My Story

Many candidates running for public office tout their impressive biographies. They were star athletes. They are famous. They are billionaires. They overcame great adversity and tragedy in life. They now employ thousands. They have a long history of holding public office.

None of those descriptions apply to me. Nevertheless, I suppose you should know my story so that you have a sense of who I am and what makes me tick.

About Quentin

On my campaign website, the “About Quentin” page starts by describing me as an “independent thinker.” Ask my 91-year-old mother to verify that, and she will say I always was a precocious, strong-willed little guy who seemed destined to be a lawyer. (See photo at left above.) The best example Mom cites is when I was four years old, and she said I had to go to bed at 7:30, whereas my big sister was allowed to stay up a half hour longer. “She is three years older, so that’s fair and square,” Mom reasoned. I immediately went into advocacy mode. “No, that’s unfair and triangle,” I insisted.

Then there was the time some evangelizing missionaries came along when my family was out on a dock. Their opening pitch was, “We are fishing for the souls of men.” At age five, I deadpanned back, “We’re fishing for bullheads.” You get the idea of my childhood, so I will only mention in passing that I also was a preteen, pre-Watergate member of “Kids for Nixon,” about which my Republican parents were pleased.

That was my life as a church-going, middle-class boy in a small-town midwestern household with two parents, two sisters, and a little brother.

As a young adult, I did not serve in the military. Instead, I went to college, first became a newspaper reporter, then went to law school, got married, and began a three-decade career as an attorney representing business clients in lawsuits all over the world.

My career and lack of military service led to my most humbling moment and indirectly to my current political campaign. The humbling moment occurred when I was telling my elderly uncle, a World War II veteran, about my business trip for depositions in Paris. “Have you ever been to Paris?” I asked him. “Not since we liberated it,” he chuckled. You see, my uncle had been part of D-Day, the Battle of the Bulge, and the Allies’ march into Paris as the Nazis were forced out. I quickly realized that his was a much more impressive trip to France than my legal case there. My father and uncles all served in the Army, causing me now to want to serve my country in a different “war zone” – Washington, D.C. Although not nearly the sacrifice of those who came before me, it is my way of giving back to this great country.

In addition to their patriotism, I also believe my parents and uncles were some of the most financially conservative people in America. This, too, had quite an influence on me. Rest assured that I would be a careful and detailed “keeper of the purse,” which is the job of the U.S. House of Representatives. To illustrate this point, when I was making around $200 per week as a newspaper reporter between college and law school, I could tell you the cost of each bowl of cereal with milk for breakfast, just as I had calculated the cost of the individual slices of baloney, bread, and condiments for lunch, as well as the macaroni and cheese for dinner. I was not poor or in debt, but I was frugal.

In law school I got good grades and became managing editor of the law review, which led to a federal law clerk position for the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which in turn resulted in a job at a well-respected law firm based in Minneapolis. While that brought me a certain measure of respect locally, it got tougher when defending business clients elsewhere, such as in federal court in Waco, Texas, where – in front of the jury – the judge drawled that “y’all are the only Yankees in the room.” In Michigan on September 11, 2001, after a week-long trial, I delivered a closing argument to a jury just minutes after learning about the terrorist attacks. Our clients were pleased with the results in all of those cases, despite the challenges we typically faced. In all circumstances, I advocated vigorously, using logic, facts, the law, common sense, and clear thinking.

A Charmed Life

Our campaign website shows a few pictures of my family. I have been blessed with a wonderful wife, two smart daughters, two excellent sons-in-law, and the sweetest grandson imaginable. Most importantly, we all have received the gift of a living faith in Jesus Christ.

My final story is about why a happily retired, relatively young, energetic, and healthy person would want to run for Congress. After founding the nonprofit Principle Based Politics post-retirement, I later considered taking on Ilhan Omar, a Democrat, in Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District. I wanted to make a difference in our broken politics, particularly in the U.S. House of Representatives, which needs all the principled help it can get. But redistricting left Rep. Omar’s district a couple of blocks south of our home, which leaves us in the Third District. When current Rep. Dean Phillips announced he was running for president and not coming back to Congress regardless of that outcome, it opened up the perfect seat for me to seek – one that will be much more receptive to my message of responsibility and rationality. I felt called to run.

Mine has been a charmed life, no matter what happens next.

Quentin R. Wittrock

Responsible. Rational. Respected.

3 thoughts on “My Story”

  1. Hi Quentin –

    We are praying for you and this exciting endeavor. May God bless your efforts as you seek to serve our great country…

    All the best!
    Andy & Jane

  2. David N Glesne

    Thank you for the good and insightful autobiographical sketch, Quentin! There is a place and time for such a writing, and I agree now is the time. Push on strongly and steadily!!

  3. As your cousin I’ve known you Quentin your whole life. I remember stopping to see you when you were that young newspaper reporter and didn’t realize you even had cereal in the house! But seriously, I know it is out of patriotism and devotion to our country that you are seeking the office you aspire. You have given much to your profession, your church, and to your family; and have a lot of qualities to give to the people you represent. I know you will do a great job in the US Congress!!

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