Florida Man Who Landed Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn Now Plans to Run for Congress

Florida Man Who Landed Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn Now Plans to Run for Congress

A Florida mailman who broke several laws by flying a gyrocopter onto the grounds of the U.S. Capitol this past tax day is now planning a more traditional route back to the building. He's running for Congress. Though, he won't say exactly where in Florida he plans to run, and the campaign depends on whether a judge actually even lets him leave his current home county

Douglas Hughes, a 62-year-old former employee of the U.S. Postal Service, caused panic and headlines back in April when he flew the gyrocopter near the capitol. The airspace above the U.S. Capitol is, of course, heavily restricted. At the time, he had letters for every single member of Congress pleading for campaign finance reform. He was arrested before he could actually deliver those letters. 

Hughes was indicted and originally faced up to ten years in prison. However, he took a plea deal. His lawyers asked for a maximum of ten months in prison but he could face up to three years.

Hughes now plans to run as a Democrat in a primary against an incumbent Democrat. Hughes actually likes Rep. Kathy Castor, who represents the district he lives in, and wants to take on someone outside of his district. The problem is, he currently can't leave Hillsborough County as he awaits sentencing. He's hoping a judge will excuse those restrictions so he can formally announce his candidacy and actively campaign. 

Why is he so intent on running? Well, for the same reason he flew the aircraft to the Capitol in the first place: campaign finance reform. 

“I fully intend to get the money out of politics. It’s very much the reason that I flew,” Hughes told DC publication Roll Call. “I know where I want to run but I’m an old traditionalist.”

Hughes says he wants to take on a congressperson that has completely sold out to donors. There's some speculation he could end up trying to run in South Florida against Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the head of the Democratic National Committee, though he hasn't confirmed those plans. In Florida, someone doesn't actually have to live in a district to run in it. 

“I am going to take a sold-out Democrat who I described as the poster child of establishment politics on the Democratic side,” Hughes added to Roll Call.

Hughes also has the blessing of Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard professor who briefly ran in the Democratic presidential primary on the single issue of campaign finance reform. Lessig wrote a letter to the judge in the case urging her to let Hughes leave Hillsborough in order to run. 

Now, maybe you're thinking, "Wait, but he's going to end up in prison, right?" Yes, he most likely will, though that isn't deterring him. His sentencing is scheduled for April 13. 


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