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David Kustoff

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David Kustoff
Official portrait, 2017
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 8th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2017
Preceded byStephen Fincher
United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee
In office
March 16, 2006[1] – May 16, 2008[2]
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byTerrell Lee Harris
Succeeded byEdward L. Stanton III
Personal details
David Frank Kustoff

(1966-10-08) October 8, 1966 (age 57)
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
SpouseRoberta Kustoff
EducationUniversity of Memphis (BA, JD)
WebsiteHouse website

David Frank Kustoff (/ˈkʌstɒf/; born October 8, 1966) is an American politician and attorney serving as the United States representative from Tennessee's 8th congressional district. The district includes the bulk of West Tennessee, but most of its population is in the eastern part of the Memphis area, including the eastern fourth of Memphis itself. From 2006 to 2008, Kustoff served as a United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee. He is one of two Jewish Republicans in Congress, alongside Max Miller.

Early life, education, and career[edit]

David Frank Kustoff was born in Memphis on October 8, 1966, and raised in the Memphis area.[3][4] He graduated from Memphis's White Station High School in 1985.[5] Kustoff attended the University of Memphis, graduating Omicron Delta Kappa and with a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1989. He then attended the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, graduating in 1992.[6]

In 1998, Kustoff opened a law firm with Jim Strickland, whom he met at the University of Memphis. Both became active in Tennessee politics; Strickland was elected mayor of Memphis in 2015.[7]

Political career[edit]

Kustoff became active in politics during the 1990s, when he chaired the Republican Party of Shelby County. He served as George W. Bush's campaign chair in Tennessee during the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. On August 8, 2002, Kustoff was named campaign chair for Lamar Alexander's 2002 Senate campaign.[8] In December 2002, he criticized Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott after Lott praised Strom Thurmond for the harm that it would do to Republican outreach to minorities.[9]

In 2002, Representative Ed Bryant announced that he would not seek reelection in Tennessee's 7th congressional district, which at the time included Kustoff's home in eastern Memphis, and would instead run in the senatorial election. On April 3, Kustoff announced that he would seek the Republican nomination to succeed Bryant. He lost the Republican primary to State Senator Marsha Blackburn, who won with a plurality of 40.32%. Kustoff finished second with 20.24% of the vote and performed the best in the Memphis area, but two other Memphians split that region's vote.[10] During the primary campaign Kustoff said he had an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association of America (NRA); in fact, the NRA had never rated him. Kustoff had filled out a questionnaire that the NRA said would have given him an A rating; Kustoff's campaign said that the candidate misspoke when he made his claim.[11]

United States Attorney[edit]

In 2006, President Bush nominated Kustoff as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee. The U.S. Senate confirmed him.[5][12] 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.[13] Kustoff also worked to reduce crime in the Memphis area, joining a group of Memphis leaders and law enforcement officials called Operation Safe Community.[14]

Kustoff resigned as U.S. Attorney shortly before the 2008 election and returned to his private practice.[12]

U.S House of Representatives[edit]


In February 2016, Stephen Fincher announced that he would not run for reelection in Tennessee's 8th congressional district. Kustoff announced his campaign in February; eastern Memphis had been shifted from the 7th to the 8th in the 2010 redistricting. 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.[15][12][16] He narrowly won the primary with a plurality of 27.45% of the vote. Shelby County Commissioner George Flinn finished second with 23.08%. Kustoff faced Democratic nominee Rickey Hobson, a Delta Air Lines manager and Somerville, Tennessee resident, in the general election. He visited all 15 counties in the district and urged skeptical Republicans to support Donald Trump for the presidency.[17] Kustoff defeated Hobson in the general election,[18] but had effectively assured himself of a seat in Congress with his primary victory. The addition of the Memphis suburbs had turned the 8th into one of the most Republican districts in the nation; with a Cook Partisan Voting Index of R+15, it was the most Republican district in the state outside East Tennessee.

In 2018 George Flinn ran against Kustoff for the Republican nomination and spent millions on his campaign, but Kustoff won with 56.00% of the vote to Flinn's 39.67%.[19]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Political positions[edit]

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. 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.[21]

National security[edit]

Kustoff supported Trump's 2017 executive order to impose a temporary ban on entry to the U.S. to citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, saying, "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."[22]

LGBT Rights[edit]

On December 2022, Kustoff was one of 169 Republicans who voted against the Respect for Marriage Act which would require all U.S states to recognize same-sex marriage.[23] Kustoff voted against the Equality Act which would amend the original Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect people from dicrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.[24]

Texas v. Pennsylvania[edit]

In December 2020, Kustoff was one of 126 Republican members of the House of Representatives to sign an amicus brief in support of Texas v. Pennsylvania, a lawsuit filed at the United States Supreme Court contesting the results of the 2020 presidential election, in which Joe Biden prevailed over incumbent Donald Trump.[25] The Supreme Court declined to hear the case on the basis that Texas lacked standing under Article III of the Constitution to challenge the results of an election held by another state.[26][27][28]

Personal life[edit]

Kustoff is Jewish and married to Roberta Kustoff, who is also a lawyer at the Kustoff and Strickland Firm. They have two children.[29] They live in Germantown, an eastern suburb of Memphis.

