Marshall Adame is a Democrat running for Congress in North Carolina's 3rd District, a jurisdiction along the Tar Heel state's low-lying eastern coast that is home to the U.S. Marine Corps' Camp Lejeune, Air Station Cherry Point, and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, as well as Blackwater Worldwide's 7,000-acre corporate headquarters and training facility. Adame is an underdog in the congressional race, where he will likely face seven-term Republican incumbent Walter B. Jones--who brought the term "freedom fries" to Congress--in the general election. Jones has since become an opponent of the Iraq war, atoning for his vote to authorize the war by writing letters of condolence to the families of dead soldiers--a "mea culpa to my Lord," he says. But the incumbent and his Republican party are not the only obstacles Adame will have to overcome if he hopes to take over the 3rd District's congressional seat. He also faces tough opposition from Blackwater.
Despite running as a Democrat in a strongly Republican district, Adame has the sort of military past that is appreciated in these parts. "I am a retired United States Marine," he tells me. "I'm a Vietnam veteran. I spent nine months in Kuwait right after we kicked Saddam out, helping to rebuild the Kuwaiti air force. I spent four years in Egypt with Kaman Aerospace"--a military contractor--"as their logistics leader in that country." More recently, he spent three years in Iraq working on reconstruction projects, ultimately rising to a senior position with the State Department's National Coordination Team in Baghdad, where he oversaw the work of roughly ten Provincial Reconstruction Teams. Two of his sons have served in the U.S. Army in Iraq--one was seriously wounded in an IED attack and is still undergoing reconstructive surgeries; the other is currently on his second 15-month tour, stationed in Tikrit. Now back in North Carolina, Adame has even opened his home to a family of Iraqi refugees.