Several chess players have already turned to careers on the political chess board (Nigel Short and Julio Granda only last week!), and at least two more are running for higher office this fall in an attempt to join them.
As has been reported previously on this site, WGM Dana Reizniece-Ozola (who beat GM Hou Yifan at the 2016 Baku Olympiad) has become the Minister of Finance of the Republic of Latvia. Bob Ferguson, a 2200-rated player, is the current Washington State District Attorney who also once drew IM Jeremy Silman.
Attempting to join them come November will be 1500-rated Dan McCready, still only 35, who won the Democratic primary election for North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional district, and WCM Stephanie Pitcher, who also got passed the primary and is running for Utah’s House District 40.
(If you’re curious if any U.S. Presidents have turned to chess, the World Chess Hall of Fame has already done the exhaustive research on that.)
Democrat Stephanie Pitcher is running for state office against Republican Peter Kraus and American Independent David Else. Photo: Stephanie for House Facebook page.
McCready is a few years younger but nonetheless grew up with this writer. In 1995, he captained his Sharon Elementary chess team to a come-from-behind win on Sunday for the K-6 National Team Championship, still the only national championship ever won by a team from his city. McCready finished in the top 10 individually and several years ago had this to say about the tournament:
“We were just this little public school in Charlotte, up against all these big New York City private schools where chess is a class and they pay to have masters come and teach the kids. And we pulled it off.”
McCready went on to join to become an Eagle Scout and serve in the Marine Corps (he likely won’t ever be the highest-rated Eagle Scout, thanks to GM Kayden Troff). He served in Iraq in 2007 and was honorably discharged with the rank of captain.
After that he attended Harvard Business School and began a solar energy company. This is his first foray into politics.
“I’m not a politician,” McCready told the New York Times. “This is not a career.”
Dan McCready, right, shakes hands with voters on Women’s Equality Day in late August. Photo: Dan McCready for Congress Facebook page.
According to the latest poll on fivethirtyeight.com, he nonetheless leads by a very narrow margin over his rival Pastor Mark Harris in the general election. Harris already beat the incumbent in the primary, so the race is wide open, although Republicans have held the seat for 55 years in a row!
Full disclosure: While parts of Charlotte are in the 9th District, this writer does not live inside it. However, McCready did play against me in several games in our youth. In my senior year of high school, while he was still in middle school, he nearly cost me the state title. I was much worse out of the opening, but even while grinding the endgame, I just kept thinking, “How am I going to win this game?” Even when it was over, I thought, “I don’t know how I won that.” McCready was tenacious.
Pitcher and McCready live in opposite ends of the country, but they are tied by public service. Whereas McCready joined the military, Pitcher is currently serving in the Davis County District Attorney’s Office, which is just north of Salt Lake City.
According to her LinkedIn profile, she got her law degree from the University of Utah and has also served in the Utah State DA’s office and the Salt Lake City District Attorney’s Office. Oh, and she’s won the Utah State Women’s Championship no less than eight times!
Here she is beating a 2000 player in less time than it takes to give a stump speech.
Like McCready, the incumbent for her seat (also a Democrat) will not be faced in the general election.
Much of her platform revolves around women’s and children’s issues, so it won’t come as a surprise to know that she got an endorsement from women’s chess advocate WGM Jennifer Shahade.
Chess.com does not endorse any candidate. This news report is meant to show only that several accomplished chess players are running for office.