Tao Berman

Pro kayaker Berman, 29, made a name for himself by hucking hundred-foot waterfalls. But this fall, he's attempting his most daring feat yet: running for the legislature, as a Democrat in Washington State.


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OUTSIDE: Never saw this coming.
BERMAN: People have always said they could see me as a politician.

What’s your plan?

Among other things, tax incentives for businesses that relocate to my district. If companies know they can move to White Salmon from Seattle and cut rents by a third, we’re going to put my town on the map.

Done paddling?

No. Most athletes get involved in politics after retiring. I don’t want to wait.

Can voters take a kayaker seriously?

Part of my job is making sure that people take me seriously. Athletes are known for being playboys who party all night. The reason I’m running has nothing to do with that. I want to make a difference.

Any thoughts on making a difference for salmon?

There’s a dam that the salmon go through, and sea lions are coming in and slaughtering them. So the big question is: Do you kill the sea lions? It’s complicated.

Clubbing sea lions might not be a popular policy.

I would fully agree.