Q&A: GOP freshman class president Russell Fry talks dad jokes, new House Republicans and Trump
Published in News & Features
WASHINGTON — South Carolina freshman Russell Fry came to Congress by beating Rep. Tom Rice, one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump for inciting the Jan. 6, 2021, riot.
Shortly after being sworn in, the jocular, 38-year-old conservative accepted a position on Trump’s leadership team in South Carolina. Asked whether Trump was the rightful winner of the 2020 election, Fry demurred, but he raised questions about election integrity.
While some Republicans may be looking toward new allegiances, Fry has remained loyal while also drawing people together as the Republican freshman class president, which requires him to develop and communicate policy goals and build relationships with colleagues.
Fry, who’s got a penchant for dad jokes, met with Heard on the Hill recently to discuss his first few weeks in the job.
This interview has been condensed.
Q: What reasonable legislative goals have you set for yourself because it’s a divided Congress? What are you willing to work across the aisle on?
A: I did a tremendous amount of work on the opioid epidemic at the state level (as a member of the state House of Representatives). I chaired our Opioid Task Force — that was a bipartisan committee, a regionally diverse committee. And we were able to pass 18 bills into law. Everything from K-12 education, to prevention, to treatment, to law enforcement. We really touched every facet. So I do think that there’s probably some drive in this Congress to fix that. We’ve got to stop the flow of illegal fentanyl into this country. And I’m hopeful that there is common ground there that the Democrats also see.
Q: What’s something you want people to know about this new crop of Republicans coming in?
I think we have a really dynamic and impressive group of freshman Republicans. I think that it’s incredibly diverse. They’re incredibly talented. They’re incredibly, incredibly mission-focused and eager to work together to really help better this country. That’s what I’ve seen so far. It really is an incredible cast of congressmen and women who are going to define what the future of this country looks like.
Q: In the wake of the midterms, the red wave that didn’t materialize, there was some chatter about Republicans needing to shift away from Trump and maybe focus on a new leader. I know you’re still working with Trump. How would you respond to that?
©2023 CQ-Roll Call, Inc., All Rights Reserved. Visit cqrollcall.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.