On a normal day, T. Greg Doucette comes home to relax with his cranky beagle, often after meeting with lawyers and policymakers during the day.
But life was not always so stable for Doucette, who is running unopposed in the Republican primary for N.C. Senate for District 22, which encompasses parts of Durham County.
Doucette was forced to drop out of N.C. State University in 2000 due to financial pressures. And he was later faced with many people's worst fear: He was homeless.
But what could have derailed his life served as a turning point, Doucette said. He got a job at a UPS store, where he worked from 3 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day to get himself back on his feet. Two years later, he accepted a job at a law firm and found not only financial security, but his passion.
With his eyes set on law school, Doucette reenrolled at N.C. State and finished his degree in 2009. He served two terms as president of Student Senate and the president of the UNC Association of Student Governments — which gave him a non-voting seat on the UNC-system Board of Governors.
The board has changed since his time, Doucette said.
“The Board of Governors has always been partisan, the difference now is that they’re not cordial," he said. "They used to disagree in their meetings and then afterwards go have a drink and talk out the differences. I just don’t see that happening now.”
Doucette said during his time on the board, he helped to enact six different measures through the ASG to amplify student input.
“I made a concerted effort to bring students from all 17 campuses with me to (BOG) meetings to ensure that student voices were heard,” he said.
Serving in this capacity shifted his focus onto higher education policy and changed the trajectory of his career, he said.
While at the N.C. Central School of Law, Doucette was elected president of the school's Student Bar Association and founded a start-up incubator for sole proprietors, or lawyers who wish to start their own practice.
After his 2012 graduation, Doucette said he had no political motivation.
“I didn’t see myself running for elected office at all,” he said. “I had my set of issues that I wanted to address in my legal career, but that was it.”
But as a candidate for the N.C. Senate, Doucette has made reforming higher education a part of his three-point priority plan — which also includes job growth and court reform.
And those closest to him have no doubt he can achieve these goals.
“As a teacher, I can only hope folks like Greg replace the lunatics that have dismantled our education system in Raleigh,” said Ashley Yopp, a current Ph.D. candidate at Texas A&M University and longtime personal friend of Doucette’s.
Several of Doucette's tweets, describing the racially-charged nature of what he says was shoddy police work that an African-American client of his suffered last month, recently went viral.
"What you saw in the Twitter feed is the person he has always been — a person committed to helping those who need help," said Kenneth Webb, who served with Doucette in Student Congress at N.C. State, in an email.
Doucette said this case, along with other situations he has encountered working as a lawyer, has shown him the importance of police oversight and court reform.
“Greg is committed to standing with those who are victims of brutality and does not just reflexively defend the police as many Republicans do,” Webb said.
Though Webb is a Democrat, he said he has known Doucette as someone who interacts with a diverse group of people and opinions.
Yopp said while Doucette is running as a Republican, he is not the type of person to let party labels interfere with his overall goals.
“Greg's a problem solver, strategist and die-hard advocate for what's right; he's a game changer,” she said.
Doucette said serving the people of North Carolina is his top priority, regardless of party affiliation.
“We need to bring common sense back to our politics — we need to put aside the partisan fights and get things done,” he said.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.