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A Student Introduction: Congressman David Price

I believe I can speak for all of the Polis Student Committee when I say we are beyond ecstatic about Congressman Price’s return to Duke.

Price’s interest in Congress did not begin with a fascination with the tricky art of legislation or the theoretical foundation of democracy. Price simply saw different problems and knew that we as the people had an obligation to fix them. Beyond his moral drive towards the flourishing of the American people, Price understands the necessity of bipartisanship, and unity in general. However, even with all these great things in mind, let us not forget that Price was a professor before he was a congressman!

With his return here to Duke, Price is not simply beginning a new journey after his retirement from Congress. In many ways, he is returning home. We are honored and thrilled to have Congressman David E. Price join us once again. Welcome back, Congressman Price!

Noah Vaughn (’24)

By Calvin Cho (’26), Kunal Khaware (’26), & Noah Vaughn (MDiv ’24)

David Eugene Price was born in 1940 in Erwin, Tennessee, a small town near the border of North Carolina. Price is the son of an English teacher and a high school principal, instilling the value of education from an early age.

Price went on to attend Mars Hill College (now known as Mars Hill University) before transferring to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill thanks to a Morehead Scholarship. Price explored various vocational routes, studying history and mathematics at UNC before continuing his education at Yale University to pursue a Bachelor of Divinity degree and a PH.D. in political science.

Price was inspired by the Civil Rights movement during his time at UNC Chapel Hill and Yale University. Price led the charge for and was able to pass a resolution in the student legislature which called for Chapel Hill’s local businesses to integrate their marketplaces.

His passion for ethics and public service was strengthened after witnessing Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. give his “I Have a Dream” speech at the National Mall and watching the Civil Rights Act pass in Congress.

Before starting his political career, Price served as a professor of political science and public policy here at Duke University from 1973 to 1986.

Congressman David Price has maintained a consistent election history, winning every election but one. In the Election of 1986, Price defeated a one-term Representative named Bill Cobey, winning his seat in Congress for the first time. He would go on to be reelected in 1988, 1990, and 1992. He unfortunately lost in the Election of 1994 during the “Republican Revolution” to the former police chief of Raleigh Fred Heineman by less than 1%. However, Price was reelected in 1996 by over a 10% margin. He would continue winning by comfortable margins from 1998 to 2020 before retiring in 2022. During his time in Congress, he served on the Committee on Appropriations, working in the Subcommittee on Homeland Security, the Legislative Branch, and the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies.

His primary policy objectives included investments in transportation infrastructure, affordable housing and education, and efforts to strengthen democracy nationally and globally. As a chair for the bipartisan commission House Democracy Partnership (HDP), he strengthened institutional support for emerging democracies. His book, The Congressional Experience, gives a firsthand look at the structures of Congress as an institution as well as the ethics of public service.

Price’s illustrious tenure in Congress has undoubtedly illustrated the positive impact of government and public service. Price holds countless legislative accomplishments under his name, and his career in Congress highlights the pivotal transitions that helped shape national and modern-day politics. His legacy and faith in the power of government and policy will live on as a faculty member and Polis Distinguished Fellow at Duke University.

About the Authors:

(From left to right) Calvin Cho, Kunal Khaware, Noah Vaughn

(From right to left):
Calvin Cho (’26) is from Irvine, California and is planning on studying statistics and computer science.
Kunal Khaware (’26) is from the Bay Area, California. He is studying Political Science as a Robertson Scholar at UNC-Chapel Hill & Duke.
Noah Vaughn (’24) is a Master of Divinity student from Red Oak, Texas.