As an aide to the former House Republican leader, Chad Barefoot worked the halls of the legislative office building long enough to come to a realization: "I can do this."
Now Barefoot, 28, is a candidate for the new state Senate seat in District 18. "I come from a long line of public servants," he said. "I have always been passionate about helping people through public policy."
Barefoot worked as an aide for state Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam for six years, including the last three in Stam's legislative office as a policy analyst. He resigned his position at the end of November as he launched his first political bid. He is now the business development direction at Pioneer Strategies, a public relations firm run by Frank Williams.
The new district including Franklin County and parts of eastern Wake County, forming a reverse "c" that stretches from Rolesville through parts of Zebulon, Knightdale, Garner and Fuquay-Varina. Barefoot is a Thomasville native but his parents grew up in Garner. He now lives in Wake Forest.
State Rep. Glen Bradley, a Youngsville Republican, is also seeking the seat. Bradley's libertarian streak is legendary: He suggested that the state create its own currency and proposed removing the state from the certification of marriage.
The match-up makes for an interesting primary race given that Bradley, who has often bucked his party, faces the aide of the House GOP leader. Barefoot, however, says he isn't running as the establishment challenge to Bradley. He said he considered entering politics for a longtime and doesn't want to "tear down people in my own party to build myself up."
Barefoot, who received a graduate degree in Christian ethics from Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, is married to Paige Barefoot, an aide to House Speaker Pro Tem Dale Folwell. Her mother is Tami Fitzgerald, a lobbyist who worked with Stam and Folwell to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to ban gay marriage and civil unions.