Earl Granville is a Pennsylvania Army National Guard veteran who lost his leg while serving in Afghanistan. He now says he wants to give back to the people who helped him heal by representing their interests in Congress.
“I want to give back to the people here and continue to serve them, just like they served me,” he told Fox News. “It’s just so important for me to understand what these people need here. I want to be a good voice and representative for them.”
Granville, a Republican, announced his candidacy on Tuesday for the seat in Pennsylvania’s 8th Congressional District, currently held by Rep. Matt Cartwright, a Democrat.
Given that President Trump carried the district by nearly 10 points in 2016, it’s set to be one of the more notable congressional races nationwide. Cartwright, who has held the seat since 2013, still enjoyed strong support in his district, however.
“You look at the divide in Washington, D.C., and it’s caused a huge division among the people in the United States,” Granville, 36, said.
“I would like to get my foot in the door and get people to just do their jobs and be leaders to work together,” he continued. “I think when they start working together, no matter what their political differences are, you’re going to start seeing the people come together.”
The former staff sergeant was on the final day of a five-day mission in the Paktia province, on his way to help build a school, when an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded, wounding him and destroying his vehicle. Granville said he only remembered “seeing black” before realizing his feet had been turned “completely backward” and were “full of blood.”
Granville’s left leg was quickly amputated; he had to endure months of surgeries, rehab and recovery to save his right leg. He said he doesn’t think much about the injury anymore and is thankful just to be alive.
“What I would like to show the people here is, you don’t need a uniform to serve,” the Pennsylvania native said. “You need to get out there and find that purpose in your life… I think we as a society need to understand that.”
In outlining his preliminary policy goals, Granville, who served nine years in the National Guard, highlighted his inroads with the local community and said all he wanted to do was carry out the will of the people.
“What I would like to find out first is, the people in this district and Northeastern Pennsylvania — what is it exactly that I can do for them,” Granville said. “What issues are here in this area that we can fix before I dive into policy.”
“We need the economy moving forward in this area,” he added. “It’s important to have jobs in Northeastern Pennsylvania.”
Granville also sided with the president in the ongoing House push for impeachment.
“I look at this impeachment as a waste of time and a waste of tax dollars,” he said. “For the past few years, this has been the approach of the other side — trying to take the current commander in chief out of office, and it seems like all it’s doing is costing us money.”
Granville said that if Cartwright votes to impeach Trump, “I think a lot of people in this area are going to be upset over that.”
He said that, unlike Cartwright, he’s originally from the district and personally experienced its ups and downs.
“An organization called Homes For Our Troops helped build my house,” he said. “They had a big volunteer day and the whole community came in to help build the house.”
Granville also showed support for the fossil fuel industry and said Congress must start thinking outside the box on issues — including veterans’ health care.
“Coal is the blood of where we’re from here in Northeastern Pennsylvania,” he said. “Keeping that tradition here is important.”
“We’ve seen the disaster that is the VA [Department of Veterans Affairs], the bad rep they get,” Granville continued. “I would like to work to make sure the rest of the veterans continue to get the same opportunities that I get, and if we have to look beyond the VA to find a solution, then so be it.”
“There are things that must be fixed within our VA system and we need to move forward and fix those,” he added.
Granville ended by stressing a need for a cap on how many times a representative can serve in office, and “new blood” in Congress. He said electing the same person over and over would simply perpetuate the ongoing gridlock and discourage new ideas.
“Just like the presidency, we need new blood. Keep that wheel turning and bring in new people,” he said. “Sometimes with some of these people who have been in their districts for over 20 years — do they still know the people? You look at someone who has been in politics for so long, generations change. People’s mindsets go a different way.”
“If we keep sending the same people over and over, we’re going to get nowhere,” he added.
Cartwright’s congressional office did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.