Liz Matory is unique: a bi-racial Millennial of African and Asian ancestry who just competed in a recent, five-way GOP primary in Maryland’s 8th Congressional District. Though she came in third, she’s energized and more devoted than ever to public service.
“I am still committed to fixing our democracy,” she told me. “Whether it’s open primaries, ending partisan gerrymandering, term limits, campaign finance, or fighting crony capitalism, we need to fix the process if we want to fix our government.”
Despite the intra-party difficulties with the GOP this presidential election cycle, Matory said the struggle has an upside.
“Oddly, I think this is a good thing for the Republican Party,” she said, invoking economist Joseph Schumpeter. “We know about creative destruction in economics. We are seeing it in our party, but our party has had several moments when it has had to regroup and get back to its founding principles. This just happens to be the most blatant in recent history … I do believe that we need to strengthen our party and grow it because we cannot afford another decade of failed liberal policies that have created more poverty and division in our country. We need a Republican Renaissance because, without it, our republic is doomed.”
A lifelong Democrat until last year, Matory switched to Republicanism after studying the issues, including reading two books To Make Men Free, by Heather Cox Richardson, and The Conservative Heart, by Arthur Brooks.
“The transition has been both easy and heartbreaking,” she said. “If you told me last summer I would be a Republican, I would’ve said that you’re crazy. But, becoming an Independent was perhaps the best thing I have ever done. It allowed me to break free from the Democratic Party and really breathe and think for myself. I was sick of being taken for granted and fed up with policies and agendas that didn’t seem to make any sense. But, I thought that the Republican Party wouldn’t be a place for me. I had a really bad perception of the GOP, but because most of my congressional district is not Democrat, I wanted to learn more about my community.”
Matory’s exploration led her to realize new facets of herself.
“I had to discover that I was, in fact, a conservative and that being one was not a bad thing. Oddly, I feel more American now that I’m a Republican. The Republicans I’ve met this election have been the most welcoming and understanding people I’ve met in politics. At first, I thought that they would not accept a new Republican, and some purists do run around calling me a RINO. But what I say to them is, there are very few things more difficult than being a black Republican, and they can go ahead with their shade, since we need more of me than more of them. The majority of Republicans I have met, however, totally understand why (and even commend me for) becoming a Republican since a lot of them were Democrats before and had their aha moments; there is great empathy and acceptance.”
However, Matory’s shift was not without a price; she said “personally, the transition has been very sad as well” as she lost friends by severing ties with the Democratic Party.
“I suppose they weren’t friends to begin with,” she said. “And, I don’t know if I will ever get comfortable with the visceral responses I get from white liberals and some black Democrats when I say I’m a Republican. There is such a cognitive disconnect when they see me, know where I’m from and observe how outspoken I have become. It’s as if they don’t want to acknowledge that the Right could actually be right, and better for our country: blacks, women, black women.”
Matory commended Telly Lovelace, the new African-American outreach coordinator for the Republican National Committee, who started his uphill battle last month to bring more black voters into the GOP fold.
“I honestly think that more blacks, Latinos, Asians, women, and young people would find comfort in conservatism, but they need to also feel at home in the GOP,” she said. “Most of us tend to be more religious, connected to our families, value education and self-improvement. We believe wholeheartedly in freedom, liberty, and free enterprise, but we receive negative signals that shut us out. As a former candidate, I am very cognizant of my role and the effects of my words and actions. The presidential election makes me wonder if some candidates even care. Perhaps when you grow up as a white male or raised as one, you are not as sensitive to everyone else, like the rest of us are by default.”
With a B.A. from Columbia University, J.D. from Howard University School of Law and M.B.A.from the University of Maryland, Matory has the intellectual firepower to make waves.
“Politically, the campaign has really energized me and allowed me to hone in on where I could focus my energy,” she said. “I also believe that the pro-life community could use some support. Now that I’ve freed myself from thinking like a Democrat, I believe we need to champion a culture of life from conception to natural death. A lot of the problems that women faced pre-Roe are still ‘issues’ today. I believe we (men and women) need to honor the roles we play in each other’s lives and work to appreciate our role in creation. This is not about legislating, it’s about how we live life.”
Liz Matory with supporters in the 8th Congressional District of Maryland
Matory has unwavering thoughts for other women running for office or considering it.
“My advice is: run. Don’t wait,” she said. “Guys don’t, so why should we? We need women power more so now than ever before, and if you are waiting for someone to ask you, you are going to be waiting a long time. Voters want (and need) more options. They don’t want to vote for just a woman, though. They want to vote for a good to great one. We are out there, and if you think you have what it takes, then do not hesitate.”
That’s not to say it will be easy, Matory admits.
“Mind you, it will be harder than when guys run,” she said. “You’ll actually have to worry about your skirt length and your hair all the time, but seriously, the bar is always different for us just like in any other profession.”
Matory said one of the most difficult parts about running for office is finding people to trust.
“Sadly, in politics, trustworthy people are hard to find, but all you need are a couple of people who do have your best interest and your community’s best interest in mind,” she said. “Be leery of people who are trying to launch their careers off your back. I believe in lifting as you climb, but trust your gut. If you think they can’t be trusted, then they probably can’t.”
For young people generally, she recommended to be both proactive and patient.
“You can learn a lot from elders, but never settle for ‘It can’t be done’ or ‘That’s impossible,’” she said. “Do not fault folks for not understanding you or believing in what you believe. Most people do not have the ability to open their minds and their hearts to different points of view or new possibilities. Oh, and be mindful of who you spend time with emotionally, physically, physiologically. All of your decisions and choices add up. They can build you up or break you down. You have to look out for yourself.”
Posted via content share from Opportunity Lives.
Carrie Sheffield is the founder of Bold. She is passionate about storytelling to empower and connect others. A founding POLITICO reporter, Carrie contributed on political economy at Forbes and wrote editorials for The Washington Times. After earning a master’s in public policy from Harvard University, she managed credit risk at Goldman Sachs and researched for American Enterprise Institute scholar Edward Conard. She earned a B.A. in communications at Brigham Young University and completed a Fulbright fellowship in Berlin.