David Kustoff

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David Kustoff
Kustoff Official Headshot.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 8th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2017
Preceded by Stephen Fincher
U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee
In office
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Terrell Lee Harris
Succeeded by Edward L. Stanton III
Personal details
Born David Frank Kustoff
(1966-10-08) October 8, 1966 (age 51)
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Roberta Kustoff
Education University of Memphis (BA, JD)
Website House website

David Frank Kustoff (/ˈkʌstɒf/; born October 8, 1966) is an American politician and attorney from the state of Tennessee. He served as a United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee from 2006 until 2008, and is the member of the United States House of Representatives for Tennessee's 8th congressional district. The district includes much of West Tennessee, including the eastern fourth of Memphis and most of its suburbs.

Early life and career[edit]

Kustoff was born on October 8, 1966 in Memphis,[1][2] and raised in Shelby County, Tennessee. He graduated from Memphis' White Station High School in 1985.[3] Kustoff attended the University of Memphis, graduating with a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1989. He then attended the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, graduating in 1992.[4]

In 1998, Kustoff opened a law firm with Jim Strickland, who he met at the University of Memphis. Both would become active in Tennessee politics; Strickland was elected Mayor of Memphis in 2015.[5]

Kustoff became active in politics during the 1990s, in which he was chair of the Republican Party of Shelby County. He continued his political career in the 2000s, chairing George W. Bush's election campaigns in 2000 and 2004, as well as chairing the campaign of Lamar Alexander for one of Tennessee's seats in the U.S. Senate in 2002.[6]

Kustoff unsuccessfully ran for Congress in the Republican primary for Tennessee's 7th congressional district in 2002. At the time, the district stretched from eastern Memphis to the Nashville suburbs. However, with two other Memphians, State Senator Mark Norris and city councilman Brent Taylor, splitting the Memphis area's vote, the primary was won by the only major candidate from the Nashville suburbs, State Senator Marsha Blackburn, who went on to win the general election.[7]

Kustoff is a member of the Republican Study Committee.[8]

U.S. Attorney[edit]

In 2006, President Bush appointed Kustoff the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee.[3][9] During his tenure in office, Kustoff prosecuted the Operation Tennessee Waltz, after which John Ford, a prominent Tennessee politician, and others were sent to prison.[10] Kustoff also worked to reduce crime in the Memphis area, joining a group of Memphis leaders and law enforcement officials called Operation Safe Community.[11]

Kustoff resigned as U.S. Attorney in shortly before the 2008 election, choosing to return to his private practice.[9]

2016 congressional campaign[edit]

Republican primary[edit]

In February 2016, Stephen Fincher announced that he would not run for re-election in Tennessee's 8th congressional district. Redistricting four years earlier had shifted eastern Memphis and most of its suburbs to the 8th. Kustoff joined a crowded Republican primary—the real contest in this heavily Republican district. He faced off against local leaders such as Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, physician and former County Commissioner George Flinn, Shelby County Register of Deeds Tom Leatherwood, and State Senator Brian Kelsey. Flinn self-financed his campaign, spending $2.9 million, much of which went to TV ads.[7]

Kustoff emphasized the themes of law and order and reducing crime, as well as campaigning on reducing illegal immigration and bringing down West Tennessee's high poverty rate. He praised Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam's Tennessee Promise program, which offers two years of free community college education to qualifying Tennessee residents.[6] Kustoff began to emerge from the crowded pack when he was endorsed by former Arkansas Governor and Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who filmed ads for Kustoff and campaigned with him.[9] Kustoff won the Republican primary, outperforming better-funded and more well-known candidates. The race reflected the lowest primary turnout in the district since 2004.[7]

General election[edit]

Kustoff faced Democrat Rickey Hobson, a Delta Air Lines manager and Somerville, Tennessee resident. This district is one of the most Republican districts in the nation, and Kustoff was heavily favored to win. In spite of this, Kustoff ran an active campaign, kicking off a tour of the district's 15 counties and urging skeptical Republicans to support Donald Trump for the presidency.[12] Kustoff defeated Hobson in the general election.[13]

