By Amy Brennan
Whenever the U.S. Capitol Dome appears on TV, 3-year-old Celia points and shouts, “That”s Congress, we are going there!” Celia, already hard at work on the campaign trail, informs everyone, including her Sunday school teachers, that “Dad is running for Congress.” Her dad, Christian Burridge, the Democratic nominee for the 3rd Congressional District seat, just smiles.
Burridge, a BYU law school alum and the proud father of two girls, said hope for his daughters” futures inspired his political aspirations. Recent frustration with national politics only strengthened his resolve.
“I didn”t want to have to explain to my kids 15 years later why I didn”t get involved,” he said.
But instead of simply writing his representatives, Burridge, with the support of his wife, Marissa, decided to take action – he decided to run for Congress in a seat he watched since his undergraduate days at Snow College.
Since he filed for and received the Democratic nomination, the strength of Burridge”s character and his talents have drawn supporters, said Jeff Barth, Burridge”s campaign manager.
“If you hear this guy speak, he is moving and charismatic, especially when he discusses issues that matter to Utah,” Barth said.
Burridge knows to win, he faces a difficult battle – his Republican challenger will be either incumbent Chris Cannon or John Jacob, depending on results from the June GOP primary elections.
But to those who say a Democrat can”t win in the 3rd District, Burridge cites the success of Bill Orton, a Democrat who held the seat in the 1990s.
“I reject the assumption that this is one of the most conservative districts in the nation,” he said. “If there is a good candidate that can appeal to the voters, a Democrat can win.”
And Burridge said his working class background prepared him for this race. Growing up as the youngest of six children, his parents taught by example the importance of public service. His father served in the both the National Guard and in the Utah Highway Patrol. His mother attended college later in life and graduated to become a public school teacher.
“My parents instilled in me that if you work hard and serve others, that is a noble life,” he said.
They also encouraged him to get through school and achieve his dream of practicing law.
BYU law professor Michael Goldsmith remembers Burridge for his energy, drive and integrity.
“A lot of students were on the ”get-by” program, but not Christian,” Goldsmith recalled. “He wouldn”t be your typical congressman because he wouldn”t bail out to financial interests.”
Upon graduation from BYU”s law school, Burridge started his own law firm, one that now financially enables him to run for Congress. Skills he learned on his LDS mission to Lansing, Mich., allow him to put in long hours on both the campaign trail and at work while still making time for his young family.
“Today, when I think about the sacrifice I am making financially, in time and in resources, it is very little compared to what other people have done for our country,” he said.
The principles he believes in go beyond any cost, Burridge said.
Crucial to his platform are controversial issues such as the Iraq war and fiscal policy. Burridge believes America needs a measured approach to getting out of the war and says the GOP is no longer the party of fiscal responsibility.
Student loans are a particularly important issue to his platform, Burridge said.
“If students in the district want real representation, they should vote for me because I am the only candidate with student loans and I know how they feel to pay,” he said.
So Burridge works day in and day out to promote his message and the to garner the name recognition he will need to be competitive in the election. In the meantime, he believes his chances are good.
“Utah Democrats have never been more unified,” he said.