A doctor and Air Force veteran, Pooran brings compelling story to the election for the 6th Congressional District of Maryland
December 7, 2011, Washington, D.C. - Milad Pooran (D-MD), a physician who served his community and country as both a civilian doctor and as a member of the US Air Force Medical Corps, recently announced his bid for the 6th Congressional District of Maryland. If successful, he will become the first Iranian American to serve in the U.S. Congress.
Dr. Pooran immigrated with his parents to the United States from Iran at the age of six. He grew up in Beltsville, Maryland and earned a bachelor degree in biochemistry from the University of Maryland, College Park. He then attended the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, earning his medical doctorate in 2000.
After completing his residency in internal medicine, Dr. Pooran completed his clinical fellowships at NIH and worked in the Office of the Secretary for Health and Human Services, tackling national biodefense as well as H1N1 pandemic influenza issues.
For the past thirteen years, Dr. Pooran has served in the Military as an Air Force flight surgeon and currently holds the rank of Lieutenant Colonel (USAF, Reserves). During his service, he was deployed and provided support in humanitarian and flying operations on all seven continents and served as a combat medic and operational flight surgeon. Dr. Pooran is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Click here to learn more about Dr. Milad Pooran’s campaign.
PAAIA and its connected PAC, the Iranian American Political Action Committee, had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Pooran recently to discuss his campaign for the U.S. Congress.
PAAIA/IAPAC: What motivated you to run for public office?
Dr. Pooran: When I was six years old, my parents’ vision brought our family to this country, and today I am proof that the American Dream is alive and well. I know what sacrifices my parents made to provide me first with freedom and then with the opportunity to succeed in life. The dedication my parents showed to our family and community provided me with a model of how individuals can impact the lives of others.
I am running for Congress because I refuse to accept the end of the American Dream. As a member of Congress I will work every day to make sure that every American has a chance at it. There are too many Americans today that are struggling to find meaningful work. In Washington, I will fight for new jobs, to protect our existing jobs, and work to fix a tax system that shelters those who can most afford to pay their fair share and punishes those who work the hardest. We should not be ceding vast power to corporations while treating citizens as inconsequential.
I am a proud product of Maryland public education system from the third grade through medical school and my residency training. I gain a tremendous amount of satisfaction from my job as a physician. I strongly believe that we need to return our education system to what it once was: a ladder into the middle class for millions, and work to provide every American with affordable health care.
Finally, as someone who has had the privilege to serve with our men and women in uniform as a combat medic and flight surgeon, I am running for Congress to help make sure our country honors its promise to our veterans, active-duty military, and their families, and to ensure that American taxpayers know their tax dollars are being well spent.
I believe that my experiences have given me the leadership skills and knowledge at a local and international level that will help me serve the citizens of the 6th District in the U.S. Congress.
PAAIA/IAPAC: What are some of the challenges you believe your campaign committee must overcome to mount a successful campaign?
Dr. Pooran: First, I am running in the primary against a state Senator backed by most of the political establishment, a former county council member and a wealthy investment banker who will likely spend a lot of his own money on the race. So, from the start, we will work from behind on name recognition and fundraising.
Second, we face all of the challenges of building a structure and a team while also actually running the campaign in a newly-drawn district that spans 150 miles end-to-end and contains two major media markets.
And third, it would be naïve to think that my heritage wouldn’t become a campaign issue. If it does, I welcome the conversation and I will be a respectable and formidable representative for the Iranian American community.
PAAIA/IAPAC: What are the fundraising goals of your committee?
Dr. Pooran: Our budget is $710,000 for the primary, and another $2.2m for the general election.
PAAIA/IAPAC: What differentiates you from other potential candidates for the position?
Dr. Pooran: I have the profile that best fits the new Maryland 6th:
In a year when being an establishment politician is likely to be a handicap, I am truly an outsider.
PAAIA/IAPAC: What particular skills or experiences will you bring to the U.S. Congress?
Dr. Pooran: I believe physicians bring a unique mindset to politics. We are trained to be fact-driven, not argument-driven. Doctors analyze information without bias and create a plan of action. We are problem-solvers (something everyone can agree has been in short supply in Congress recently).
My experience in the military will provide an important perspective both on foreign-policy matters but on how they affect our domestic economy and society. I am also sure that the pressures of saving a soldier’s life in combat more than prepare me for any stress being a Congressman might bring.
I also know that my experience as an immigrant makes me particularly protective of the American Dream, and determined to effectively oppose the forces that would stand in the way of making it achievable.
PAAIA/IAPAC: What are the most critical issues facing the 6th District of Maryland?
Dr. Pooran: As with the rest of the country, the single most important issue in my district is the stagnant economy and the need to create good jobs. While some parts of the 6th District have not been hit as hard as the rest of the country, unemployment is still high and too many people are underemployed or have given up entirely.
The need to fix a tax system that is confusing, untrusted, and fails to provide adequate revenues will also be a priority. I intend to also work hard to address the problems in our education system.
(I invite PAAIA’s members to visit our campaign website – miladforcongress.com – to read more in depth about these issues.)
PAAIA/IAPAC: As the first American of Iranian descent to be elected to U.S. Congress, what function or role do you think you can play in addressing U.S.-Iran relations?
Dr. Pooran: I believe the most important thing I can do will be to provide an honest and moderate voice. There are no gaps that are unbridgeable between Iranian Americans, the Iranian people, and the American people.
PAAIA/IAPAC: What role do you think Iranian Americans can play in your campaign and what do you expect from the community?
Dr. Pooran: I am certainly hoping that Iranian Americans will adopt my campaign and support it financially. While there have been other Iranian Americans who have run for Congress, I am running in the political capital of the world and our campaign will likely be the focus of tremendous amounts of media coverage. This is a unique opportunity for our community.
PAAIA/IAPAC: What role can organizations like PAAIA/IAPAC play in assisting your campaign?
Dr. Pooran: I hope that PAAIA/IAPAC can play a role in my campaign much like that which EMILY’s List does in many women candidates’ campaigns: helping create strong early financial support. (Not everyone remembers that EMILY is an acronym: Early Money Is Like Yeast).
For the political world, our campaign will have only one chance to make a first impression: our December 31st fundraising report. The very viability of the campaign depends on a credible financial showing, and we know for certain that other influential individuals and organizations who are inclined to support our campaign are waiting to see how our first report looks before committing.
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