WINCHESTER — Matthew Truong, director of business development for a multi-billion dollar tech company based in Germantown, Maryland, says he has lived the "American Dream."
The 52-year-old came to the United States by himself in 1980 from Communist Vietnam at age 12, with basically “two pairs of clothes and two words of English," he said in a recent interview. His parents and siblings eventually joined him in the U.S.
Today, he is running for Congress, seeking the Republican nomination to run against Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-10th, in the Nov. 3 election. Wexton was elected to her first two-year term in 2018.
The 10th Congressional District includes all of Clarke, Frederick, and Loudoun counties, parts of Fairfax and Prince William counties, and the independent cities of Manassas, Manassas Park and Winchester.
“I lived the American Dream,” said Truong, who graduated from Elizabethtown High School in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, before earning bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering from Penn State. “If I can make it, anybody can make it. And I grew up poor, [rose] up to middle class. And now you can maybe consider me the 1%. Been there, done that. I’m all ears to listen to anyone across the district, from the poorest of the poor to the richest of the rich.”
Truong has been involved with the Fairfax County Republican Committee since 2012 and is its vice chairman.
He says he was encouraged to run for Congress two years ago by a fellow Republican while volunteering to hand out sample ballots.
After incumbent Republican Barbara Comstock lost to Wexton, Truong began contemplating a run for office, believing he could share his story and influence others.
With support from his wife Diane, he filed to run in November. The filing deadline is March 26, and the Republican primary is June 9.
Truong said he would like to see Republicans increase their minority outreach, noting that he has worked with Vietnamese, Chinese and Korean communities over the years. He said outreach works, but it takes time, energy and effort.
He will continue his efforts, even if his bid for office isn't successful.
“Let’s say I lose, I’m not going to disappear,” Truong said.
Truong describes himself as pro-life, saying he believes life begins at conception. He wants to pass legislation to make alternatives to abortion — such as adoption — easier.
“One of the policies I want to adopt is to lower the threshold to adopt American babies,” Truong said. “I specifically say Americans why? Because right now it is cheaper, faster, better to adopt a child from China. There’s nothing wrong with adopting children from China. But why are we not adopting children over here in our country? And if you do want to keep your baby for some reason, what can we do to encourage women to keep those children?”
Truong said he would not try to ban or implement further restrictions to abortions. Instead, he wants to reduce abortions by promoting alternatives.
“You want to change the mindset first,” Truong said. “I’m here to represent the people. I’m not here to force anything down people’s throats.”
Truong says being pro-life also means ensuring that senior citizens are cared for.
Another top priority for Truong is defending Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms. While he says gun safety is needed, he thinks many proposals introduced by Democrats to increase gun control may infringe on those rights. He thinks background checks are “fine as they are” and that universal background checks wouldn't prevent mass shootings. Rather than implement new laws, he believes there needs to be more of an effort to enforce existing ones.
He also wants to promote legal immigration and find ways to give immigrants a clear path to citizenship.
“I want other people to come to America,” Truong said. “We need good people here. We want good, productive people that would take advantage and live the American Dream.”
He does not want families already in the country to be deported, but he would like to give them a pathway to citizenship if they are working, paying taxes and don’t have a criminal record or other issues.
Truong said he likes town hall-style meetings and would hold them regularly, if elected. He said they are a great way to start a conversation and learn what matters to people.
When it comes to President Donald Trump, Truong said he is “100%” behind him and has been since Trump's first Republican debate in 2015. He called Trump’s impeachment “political theater.”
If Truong loses the Republican primary in June, he said he will support the nominee. Others seeking the Republican nomination include Marine Corps veteran Aliscia Andrews, Army veteran Jeff Dove, teacher Elizabeth Stone and Marine Corps veteran Rob Jones.
Truong lives in Fairfax with his wife and two children, ages 17 and 21.