UVA Doctor Seeks Seat in Congress

Sep 30, 2020

The Fifth Congressional District, which runs from northern Virginia to the North Carolina border, was drawn to benefit Republican candidates.  In 2016, Donald Trump got 53% of the vote to Hilary Clinton’s 42%. 

This year, however, the Cook Political Report rates the congressional race a toss-up, with Democrat Cameron Webb trailing Republican Bob Good by a single point in the latest poll. 

Dr. Cameron Webb supports government health insurance for those who can't get private coverage and development of more solar and wind power, but he says he's no liberal.
Credit Cameron Webb

Thirty-seven-year-old Cameron Webb has a remarkable resume.  He completed both law school and medical school, then went on to serve as a White House fellow, advising Presidents Obama and Trump on health policy.  The third of six children raised in Spotsylvania County, he describes himself as a skilled peacemaker who is winning support from Democrats and Republicans.

“You drive down 29, you’ll see there are some yards that have Trump and Webb in the same yard,” he says.

As a doctor at UVA, he’s made healthcare the central issue of his campaign, and as an African-American, he’s counting on Black voters to come out in force to support him.

“There’s a natural connection and relationship in a lot of these communities because of the fact that my father-in-law is a pastor of a Black church in Southside," he explains, "and then also you see the enthusiasm with Senator Harris at the top of the ticket.”

A map of the 5th Congressional District

In the last congressional election, he says, there were thirty-eight thousand unregistered Black voters in the district and 33,000 who were registered but did not vote.  The woman who lost that race – Leslie Cockburn – was cast as a liberal, but Webb insists that term does not apply to him.   He does not, for example, support Medicare for All – preferring to keep our current system but make government health insurance available to anyone who needs it, and he isn’t a fan of the Green New Deal.  That said, he supports development of solar and wind power – but he sounds like a libertarian in explaining why.

“You know from a market perspective they’re cheaper than their fossil fuel alternatives. The jobs that are existent in a clean economy are significant, and that is part of that 21st century economy that moves us forward.” 

His opponent in this race, Bob Good, used to work at Liberty University and describes himself as a born-again Christian with a biblical world view.  That term might alarm some liberals, but Webb is unphased.

“I have a Biblical world view too, and I know that’s a big part of who I am.  I read the Bible to my kids every single night. That said, I never use my faith to oppress other individuals.  My world view is one of inclusivity, is one of unity. It’s also important that we move away from this notion that Christianity is the only moral authority in the United States.  That’s not right at all.” 

And for those who still doubt that Webb is a centrist, he told RadioIQ his political heroes include Barack Obama, civil rights icon John Lewis and Dwight Eisenhower.

“I went to his house in Gettysburg and met with his daughter and got to just see and hear about his approach. I think he had the right mentality about our politics.  I think that came from his time in the military, and it came from his perspective on what it means to be a Republican but be an American first.” 

On the subject of police reform, Webb says officers need better training and better pay.  He notes that his father worked for the Drug Enforcement Administration, but Cameron Webb would support legalization of marijuana, believing it will make our economy stronger and enable us to more effectively control who gets and uses the drug.

And might Webb get a boost from his former boss? Will Barack Obama campaign for him? The candidate is doubtful.  “Surprisingly he’s in high demand," he jokes.  "Who knew?  I thought he was retired.” 

And he figures Joe Biden will ask Obama to spend his time in swing states rather than the reliably blue Virginia. 

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.