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October 26, 2022

The Remarkable Team of Tiffany and Scott Smiley

It’s hard to imagine a more challenging and improbable journey than the one being taken by these two American Patriots.

Republican Tiffany Smiley, a political novice and a candidate for the U.S. Senate in deep-blue Washington state, is remarkably within striking distance of five-term Senator Patty Murray, who was first elected 30 years ago. Indeed, a recent Trafalgar poll had Smiley down just two points, 49-47.

Normally, that’d be the big story in the Smiley family. But not in this case.

Back in 2005, from his bed in Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Tiffany’s husband, Scott, could remember Mosul, Iraq, and he could remember a car driving toward his armored combat vehicle. He could remember shouting and waving it back, and the hot white light and the loud noise. Then nothing. As he wrote in Guideposts:

“We performed the final surgery last night,” the doctor told me. Since my injury two weeks before, military doctors in Iraq, Germany, and the U.S. had operated on me several times, removing shrapnel from my head and eyes and cutting my skull open to relieve the swelling in my brain. For most of that time I had been in a medically induced coma. “I’m sorry, Lieutenant Smiley,” the doctor continued. “There’s nothing more we can do for you. Your blindness is permanent.”

Just five years earlier, when he entered West Point, he’d been certain, even cocky, about his future. But now, lying in that hospital bed with his wife at his side — a wife whose big smile, cute nose, and delicate face he’d loved since high school but would now never see again — Scott could feel everything being “washed away in darkness.”

“Do you hear me, God?” he asked “What was the point?”

Tiffany, a triage nurse, sat at Scott’s bedside daily, reading him the Bible, reading him the day’s newspapers, and refusing to give up on him and the dreams he had. She refused to sign Scott’s discharge papers and instead focused on nursing him back to health and helping him learn how to live in an utterly different world. He’s since written a book, Hope Unseen, about his experience, which includes becoming the first blind active-duty officer in the U.S. Army.

As for Tiffany, she debated Patty Murray this past Sunday night, and she took the fight to her on a number of fronts.

“Our cities are being destroyed by crime, our police are not being supported,” Smiley said. “In addition to the crime, we have fentanyl all over our streets. … We’re allowing a humanitarian crisis to unfold right before our eyes, we’re allowing people to poison themselves to death, and we do nothing.”

The contrast between Tiffany Smiley and Patty Murray couldn’t be any more stark. Smiley still has a heavy lift to win a Senate seat in “progressive” Washington, a state whose vast expanse is largely conservative but that is driven politically by the youngish, tech-focused population of Seattle. But the November 8 midterms are shaping up to be a wave election, and Tiffany Smiley’s improbable candidacy may well benefit from it.

Whether the Smileys and their three boys head to Washington, DC, in January will be up to the people of their home state. But their story of perseverance, patriotism, and selfless American service deserves to be celebrated.

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