Johnson begins his challenge for McHenry's seat

Ex-Wake prosecutor, a Hickory native, known for saving fellow sailor

Thursday, Oct. 25, 2007

By Marcie Young
Charlotte Observer Staff Writer

Daniel Johnson, a Hickory native and former Navy ensign who made national headlines in 1999 after he lost his legs trying to save a fellow sailor, said Wednesday that he'll challenge U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry next year.

Johnson, 31, resigned three weeks ago from his job as an assistant district attorney in the Wake County District Attorney's Office and moved back to Hickory, in part to run for Congress, he said. He said he was in job negotiations with a law firm in Hickory.

He said Wednesday that he's running against McHenry, a Republican, because he's "tired of the partisanship and divisive politics" on Capitol Hill.

"When a person is elected as a representative in Congress, they aren't elected to represent a party," he said. "They need to be focusing on the problems people are facing in this area of North Carolina."

The biggest issues in the 10th District, he said, include economic growth, health care and veteran care.

Johnson, a Democrat, was a Navy ensign when he lost his legs below the knees while helping to free another sailor who had become entangled in a rope on the USS Blue Ridge in August 1999. The Navy gave him the Navy-Marine Corps Medal, its highest peacetime award for bravery.

"There's not a lot of people in Congress right now who have a lot of military experience, yet they make the decisions about war," he said.

McHenry, also 31, would be running for his third term next year.

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