The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Josh Duggar on his Family Research Council job, new life in Washington

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The new, young political operative in town hasn’t decided whether he’ll ever run for office. It’s a tough job, Josh Duggar knows.

“I admire these people who are willing to put themselves out there,” he told us, “and live in a glass box and be subjected to the media and all those pressures.”

Aw, Josh, you can deal with that! At 25, Duggar has shared most of his adult life with the world as one of the (many) stars of “19 Kids and Counting,” the reality-TV hit about his parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s expansive brood. In June, after years of selling cars in his native Arkansas, Josh made a big move north to D.C., where he is now the executive director of the conservative Family Research Council’s lobbying arm.

In the new season, which began Sept. 17, TLC’s cameras have chronicled Duggar and wife Anna as they settle into the big city — actually, a Maryland suburb he declines to specify — with their three very young kids. But the cameras do not follow him to his advocacy job, keeping “19 Kids” a politically neutral show. “They have a lot of viewers with different viewpoints,” Duggar said. “I obviously do work for a political organization” — FRC is vigilantly anti-abortion, pro-small government, anti-gay marriage — “and I do take specific viewpoints on the issues.” Still: “You will always hear me going into discourse showing Christian love to everyone I come across,” he said. “My goal is to respect and love.”

Tasked with grassroots outreach for FRC, Duggar emphasizes that politics is nothing new — his dad served in the state legislature; he attended Mike Huckabee prayer breakfasts as a kid; and he campaigned for Rick Santorum. As a used-car dealer, “I learned how you make a payroll and treat people right,” he said. “We could use quite a bit of that in politics.” Far from shying from his reality-TV past, FRC has looked to its new hire to leverage his family’s popularity with evangelical and home-schooling communities. On Friday, the entire Duggar crew is expected at FRC’s annual Values Voter Summit in Washington, where Josh will moderate a panel on young rising stars in the conservative movement.

In D.C., he said, his TV fame draws far more attention than in Arkansas, where the neighbors were used to it. “I can’t go anywhere without somebody recognizing me.” It’s made him appreciative of the heightened security that pervades Washington these days. And as to our original question — will he run one day? “I’m just honored to have the opportunity to serve,” he said. “I wouldn’t rule it out in the future, I’ll put it that way — but I have no desire.”

Earlier: Josh Duggar moving to D.C. for political job with Family Research Council, 6/18/13

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