Rhonda Foxx on her ‘superwoman cape’

She was one of the youngest women of color to land a top job on the Hill — and now she’s trying for a repeat

Rhonda Foxx, former chief of staff for Rep. Alma Adams, is running for Congress in North Carolina’s 6th District. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rhonda Foxx, former chief of staff for Rep. Alma Adams, is running for Congress in North Carolina’s 6th District. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted January 30, 2020 at 5:00am

If you know where to look, you can spot Rhonda Foxx’s “superwoman cape.” Hint: It’s not draped behind her.

It’s worn on her wrist — a large metallic bracelet that she twists whenever she’s feeling self-doubt. “If you ever see me speak, you’re going to see me touch a cuff,” she told me on a recent Sunday night.

Foxx started out on Capitol Hill as an intern. Within five years, she became a chief of staff — one of the youngest women of color to ever hold the job. Now she’s running for Congress in North Carolina’s newly redrawn 6th District, hoping to repeat that achievement.

She’s under 40, vying for a seat in a body that is overwhelmingly white and male, and thinking of “all these little girls” looking up to her.

She’s also trying to say “I” more. “You don’t say ‘I,’ as a staffer,” she said of making the transition to candidate. Donors have told her she should quit saying “we.”

It’s not the only old habit that’s followed her. She may no longer be working for her former boss, North Carolina Democratic Rep. Alma Adams, but she’s still working for her approval.

“You’re gonna stand on your own two feet,” Foxx recalls her boss telling her. “You’re gonna get out there and earn people’s endorsements on your own.”

When Foxx left the Hill in October, she went back home to North Carolina with “no plan” to run for office, but when she saw the new boundaries of the 6th District (and the retirement of incumbent Republican Rep. Mark Walker), she was convinced that someone like her could win.

“I wouldn’t have gotten in the race if there was another African American woman,” she said.

The primary is March 3, and Foxx admits that the weekend work she used to put in as a chief of staff was “nothing like this.”

She used to meal prep and post photos of her workouts on her Instagram, @RFoxxFit. Between all the door-knocking and the pressure of being a candidate (“Everything is under inspection: The way you dress, the way you talk”), she doesn’t have much time left for that, but she can still squeeze in a 30-minute jog, complete with a very home-state playlist.

“There’s no way you can be back in North Carolina and running for political office and not throw Petey Pablo in,” Foxx said.