Political stances[edit]

National security[edit]

Kustoff supported President Donald Trump's 2017 executive order to impose a temporary ban on entry to the U.S. to citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries. He stated that “I believe President Trump is putting American safety first, and I will encourage a long-term plan that is consistent with the values and compassion on which our great nation was founded.”[14]

Health care[edit]

Kustoff voted for the American Health Care Act in May 2017. "[O]ur current health care system is failing Tennesseans", he said afterwards. Later that month, a woman angrily confronted him about that vote during a town hall meeting at the University of Tennessee at Martin; after the meeting ended and Kustoff along with some of his staff got into their car, she gave chase and allegedly attempted to run them off the road, then confronted them again about Kustoff's vote, reportedly banging on the windows of his car in the process. Police later arrested her on a felony charge of reckless endangerment.[15]

Personal life[edit]

David Kustoff is married to Roberta Kustoff, who is also a lawyer at the Kustoff and Strickland Firm. The couple has two children.[16] He practices Judaism, and, along with Lee Zeldin, is one of only two Republican Jewish members of the House of Representatives.[17]

Kustoff serves on the board of directors of BankTennessee[18] and as a member of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Guide to the New Congress" (PDF). Roll Call. Retrieved January 3, 2017. 
  2. ^ "1987 OUTSTANDING YOUNG MEN OF AMERICA". April 4, 1987. Retrieved April 4, 2018 – via Google Books. 
  3. ^ a b Ashby, Andrew (April 6, 2006). "Kustoff Puts Leadership Skills to the Test As Lead Prosecutor for West Tennessee". Memphis Daily News. Retrieved September 14, 2016. 
  4. ^ Dedrick, Blair. "Leading by example". The University of Memphis Magazine. Retrieved September 14, 2016. 
  5. ^ Poe, Ryan (August 14, 2015). "Profile: Strickland runs on humor, faith". The Commercial Appeal. Retrieved September 15, 2016. 
  6. ^ a b "PARIS TN: Kustoff hopes to set self apart in Congress race". Retrieved September 14, 2016. 
  7. ^ a b c "Kustoff Victory Caps TV, Outsider Heavy Congressional Campaign". Memphis Daily News. August 8, 2016. Retrieved September 14, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Member List". Republican Study Committee. Retrieved 21 December 2017. 
  9. ^ a b c "Huckabee campaigns for David Kustoff, adding celebrity power in crowded race for Congressional seat". The Commercial Appeal. Retrieved September 14, 2016. 
  10. ^ Baird, Woody (August 28, 2007). "Ex-senator sentenced in Tennessee Waltz". USA Today. Associated Press. Retrieved September 15, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Crimetracker: Joe Birch sits down with U.S. Attorney David Kustoff". wmcactionnews5.com. Retrieved September 14, 2016. 
  12. ^ "David Kustoff Launches General Election "Kick-Off Tour" in Tennessee's 8th District – David Kustoff for Congress". Catch Digital Strategy. Retrieved September 14, 2016. 
  13. ^ "Kustoff wins District 8 seat". Retrieved April 4, 2018. 
  14. ^ Blake, Aaron. "Coffman, Gardner join Republicans against President Trump's travel ban; here's where the rest stand". Denver Post. Retrieved 30 January 2017. 
  15. ^ Nashrulla, Tasneem (May 14, 2017). "A Woman Allegedly Tried To Run A Republican Congressman Off The Road Over His Vote To Repeal Obamacare". Buzzfeed. Retrieved May 14, 2017. 
  16. ^ Rebekah Hearn (April 30, 2009). "Married Attorneys: Working Together A Bonus for Clients". Memphis Daily News. 
  17. ^ "Jewish Members of the 114th Congress". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved September 14, 2016. 
  18. ^ Our Board of Directors, BankTennessee (accessed September 14, 2016).
  19. ^ "Haslam Makes Appointments to State Boards and Commissions" (Press release). Office of the Governor of Tennessee. October 16, 2015. 

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Stephen Fincher
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 8th congressional district

Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Raja Krishnamoorthi
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Al Lawson