Caucus. … Nationally, the wingnuts are running us on both sides. I’m going to seek the middle ground. I have some values that are important to me but we have to compromise.”

Has the Freedom Caucus been a good thing for the 11th Congressional District?


“Not the people I’ve talked to. Of course what I see is health care. We see our president who was elected to repeal and replace. Eventually they come out with a plan. The president got mad at Mark Meadows and the Freedom Caucus for not supporting his plan. Well, Mark Meadows’ plan is catastrophically worse than the president’s plan. Donald Trump is a sideshow. He’s going to be gone in a certain amount of time. Congress runs this show and Congress is failing to compromise. Freedom Caucus is Tea Party with a different name. I don’t know what freedom is from — is it freedom from new ideas, freedom from compromise?”

What about health care?


“You can’t say that I’m going to put together a plan that’s going to be fulfilled. What I can say is I know where true north is in health care. I know where we have to be. We have to be in a single-payer system. I’ve been on all sides of this through my career. But I know in my soul, marrow deep, where we have to be is a single-payer system. What that exactly looks like I’m not sure. But I know that the only way you get control of pricing is when a bigger institution like the government gets to control prices.” He describes access to medical care as a front door-back door proposition. “The front door says you can come through that door at any time and I will see you. (If someone has no insurance and no money) what he ends up doing is going back to the back door, which is the emergency room. So if you look at outcomes, outcomes are directly related to access. If you don’t have front door access, you just aren’t going to do as well.”

The most current example of single-payer is Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for all bill.

“This is where you’re going to find me as a moderate. Bernie Sanders’ plan puts us $7 trillion more in debt. That doesn’t work. I don’t want to be called a tax-and-spend Democrat or I’m going to call him a tax cut and spend Republican. There’s no difference. You wind up in the same spot.”

Was Trump a factor in your decision to run?


“No, I can turn Donald Trump off. I think he’s a sideshow. I’m just worried my kids are not going to have health insurance. How can the Freedom Caucus say they’re for health insurance and not see that their health insurance is the biggest cost for anybody. … I won’t touch Medicare. But my kids don’t care what doctor they go to.”

You’ll need many checks to be competitive.


“I have to raise close to a million and a half dollars. I can’t do this without raising that kind of money. Because he’s got a lot more money than I do, the Koch brothers.”

Do you get the impossibility of this?


“Sure. Oh, yeah. Absolutely. Impossible? I love that kind of thing. Impossible task? Really? Oh yeah, that’s cool to me. I’m serious. Don’t you know there are flights worth losing? I want my kids to have health insurance. Mark Meadows is not gonna do that. He’s just not. … If you really believe these insurance companies give a rat’s a— about the end user you’re fooling yourself. They care about their profits coming through the door.” In the election landscape, “What I see is that, women in particular, they’re tired of Fox news, they’re tired of seeing their husbands angry about things they can’t fix. I hear that every day. I tell people to quit worshiping at the First Church of Fox News where Sean Hannity is a high priest. It’s amazing what we’ve come to, it’s just become more theater, not even good theater.”

You switched to the Democratic Party. You ran as an unaffiliated candidate for the Board of Commissioners in 2010.


“It’s a wonderful experience to run for any office. It’s amazing the people that come out and are gracious to you, even if they’re not going to vote for you.”