Just over a year ago, I wrote an open letter to Angie Craig and published it here. Shortly after, Angie reached out to me....and I duly reported that in a subsequent episode. We got together in my kitchen, we had a great conversation, and I decided she might be the real thing. That opinion has not changed.
Angie is doing what no one else was doing in this district: listening. This is not to be taken lightly.
Angie's campaign has active offices through the district, in places more often overlooked than noticed. Her team is out there at town events, in the stores, in the cafes, any place people gather, so they can LISTEN to local concerns, local positions, and the challenges of daily living. The thing I keep hearing from friends on the campaign trail is that people are surprised by this...that someone, anyone, actually wants to listen to what they have to say about their own microcosm.
How can that be? How can it be a surprise that candidates and their teams are out there listening to local issues? This should be the most natural part of any campaign.
But, it's not, At least not in this district. Our sitting congressman refuses to hold town halls for any town. And seems to believe that's okay. He has said on several occasions he knows what his constituents want.
Not all his constituents might agree with that presumption.
Listening is more than an interesting exercise. Things are learned, things that are unexpected. Example: in one town, the local hospital is on shaky ground financially, and there is concern it will close. The top local health care concern in that town is not insurance...but whether or not they will even have a hospital to go to. That's huge if you're an hour away from the next available medical center, even if it is the Mayo Clinic. Is anyone listening to that part of the health care debate? Availability isn't just in dollar$; it's just as much about accessibility.
In another small town where Republicans hold sway, the mayor worked to get workforce housing, a state of Minnesota program done with federal support, only to get push-back about not wanting "those kinds of people" in town. Know who lives in that housing? Cops. Fire fighters. Teachers. Restaurant wait-staff. The kind of people who work in the town and dearly want to live there because it's their town. Does that change anything in a red-leaning town? No one knows yet. I hope it does.
That speaks volumes about local needs and local interest and should not be glossed over. Angie and her staff are looking for those stories because they need to be more than heard; they need to be on the agenda. If Angie makes it to Congress, she has to know what her district needs, not what the administration wants her to know. This is the kind of thing that makes or breaks elections. You cannot underestimate the importance people put on being heard by the candidates, as well as their elected representatives. People will vote for the ones who hear, respond, and respect their concerns.
Go read Angie's web page. The section on Clean Campaigns, Clean Government is worth reading all by itself. This is who we should be. Who we must be.
And now, without further ado.......The Number One WP Episode:
An Open Letter To A Congressional Candidate for MN-2
July 17, 2017
Dear Angie Craig,
I cannot say I was surprised to hear you will take another run at MN-2's congressional seat. In a perfect world, you would be an ideal candidate: you're sharp, erudite, and, dare I say it? funny. You've been a corporate executive, a leader in your field, and active in social justice. These are the attributes we want in the person who represents us in Washington. But this is not a perfect world.
In the letter you sent, you wrote the following:
As Democrats, we must understand better why we have lost these past elections. As I talk with voters, already it has become clearer that we must talk more about how we are going to bring back jobs to the United States and create economic opportunity for more hard-working Americans. We have to be clearer about how we will fix healthcare and acknowledge the problems with out of control costs for many families. I grew up without healthcare. There is no one who knows better if you can’t afford insurance, healthcare doesn’t exist.
If this is how you are planning to run, then we will have 2 more years of that buffoon, Jason Lewis. Your statement is a recipe for defeat. Let me explain why.
You lost by a narrow margin because you could not convince enough moderate Republican voters that you were the better choice. Not DFL'ers....but IR voters. This seat was a bronze statue to John Kline's butt. You did nothing to reach out to the fence-sitting voters that would bring them over to the side that would actually address their looming problems. Instead, the DFL ran you like you were the Anti-Republican and that was a total turn-off to those on-the-fence voters.
If you are serious about winning the election, you need to form a non-partisan cadre to create non-political town-hall meetings to talk to the voters before you go on a listening tour. They need to talk about the different approaches to health care explaining BOTH the good and the bad on each side...and you know each side has both. To talk about the commercialization of the National Park System and how it impacts their lands. To talk about the EPA, FDA, and associated departments all of which have direct impacts on agriculture. Say what can work, and say what is less likely to work. Again, stress being fair, not black-or-white, liberal-or-conservative, right-or wrong. This is not a lecture; you need to learn much from those voters as much as they need to learn what is at stake. Educate...don't indoctrinate....voters.
And then, come into the room already knowing what they want.
You know exactly what I mean. The truth will set us all free.
The DFL has a golden opportunity to get real information out to the voters explaining what will happen next. Don't squander it with partisan poison.
Be fact based. No hyperbole. No dirt slinging, casting aspersions, denigrating, or anything that even hints of dirty tricks. Speakers can compare and contrast; present differences without politicizing. Tell the truth. I know that's a new concept for some.
Questions must be answered in a blunt factual manner. Even if two people show up and get their questions answered, that's a victory because they will tell their families, "Hey, I went to this town meeting and this is what I found out."
Whatever it takes to get the information out the door and into the houses.
Then you can go campaign all over the district to talk about differences in practical, fact-based terms. That's when you tell 'em what you think.
If you go after those IR people sitting on the fence in a way that does not mock, threaten, or otherwise belittle their political leanings, you will win. This is a Republican district and has been for many years, but the voters are not stupid. You need to change the mind of one voter at a time. Sling one single piece of mud, and it's over.
Basics, Angie, the basics. Go back to the basic, bottom-line, unexciting truth. Don't whip 'em into a frenzy...that's transitory and useless. Educate the rural voters on stuff that impacts them directly: water, land, productivity, and food chain.
Go back and rethink that web page; it's everything your potential new base will find condescending and a turn off. The cartoons/icons on the crowdpac issues page are insulting to the very people you need.
You already have the Democratic votes in this district; it's time to go after the Republicans in a way that comforts and assures them their voices and concerns are not simply being heard, but they are being acted upon on their behalf.
I really want you to win, Angie. Truly, I do. But you have to want to win the minds...and hearts....of those Republican voters who are beginning to understand what Jason Lewis means to the health and well-being of the district.
Run, Angie, run....but run with truth and honor. We, the People of MN-2 really need that right now.
Thanks for listening,
The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If your House of Representatives seat needs changing,
focus on the moderate Republicans.
Give them an honest chance to not be embarrassed.