Independent candidate Chris DeCarlo doesn't have a huge campaign war chest, but he says the power of rap, a singular message and the Internet are driving his campaign for election to Virginia's 11th District congressional seat.
His Youtube video "How Virginia's 17-Year-Olds Can Stick it to the Man and Fight Political Corruption" has been seen by 25,837 viewers, and a video released five days ago has garnered more than 5,000 views. But will that translate to votes?
DeCarlo calls this campaign of running without donations an experiment — just like his previous four campaigns — and has committed himself to running for political office every year.
"I think part of the popularity of my videos comes from watching a 53-year-old white guy rapping," DeCarlo told Patch. "The parties themselves are so thirsty for money, and it's ironic that the voters could solve the problem in a heartbeat. All they have to do is vote for a candidate with no money and they would upset the applecart like nobody's business."
DeCarlo made his first video last year when was running as an Independent for chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and was not allowed to participate in a debate at George Mason University. He spent $82,000 of his own money on that race and received 6,596 votes.
"It made me mad (not being allowed to debate), and I didn't want my speech to go to waste, and then looking at it, I realized I'd written it with a cadence," DeCarlo said. "What I found is that rap is a great medium to express yourself. The power behind it comes from expressing your personal experiences, and my experience with local and state government has been horrible — how they act like a gang, bend the rules. There's no level of customer service."
"What I have found out is that elected officials are not in control," said DeCarlo. "The employees, the administrators, are calling the shots because regulations are so complicated that no one knows what's right or wrong… It's all a power game, and what happens is that you get people in positions of power who are not qualified for that power."
DeCarlo faces incumbent Democrat Rep. Gerry Connolly, Republican Chris Perkins, Independent Green candidate Peter Marchetti, Independent candidate Mark Gibson and Green Party candidate Joseph Galdo. His previous campaigns include two bids for the chairmanship of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (in 2009 and 2011) and a run for the 37th District in the Virginia House of Delegates.
"I have nothing personal against any of my opponents," DeCarlo said. "It's the system that they're working under, the pressure to side with their party and to generate more money. If there's something you want to get done then you need to make a contribution to the candidate and political party. Ideally, there would be no political fundraising. Zero. Then, members of Congress go do their jobs."
DeCarlo's latest rap video, "Money, Money, Money" will be released this week. Here is an excerpt:
"This mission is important, we've got to succeed,
We've got to stop'em or we're gonna continue to bleed.
The cash keeps coming motivation' the lies,
We've got to cut the flow so the truth can survive."
DeCarlo has owned Fairfax Propane since 1979, and lives in Mantua with his wife and five children. He did not graduate from college, but took courses at the Georgia Institute of Technology, George Mason University and Northern Virginia Community College. He is opposed to President Obama's health care reform, believes in smaller government and owns three guns.
"Once you've aligned yourself with a party you then become labeled, associated with the values and biases of that party," DeCarlo said. "It's unfortunate that more people don't run for public office. Do you know how many signatures it takes to get on the ballot for the Board of Supervisors? A hundred. So, I'm running in every election, and as an Independent I can always get on the ballot. And since I'm not labeled, I can say things as many ways as I want to say them."