Even as a Democrat candidate for U.S. Senate, R.J. Hadley isn’t restricting himself to events sponsored and hosted by his own party.
The novice office seeker is going to Republican and Libertarian events, and even to Tea Party gatherings, to find out what’s on the electorate’s mind.
“We’ve got real big problems,” said the 41-year-old from Rockdale. “The time of finger-pointing, we’ve got to get past that. I’ve always thought that government should put people first.”
Hadley grew up in southern New Jersey. During his childhood, his parents divorced, and the family lost their home to foreclosure.
“I know about overcoming struggles,” he said. “It doesn’t happen by magic.”
Hadley eventually attended and graduated from Dartmouth College.
“A lot of my buddies went to Wall Street,” Hadley said. “I went into social work.”
Later, Hadley returned to school and earned a degree in computer science. He was a software developer for the Federal Aviation Administration and Motorola and worked in Europe for Logica.
Hadley said people and the government have to start living within their means again. It’s a message he’s hearing on the trail from voters upset with Wall Street and auto company bailouts and spiraling budget deficits.
“Everybody is feeling it now,” he said. “We have to prioritize our spending.”
Hadley announced his candidacy last September and has been criss-crossing the state.
“Just to let people know they will have a choice,” he said. “I’m finding a lot of people are looking for the person who’s going to represent (them).”
Hadley is the only Democrat to announce officially his candidacy for the seat now held by Johnny Isakson. Isakson, a first-term Republican, is running for re-election. Isakson also was a longtime member of the General Assembly and spent six years in the U.S. House before winning the Senate seat in 2004.
But his relative lack of experience against one of most seasoned politicians and campaigners isn’t deterring Hadley.
“I’m real,” he said. “It’s about people who have had enough of the status quo. We have to make the distance between our officials and the people much smaller.”