A private Christian school history teacher has emerged as a third-party contender for Washington’s 3rd Congressional District, deviating from its mostly red group of challengers.
Oliver Black of Longview was one of many aspiring individuals to step into Southwest Washington’s congressional race as filing week opened in mid-May. The already-lengthy list of candidates vying to unseat the incumbent grew to nine, many of whom have been active in the public for more than a year.
However, Black — a political newcomer — is confident that his presence in the race will lead to change, even if that doesn’t mean securing a spot in Congress.
“My chances exist,” Black said about the likelihood of him securing the 3rd District seat.
Black decided to run as an American Solidarity Party candidate because he wanted to add variety to the candidate pool. He felt that his views weren’t represented by those fighting for a seat in Congress. The only way to correct divisive politics is to empower third parties and implement alternative voting methods like rank choice voting, he added.
“People have seen the sort of vitriolic way that other people are running this race and would maybe … be looking for an alternative at this point,” Black said.
The American Solidarity Party is a Christian-democratic political party that gained popularity shortly after the 2016 presidential election, which is when Black officially joined. He served on the political group’s state committee in 2021 and was reelected this year.
Black supports policies that align with “whole life” beliefs, or those that are anti-abortion; increase access to health care; end capital punishment; and reduce military funding. There must be improvements to the entire criminal justice system to protect wrongly convicted individuals and reduce recidivism, he said.
Although there aren’t exemptions written into the party’s platform about abortion, Black said he believes cases of incest, rape and medical necessity permit receiving an abortion. However, these services shouldn’t be provided through Planned Parenthood, an organization he believes must be defunded.
Another guiding principle of the party emphasizes “distributism,” the economic notion that the ownership of assets should be more widespread than condensed. Under the umbrella of this theory, labor unions and employee-owned companies are held in high esteem, Black said. He added that money should be kept out of politics.
Republicans and Democrats aren’t addressing issues that the working class faces, Black said, and are focusing on “culture wars” instead.
“I think working-class people is where I would have the biggest appeal — those who feel like the economy is not working for them,” he said.
There must be greater investments in alternative forms of energy, such as those derived from wind, solar and hydroelectric sources, Black said. Southwest Washington’s increased forest fires and inconsistent seasons are indicative of the larger impact of climate change, and the conversation needs to be more frequent on the federal level, he said.
Mental health facilities require more attention in order to address homelessness, Black said. Many people experiencing homelessness are suffering from addictions, which aren’t necessarily the same as choices, he said, and a central aspect of resolving homelessness is understanding it.
“I think we need to be compassionate (and) treat humans with dignity instead of othering homeless people,” he said.
As the school year concludes, Black will begin engaging more with Southwest Washingtonians. He plans on attending fairs districtwide and hosting in-person and virtual events in the months leading up to the primary election on Aug. 2.