James Windle, Independent candidate for Washington state's 8th District. (Anh-Thu Mai-Windle)

We’ve got a campaign slogan for James Windle: “Speak softly and carry a really big stick.”

The former federal bureaucrat is running for Congress in his home state of Washington. In a campaign Web video, Windle introduces himself to voters — and shows off by jogging in the mountains with a huge cedar log on his shoulder.

“I’m very used to people telling me I can’t do things,” Windle told us Tuesday. “So I’ve developed a fitness regimen that’s very good for blowing off steam.”

In D.C., he exercised with friends by carrying rocks up a very steep hill in Great Falls park. Political metaphor alert! “People have called me Sisyphus,” he said. When that got old, he switched to a large log he found at a construction site. He tried carrying it once during an early-morning run on the Mall that seemed to alarm the police, so he switched to a Virginia park.

Now he’s got a homegrown log (37 pounds, five feet long) but only gets a chance to run with it a couple times a week — what with all those 15-hour days introducing himself to voters: “I’m getting weaker from all this campaigning.”

But underneath his mountain-man beard lies the heart of a D.C. policy wonk itching for the big time. Windle, 36, has a classic D.C. resume: A degree in political science; a decade working at OMB, House Appropriations Committee and Defense Department; an attorney wife who works at Justice.

The congressional seat beckoned in the form of a redrawn 8th District with his home town in the middle. Windle quit his job teaching at the National Defense University, drove 56 hours straight across the country, and filed to run as an independent.

What are Windle’s chances of becoming the fittest man in Congress? He’s running against incumbent Republican Dave Reichert, a little-known Democrat and three others; Windle is trying to make the case that he has all the D. C. experience without any of the partisan party baggage.

“It’s wide open,” he told us. “We’re right in the hunt.”

Washington’s open primary is on Aug. 7; the top two finishers will face off in November’s general election.

Video: James Windle, Candidate, U.S. Congress)

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