DeFi on the Ballot: Yearn Developer Matt West Is Running for Congress

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First a MakerDAO lobbyist, now a Yearn candidate.

As regulatory stormclouds collect over Washington and crypto advocates search to acquire a louder voice in U.S. politics, one Yearn.Finance developer is operating for Congress on a pro-crypto platform.

That stated, he might have the decentralized finance (DeFi) neighborhood’s assist if he hopes to win.

On Oct. 12, Matt West declared his candidacy for Oregon’s newly shaped sixth U.S. House district. West holds a Ph.D. from the University of Texas in chemical engineering with a spotlight on renewable power, and works at tech big Intel on manufacturing.

In an interview with CoinDesk final month, West stated he received concerned with Yearn final 12 months as a facet gig.

“I got extremely bored with every day being the same, so I started stretching my brain a little bit, started teaching myself Solidity, started working with Yearn, worked with a partner and won their hackathon last year – we integrated Hegic to create that now-defunct vault,” he stated.

Until not too long ago he’s been working with the staff from no-loss lottery protocol PoolTogether on Yearn’s stablecoin yield farming methods.

PoolTogether founder Leighton Cusack not too long ago took to Twitter to precise help for West’s candidacy:

West is notable for being maybe the first DeFi-literate candidate to run for workplace, and is actually the first DeFi developer to launch a marketing campaign.

It’s a welcome improvement for advocates who consider latest actions from legislators – corresponding to an modification to an infrastructure invoice that just about rendered operating an Ethereum node legally not possible – are out of contact and damaging.

Indeed, over the summer time Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) decried crypto’s “shadowy super-coders” – a label that West wears proudly.

“You know, when Warren said that, I said, ‘She’s not wrong,’” he joked.

But whereas many would-be crypto candidates are typically targeted on one concern, West says the seed for his run was planted years in the past, and his platform displays that.

“My state’s constantly on fire, there’s federal overreach, there’s outside protestors like the Proud Boys coming in to start riots – it came to a breaking point,” he informed CoinDesk of his choice to run.

Making a distinction

A rising variety of crypto advocates have toyed with runs in the wake of latest regulatory scrutiny.

Messari founder Ryan Selkis is at present threatening a 2024 run for Senate.

Popular crypto speak present host and proud Alabaman Brian Krogsgard, higher generally known as Ledger, has additionally publicly mused on a run for Senate.

Read extra: Compromise Provision Tanked by Near-Retiree, however Crypto Shows DC It’s Here to Stay

While each Selkis and Krogsgard have been spurred to motion by occasions in the crypto-sphere, West says his choice to run got here after he noticed the crackdown on the Black Lives Matter protests.

“I live in the suburbs of Portland, and my city’s been through hell and back in the last few years. Watching the federal government coming in and kidnapping our civilians off the streets in unmarked vans and taking them to undisclosed locations – that was incredibly terrifying,” he stated.

These views may appear at odds with crypto-bro tradition at first blush, however West argues that people contributing to the know-how sport quite a lot of ideological stripes.

“Crypto is an interesting space. You have die-hard libertarians and people trying to do universal basic income in the same field,” he stated. “To crib from the Republicans, it’s a big tent.”

Unlike Krogsgard and Selkis, West is doing extra than simply speaking a couple of run: He has filed with the relevant authorities, employed a devoted marketing campaign supervisor and has been paying out of pocket for authorized consultations associated to accepting crypto donations.

“This isn’t a vanity project for me. I want to make a difference, and if I can’t do it like this I’ll find another way,” he stated.

Know thy neighbor

It stays considerably up in the air who West’s competitors can be since the borders of Oregon’s sixth district have been solely finalized on Sept. 27.

“It’s a brand-new district, so we don’t really know who’s running yet. We’re going to wait and see – it’ll be an open seat, so it’ll be more of a competitive primary than a competitive general, would be my guess,” West stated.

He does consider, nonetheless, his positions will find yourself being nicely aligned with a strongly Democratic district.

“My actual politics are pretty leftist,” he stated, noting that he holds “pro unionization, pro living wage” views and that he’s vocal about the significance of addressing international local weather change – a famous bugaboo for environmentalists that always view crypto with suspicion, if not outright hostility.

Read extra: How DeFi Can Help Make Climate Change an Investable Asset

He doesn’t suppose local weather activists will maintain his crypto credentials towards him, nonetheless.

“I think my chances become fairly good when you add in that I’ve been in Oregon for some time, I did research on global warming in grad school, for my job I’ve been in the research and development facility at Intel helping design future manufacturing processes – I’ve got academia, global warming and industry experience.”

Money issues

West is fast to confess that, as a relative outsider, his odds hinge primarily on what he can elevate.

“It’s really a matter of riding momentum – it’s a sad fact of politics that early money might determine the issue,” he stated.

He began his marketing campaign by “putting in a little bit to get started and to self-fund the wheels,” together with hiring workers and conducting preliminary analysis.

Now that he’s declared, nonetheless, he says he wants the neighborhood’s help – he even held off on asserting his run on Twitter till his marketing campaign and BitPay managed to navigate the authorized hurdles introduced by crypto donations.

“It was a big deal for me to accept crypto donations from the start of the campaign. There are a few folks who run as crypto-friendly and take donations, but as someone who is coming directly from the crypto community as a developer and contributor it wasn’t just a marketing gimmick,” he stated. “I wanted to show to the crypto community that they matter to me.”