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A longtime truck driver enters the political arena

By on November 2, 2015

Robert Gray • Fancy Horse Transportation • Driving for 22 years

One of my favorite movies growing up was Smokey and the Bandit, starring Burt Reynolds. As he hauled a giant load of Coors beer across the South, I felt drawn to the sense of freedom and adventure of life on the open road. Even then I knew I wanted to become a truck driver and, after selling insurance for a while, I finally earned my CDL in 1993.

Throughout my career I have enjoyed a remarkable journey full of twists, turns and detours. I’ve gone everywhere — from bustling city streets to scenic countryside. These days I’m usually hauling a truck full of sweet potatoes from Mississippi to a potato chip factory in Pennsylvania. Driving a truck is the perfect job for someone with a quiet nature, such as myself.

As a truck driver you are fortunate to meet people from all backgrounds, races and religions. Along the way I have enjoyed conversations with many of my fellow truck drivers and we were able to find common ground despite our differences. One of the best things we can do is try to view the world from someone else’s perspective. These moments have helped me to realize that all of us really are the same, no matter where we come from or where we’re going.

All these years later, I put those lessons into practice as the Democratic nominee for governor of Mississippi. Although my foray into politics was unexpected, I take my newfound role very seriously. Being a truck driver and seeing the world a little differently has given me a whole new direction.

I want to use my platform to bring attention to our nation’s truck drivers and the sacrifices they make on a daily basis. Their ability to persevere in the face of tremendous challenges — rising fuel costs, extended periods away from home and unpredictable schedules, for starters — is admirable. I’m proud to count myself among them. It can be difficult for the general public to understand how much they rely on truck drivers and the goods we transport.

My other top priority is to the state of Mississippi and its residents, who are among the most loyal and hardworking people I’ve ever met. We have good schools, abundant natural beauty and a promising economy. But it’s become increasingly difficult for the middle class to make ends meet. I’m curious to hear what their particular challenges and frustrations are and promise to find solutions for them.

What I’d like everyone to know is that my involvement in politics hasn’t changed the values I’ve learned as a truck driver. In fact, I feel like it’s given me a bigger voice to speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves.

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