He and Max Miller are the only two Republican Jewish members of the House of Representatives.[30]

Kustoff served on the board of directors of BankTennessee and as a member of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.[31][32]

Electoral history[edit]

David Kustoff electoral history
2002 Tennessee Seventh Congressional District Republican Primary[33]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Marsha Blackburn 36,633 40.32%
Republican David Kustoff 18,392 20.24%
Republican Brent Taylor 14,139 15.56%
Republican Mark Norris 13,104 14.42%
Republican Forrest Shoaf 7,319 8.06%
Republican Sonny Carlota 642 0.71%
Republican Randy Starkey 628 0.69%
Republican Other 9 0.01%
Total votes '90,866' '100.00%'
2016 Tennessee Eighth Congressional District Republican Primary[34]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican David Kustoff 16,889 27.45%
Republican George Flinn 14,200 23.08%
Republican Mark Luttrell 10,878 17.68%
Republican Brian Kelsey 7,942 12.91%
Republican Brad Greer 6,819 11.08%
Republican Tom Leatherwood 2,620 4.26%
Republican Hunter Baker 1,014 1.65%
Republican Ken Atkins 410 0.67%
Republican Raymond Honeycutt 231 0.38%
Republican George B. Howell 211 0.34%
Republican David Wharton 131 0.21%
Republican Dave Bault 109 0.18%
Republican David J. Maldonado 76 0.12%
Total votes '61,530' '100.00%'

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "PN1343 - Nomination of David F. Kustoff for Department of Justice, 109th Congress (2005-2006)". March 16, 2006.
  2. ^ "David Kustoff Resigning as United States Attorney".
  3. ^ "Guide to the New Congress" (PDF). Roll Call. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 24, 2018. Retrieved January 3, 2017.
  4. ^ 1987 OUTSTANDING YOUNG MEN OF AMERICA. April 4, 1987. ISBN 9789997310811. Retrieved April 4, 2018 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Dedrick, Blair. "Leading by example". The University of Memphis Magazine. Archived from the original on January 18, 2017. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  7. ^ Poe, Ryan (August 14, 2015). "Profile: Strickland runs on humor, faith". The Commercial Appeal. Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  8. ^ "David Kustoff named campaign chairman for Lamar Alexander". The Leaf-Chronicle. August 9, 2002. p. 2. Archived from the original on December 25, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ "Frist denounces Lott remarks, says words aren't values of GOP". The Jackson Sun. December 13, 2013. p. 4. Archived from the original on December 25, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ "Attorneys from Nashville, Memphis enter campaign to replace Bryant in House". The Tennessean. April 4, 2002. p. 18. Archived from the original on December 25, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  11. ^ "Candidate's claims stir debate". The Tennessean. July 23, 2002. p. 62. Archived from the original on December 25, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ a b c "Huckabee campaigns for David Kustoff, adding celebrity power in crowded race for Congressional seat". The Commercial Appeal. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  13. ^ Baird, Woody (August 28, 2007). "Ex-senator sentenced in Tennessee Waltz". USA Today. Associated Press. Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  14. ^ "Crimetracker: Joe Birch sits down with U.S. Attorney David Kustoff". wmcactionnews5.com. November 23, 2006. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  15. ^ "Congressional candidate update". The Jackson Sun. February 12, 2016. p. B1. Archived from the original on December 25, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  16. ^ "Kustoff Victory Caps TV, Outsider Heavy Congressional Campaign". Memphis Daily News. August 8, 2016. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  17. ^ "David Kustoff Launches General Election "Kick-Off Tour" in Tennessee's 8th District – David Kustoff for Congress". Catch Digital Strategy. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  18. ^ "Kustoff wins District 8 seat". Retrieved April 4, 2018.
  19. ^ "Flinn's willingness to spend his own millions makes for competitive race vs. Kustoff in District 8". July 25, 2018.
  20. ^ "Member List". Republican Study Committee. Archived from the original on January 1, 2019. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ Blake, Aaron (January 29, 2017). "Coffman, Gardner join Republicans against President Trump's travel ban; here's where the rest stand". Denver Post. Retrieved January 30, 2017.
  23. ^ Otten, Tori; Thakker, Prem; Otten, Tori; Thakker, Prem; Tomasky, Michael; Thakker, Prem; Thakker, Prem; Otten, Tori; Otten, Tori (November 1, 2022). "Full List of 169 Republicans Who Voted Against Protecting Same-Sex Marriage". The New Republic. ISSN 0028-6583. Retrieved January 3, 2024.
  24. ^ "H.R. 5: Equality Act -- House Vote #217 -- May 17, 2019". GovTrack.us. Retrieved January 3, 2024.
  25. ^ Blood, Michael R.; Riccardi, Nicholas (December 5, 2020). "Biden officially secures enough electors to become president". AP News. Archived from the original on December 8, 2020. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  26. ^ Liptak, Adam (December 11, 2020). "Supreme Court Rejects Texas Suit Seeking to Subvert Election". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on December 11, 2020. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  27. ^ "Order in Pending Case" (PDF). Supreme Court of the United States. December 11, 2020. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 11, 2020. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  28. ^ Diaz, Daniella. "Brief from 126 Republicans supporting Texas lawsuit in Supreme Court". CNN. Archived from the original on December 12, 2020. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  29. ^ Hearn, Rebekah (April 30, 2009). "Married Attorneys: Working Together A Bonus for Clients". Memphis Daily News.
  30. ^ "Jewish Members of the 114th Congress". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  31. ^ Our Board of Directors Archived November 12, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, BankTennessee (accessed September 14, 2016).
  32. ^ "Haslam Makes Appointments to State Boards and Commissions" (Press release). Office of the Governor of Tennessee. October 16, 2015. Archived from the original on September 19, 2016. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  33. ^ "TN District 7 - R Primary 2002". September 5, 2011.
  34. ^ "TN District 2 - R Primary 2016". October 8, 2016.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Phil Langsdon
Chair of the Shelby County Republican Party
Succeeded by
Alan Crone
Legal offices
Preceded by
Terrell Lee Harris
United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee
Succeeded by
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 8th congressional district

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by United States representatives by seniority
Succeeded by