Elephants' man: McCrystal carries GOP banner
Tom McCrystal makes one thing clear. "I have no desire to be a sacrificial lamb," he says of his decision to run as the Republican candidate in the heavily Democratic 57th District.
Just before the Republicans' May 27 deadline for filing, the mustachioed McCrystal signed on, but he says it's not a last-minute move.
"Obviously it was a very difficult decision," says the CTO of Creative Perspectives, a high-tech business communications company. "I'm not stepping into a race that's a slam-dunk. It's easier if you're a Democrat– you can assume you start out with some bonus points."
Another factor in his decision: no other Republican was vying for the spot. The nomination will be voted on June 6 at the Republican mass meeting.
McCrystal thinks a moderate Republican could do a better job representing Charlottesville and Albemarle in the Republican-controlled General Assembly. "I'm not going to Richmond to fight cultural wars," he says. "Identity theft is not a partisan issue. Transportation is not a partisan issue, restructuring government..."
McCrystal, a lacrosse enthusiast, compares his decision to run for the House of Delegates to playing in the 2002 World Lacrosse Games in Perth, Australia. "People ask what makes me think I can do it. Sometimes you've just got to find out," he says.
Name: Thomas W.J.C. McCrystal
Day job: Chief technology officer, Creative Perspectives, Inc.
Immediate family: Parents: Tom & Diane McCrystal. Sisters: Maureen Evans, Kathryn Dahir. Brothers: Danny McCrystal, Shawn McCrystal, Patrick McCrystal
Always been a Republican? I grew up a Democrat. John Anderson's presidential campaign forced me to pick a team. I've been a Republican ever since.
Why run? There's a saying that "The best way to predict the future is to invent it." The General Assembly is the perfect place to invent Virginia's future.
What do you do better than your opponents? I've spent the past few years working inside the system in the General Assembly as a member of Joint Committee on Technology and Science and spending a day a week working on technology issues during the session. I've already built relationships with other legislators. A moderate Republican, working inside the majority caucus, can simply get more done for the 57th District.
Past political experience: Worked with the John Anderson for President campaign. Was the Republican Firehouse precinct chairman for about 10 years.
Political heroes: Teddy Roosevelt, John Kennedy, Tip O'Neill
Past newsworthiness: Founding chairman of the Virginia Piedmont Technology Council
Favorite Rolling Stones song: Gimme Shelter
Pet peeve: "Groupthink." Consensus can't transform bad ideas into good ones.
Most influential book: Three: Flatland, by Edwin Abbott. In the middle of reading it as a teenager, I had this "ah-ha!" moment about the power of math to make you see things that can only exist inside your mind. The Art of Computer Programming, by Donald Knuth. Experienced programmers refer to this as "The Bible." On a more philosophical level, you see that order and beauty aren't incompatible. Man of the House, by Tip O'Neill. Ever wonder how Democrats and Republicans used to actually get stuff done together? Here's how.
If you were to come back as an animal, what would it be? I'd come back as a Homo sapiens sapiens. Only mankind has to power create possibilities that the Universe didn't anticipate.
Motto: It's not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment. (Marcus Tullius Cicero)
Tom McCrystal is the first Republican to run for the 57th District House of Delegates seat since 1997.
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO