Koepnick For Congress, A Symbolic Protest That Turned Into a Candidacy

He's a major party candidate for Congress, but it's unlikely you've seen his name until you checked your sample ballot.

That's not surprising.

Koepnick didn't set out on this journey with dreams of a Mr.;Smith Goes to Washington ending.

An internet technician for the state Division of Water Resources he was talking with some fellow techies one day earlier this year. They were all incensed that Congress had passed the Stop Online Privacy Act.

Somehow that conversation ended with Koepnick deciding to run for Congress just to call attention to that issue.

Then he won the Democratic primary.

"I know, it was surprising," he laughs. "We went very,.very grass roots. Down, I think, below the roots into the dirt."

So, a congressional candidacy was born. A friend volunteered to manage things and a campaign chest?

"I think we've spent $29 dollars so far, if you count my dry cleaning."

And after briefly flirting with the idea of accepting contributions, Koepnick decided to make another statement.

"We decided we're not going to take any contributions whatsoever, That was another symbolic gesture in response to the Citizens United ruling which I think is abhorrent."

He has no illusions about where all of this is headed. The darkest of horses, he's the Don Quixote of this election cycle, tilting at a windmill seemingly beyond his reach.

Congressional District two is the Republican heart of Nevada politics. In its history it has never been represented by a Democrat.

With national backing and a near flawless campaign, former university regent Jill Derby came up short twice.

No name Democrat bothered this time and though he's gotten some moral support from the local party, he's basically on his own.

"We're taking a different tack," says Koepnick, who reminds you though he's registered as a Democrat, he takes his marching orders from no party.

"I was a Republican eight years ago," he says.

"I define myself as a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. When it comes to things like gay marriage and legalizing cannabis, I'm for it. Both counts. When it comes to cutting spending and balancing the budget, I'm for that."

Aside from a debate with Congressman Mark Amodei on Channel 5 and a special event or two, Koepnick's campaign has largely been confined to one on one conversations with the public. He has a website where you can print a sign showing your support and says some people have.

He's not expecting his life to change the morning after election day, but he says he thinks it's all been worthwhile.

"It sounds self serving, but I think a lot of people want someone like me in the race," he says, noting that a mere handful of those in Congress come from a scientific or technical background.

"They're making laws about technology they don't even understand."

While recognizing, of course, his opponent has little reason to attack him, he;'s proud of his own conduct.

"People are sick of the negative advertising. They're sick of the partisan pandering," he says. "We represent more people, I think, more people than anyone realizes and we're going to change things one way or the other. And we're going to get back to being respectful, being polite, but disagreeing."

And, when it's all over, Koepnick says he'll be happy to say goodbye to campaigning. Would he run again?

"Absolutely not."


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