This week, Republican medical technology executive Kendall Qualls of Medina joined the political fray by announcing his congressional campaign. He’s challenging first-term Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips, and if elected, he’d be Minnesota’s first black Republican in Congress.
“I didn’t have a life of privilege,” his campaign website reads. “I grew up in poverty, and success came the old-fashioned way: I had to earn it.” He promised, if elected, to put “partisan game playing” aside and “focus on the issues that matter.”
So far, he hasn’t shared much information on the issues themselves. In interviews, he’s said he supports (and voted for) President Donald Trump and agrees with his policies, but that “his style is not my style.”
But it’s possible to learn a little about the Qualls of a few years ago through an old Kickstarter campaign for a book he intended to write: Man Up and Dress Up: Reviving American Masculinity and Chivalry.
A screenshot of the campaign from back in 2015 reveals “Kendall A. Qualls,” “vice president, marketing at $27 billion global medical device company” as the author – as does an interview with the Daily Camera, a news outlet in Colorado. (Qualls lived there for a time while he was working as a VP of marketing for Medtronic – a “$27 billion global medical device company.”)
Qualls didn’t respond to interview requests about the book (or to confirm or deny it was his) but a description on the page offers a snapshot of the wisdom offered in Man Up. Qualls wrote that he’d picked up on two “trends” he personally found alarming. One: the “decade-long slide that is de-masculating American men.” Second: “the hyper-casual dress of the American male.”
“The ubiquitous T-shirt and baggy jeans worn by young and middle-aged men are seen not only in shopping malls and other public places, but even in mid to upper-mid-tier restaurants,” he wrote.
The Kickstarter description goes on to say he began to notice something “awry” with the American male about 20 years prior, when a “female colleague” mentioned that she and her relatively new boyfriend had decided to “buy a boat together.”
“Immediately I thought, what guy asks his girlfriend to buy a boat with him? If he wanted a boat, he could buy his own darn boat! I couldn’t believe it,” he wrote. “How could a guy who would ask his girlfriend to help him buy a recreational item have any respect for himself or his girlfriend? What a loser!”
This was, he wrote, one of many threats he saw to what it meant to be a “masculine man,” and with this book, he intended to “challenge” men to be men again. He stressed this wasn’t about “putting women in their places,” and it wasn’t some kind of “anti-gay campaign” (???) – but it was… something.
“What I am promoting is a modern-day knight,” he wrote – a knight who would be a “blend” of “Jimmy Stewart, Chuck Connors, Clint Eastwood, Denzel Washington, and Gene Hackman.”
The campaign description said he planned to publish it by securing backing from a major publishing company, but failing that, he’d self-publish.
Alas, the campaign ended back in 2015 with a goal of $10,000 and a single backer who had contributed $100.