John Haywood, 66, a retired investor from Durham, NC, speaks with the precision one might expect from a former Navy JAG lawyer. His favored numbers, the ones he can cite with such fluency, involve the rising costs of health care. As in: the United States spends $7900 per person on health care, versus just $2900 in the UK.
For Haywood, who looks a bit like William F. Buckley, talks like Jimmy Carter, and thinks like Robert Reich, this is a personal fight. When we interviewed him in his extended stay suite south of Manchester, his devoted, but ailing wife rested in the next room, having suffered a compression fracture because of osteoporosis. So, despite his personal wealth—he spent almost $100,000 on his campaign so far—he understands what it’s like to be pressured by health care crises.
Haywood’s call to this race, he says, dates back to his days at tony Episcopal High School outside of Washington, DC, when he and a friend (“we were the only democrats in the whole school”) snuck off to hear John F. Kennedy’s famous “ask not what you can do for your country” inauguration speech. In a similar vein, he says, he could not stand by as income equality reached today’s epic levels. And he’s quite serious about victory Tuesday night: “There’s only one reason to be in this thing,” he says, “and that’s to win it.”