• Team Brandon

WASHINGTON EXAMINER: When 'Let’s go, Brandon' is a positive chant

BY PAUL BEDARD


READ THE STORY ONLINE HERE


If you’ve heard of Loudoun County in the past year, you can thank Hamilton, Virginia, resident Brandon Michon.


Rarely mentioned in the national media, other than in surveys of the wealthiest counties in the country, the liberal-leaning Washington, D.C., exurb became the symbol for parents fighting against COVID-19 mandates, school closures, and critical race theory last year.


“I was the lightning rod for that,” said Michon.


It was during the early evening of Jan. 26, 2021, when Michon and his family, dressed in winter coats, stepped in front of the Loudoun County School Board in Ashburn, Virginia, to ask that schools be opened. Duke, then 8 and in third grade, said: “I don’t want to do any more distance learning anymore. I wish I could learn from my teacher without my 2-year-old brother trying to sit with me or touch my keyboard.”


Then, it was his father’s turn, and what he said and how he said it blew up the internet.


He opened with, “You should all be fired from your day jobs because if your employers knew that you were more inefficient than the DMV, you would be replaced in a heartbeat.”

As he got louder, Michon shouted, “You’re a bunch of cowards and hiding behind our children as an excuse for keeping schools closed.” He ended with four words that have been hashtagged ever since, “Raise the friggin' bar.”


Not one for politics, the former Loudoun Valley High School baseball standout who had recently returned to his hometown after a stint on Wall Street got a call the next day from Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin, a long shot at the time who had made opening schools a key issue in his campaign.


“He said, in his opinion, this was really going to change the direction of politics and the conversation,” said Michon.


The two went on to campaign together, with Michon sometimes introducing Youngkin. Along the way, he got the political itch and a year later, and with encouragement from Youngkin’s team, he entered the race this year to challenge two-term Democratic House Rep. Jennifer Wexton in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, recently redistricted to be a bit less favorable to Democrats.


In a crowded GOP field, the growing group of Republicans endorsing him said he stands out because of his local ties, the school board rant, and his first name, a very negative meme that is a code for “f*** Joe Biden.”


Said Michon, “I’ve heard ‘Let’s go, Brandon’ all my life” from high school and college baseball fans. He eventually played for Brigham Young University against future stars such as Stephen Strasburg and Jake Arrieta. “It’s a marketer’s dream,” he said of the anti-Biden phrase that is now his campaign slogan.


Youngkin hasn’t endorsed him, but the campaign staff of the governor, who was a surprise winner over former Gov. Terry McAuliffe last year, is on Team Michon, and several key House GOP leaders have backed the 35-year-old’s campaign, giving him an edge.

An eventual victory would be seen as a win for Youngkin and his outsider status. Like former President Donald Trump, Youngkin was formerly a businessman, and early polls show that commonwealth voters like his style.


And like Youngkin, Michon is a businessman, working in commercial real estate, who has seized on education and the economy as key topics. He believes he has the leadership skills to get past politics and push through solutions in Washington.

“I didn’t ever think I’d be doing this,” said Michon in between campaign stops around the district. “It started as a parents' movement for me, but it’s turned into a citizens' and taxpayers' movement.”



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