I met Congressman Tom Garrett in September of 2016, at the time I was an angry, independent voter with a severe distrust of conservatives and anyone with an “R” next to their name. I approached him after the forum I had attended and questioned him on many divisive issues. He took the time to answer each of my questions, and didn’t feed me the answers I was looking for either. He had nothing to gain by taking the time to talk to someone who wasn’t even in his district, but he did so anyway.
A few weeks later after some serious thought, I got together with a friend who was working on Tom’s campaign and signed up to be an intern. I just wanted an easy gig so I could get a letter of recommendation, so I asked to just make phone calls. I didn’t expect much, but more ended up being expected of me. I was hired to make phone calls on a Friday morning and by the following Sunday night I was called and asked if I could replace the current campus chairman for the Students for Tom Garrett chapter at Liberty University. Frankly I wasn’t eager, I had managed an Independent campaign a cycle before, and lost, and I was a staffer for a Libertarian campaign a cycle before that, and I lost too. I didn’t want the pressure, I didn’t want to be under a microscope, and I also didn’t really want to deal with people.
The idiot I am, I took the position anyone and ended up being in charge of three full time interns and over a dozen other volunteers. A week after taking on the position, I went to a rally near the Longwood University campus where then State Senator Tom Garrett was speaking and went up to speak to him. I told him “I just wanted to do the right thing” and he looked at me and said, “Good, because we could use a few more good men.”
For the next month during the most hectic election cycle to date in American history, I planned events, knocked hundreds of doors, made hundreds of more phone calls, made tons of deliveries, managed some good people who would become dear friends, and hit a few radio appearances. It was difficult work, it was sometimes insanely stressful, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Over the last several years since I have had the chance to get to know Tom and his family. They have always reached out to see how I’m doing when times were tough, they always stuck their neck out for me when I needed a hand, and when I needed some major advice, Tom wouldn’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call me at an early point in the morning or late hours when most would be sleeping. I’ve seen him take chances on people others wouldn’t, and I’ve seen him take on challenges more senior, career politicians would never go near.
Even when I was working around Capitol Hill for a contract or two, the door was always open for me to crash on the couch and chill out in the AC during the scorching summer heat lugging around my camera.
In one term Congressman Garrett became the standard for conservative and libertarian policies in the House of Representatives, and our country is better for it. He could have stayed on, but he didn’t need to. He wasn’t going to let his personal demons take down his team or bring less than 100% to his district. Tom has decided to do what is best not for himself, but for his family and his district.
If not for Tom Garrett, I wouldn’t have the friends I do nor some of the opportunities I’ve been blessed to receive. I had a Senior NCO in the US Army in 2013 at Ft. Knox, Kentucky once tell me the most difficult person to be honest with is yourself. Tom Garrett didn’t owe us any explanation, but he gave it anyway.
God isn’t done using Tom Garrett because I know for certain he has more to give.
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Remso W. Martinez is a blogger, activist, and host of the “Remso Republic” podcast. You can see more of Remso’s work at www.remsorepublic.com