Tareq Salahi, the man who made worldwide headlines as an unwanted White House guest, says he’s ready to crash the race for Eric Cantor's seat in Congress.
Salahi tells Style that he's turned in 3,000 signatures to the state election commission to be listed on the ballot as a candidate for the Independent Green Party of Virginia. He says he expects at least the minimum 1,000 to be verified by the board within a few weeks.“We’re taking the advantage of my television career and converting folks who aren’t sure how they’re going to vote,” Salahi says.
The Front Royal resident became a household name in 2009 when he and his then-wife, Michaele, gained unauthorized access to President Barack Obama’s first White House State Dinner. After a Secret Service investigation and a Congressional hearing, the incident played out from the couple’s perspective on the Bravo cable network’s reality show, “Real Housewives of D.C.”
Following a high-profile divorce and several bankruptcy-related lawsuits, Salahi ran for the 10th District congressional seat and briefly attempted a run against Ken Cuccinelli for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. He says he saw Cantor’s defeat in the June Republican primary coming. In the wake of his loss, Cantor has resigned his leadership post as House Majority Leader.
“After the governor’s campaign was over, I knew I wanted to keep the momentum going,” he says. “We were out there on the front lines, and everyone we met said ‘ABC’ -- Anybody But Cantor.”
Salahi, a former vinter who will launch a new brewery “in time for Oktoberfest,” he says, wants to be known as the candidate focused on jobs. He says that while he's counting on name recognition from his reality television stint, his struggles with finances and his divorce give him an edge on candidates who can’t relate to voters’ struggles with employment.
“’I’ve made millions and I’ve been through difficult times,” he says. “The elite candidates can’t say that. They were born with a silver spoon in their mouths. I’ve been through all of it. That’s what you have to go through to understand the hard times people are going through in District 7.”