Tennessee truck driver runs for U.S. Senate

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As polls open today for Tennessee primary elections, you might see an unfamiliar name on the ballot: Aaron Pettigrew. Currently an over the road driver for Big G Express—based in Shelbyville, Tennessee—Aaron Pettigrew has been in the industry for 14 years and has over a million and a half miles to show for it. FreightWaves reached out to Pettigrew to understand how his background in the transportation industry has impacted his campaign strategy.

His interest in politics was kickstarted when he reached out to his Senators and Representatives almost a decade ago. “I sent in letters and made phone calls and I told them I’d be happy to talk to them if they needed a driver’s perspective with legislation on transportation, given my years in the industry.” He received the occasional form letter, but, as Pettigrew stated, “multiple transportation bills have gone through and I haven’t gotten a single phone call or email about them.”

“The one thing that gets me is that all of these people in office turn to lobbyists, major organizations, and attorneys, but they don’t talk to the people doing the work. I found out that this is the case in multiple industries,” Pettigrew said via phone. According to Pettigrew’s website, his experience as a driver gives him the context to serve Tennessee, having driven across the continental US.

“I have been a small business owner as an owner-operator so I know how complex and overbearing things like the tax burden and the Affordable Care Act truly are, given that I had dreams of expanding my business,” Pettigrew writes. He cites his experience as a terminal safety representative for a hazardous materials trucking company as a foundation for his ability to “read or use legislative language” as well as his insight into the steps of the supply chain.

Throughout his campaign, Pettigrew has appealed to drivers through spots on Road Dog Live, a radio show whose broadcasts reach thousands of members of the transportation community. Pettigrew has also been active in online forums for drivers and on social media platforms.

In a conversation with Pettigrew, he noted that many drivers struggle to make it to the polls. “We are, at last estimate, about 3% of the population. Unfortunately, many drivers aren’t regular voters. But of the 535 people serving in Washington, we have nobody truly representing us,” Pettigrew said.

Pettigrew is seeking to fill incumbent Senator Bob Corker’s seat. More information about Pettigrew’s campaign can be found on his website.

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