At the start of the Congressional Easter break, I saw Tim Walz at the North Mankato Taylor library … actually, that’s not much of a surprise to see Tim Walz in the Mankato area … you’ll see him at the River Hills Mall with his son or at a community event with his daughter. Then it hit me on Saturday, as once again, I saw him in Mankato … Tim Walz is a Dad … he’s one of us … what they called “Everyman” but also a guy with a job … as an elected official.
It was that “every man” that got Tim noticed politically.
Remember this profile in the Wall Street Journal — circa October 30, 2006 :
If there is one House race that captures the struggle between Republican power in Congress and a grass-roots demand for change, it is here in Minnesota’s First District.
But most of all, given the House’s low standing in opinion polls and voter anxiety about America losing its way, Tim Walz sees his candidacy as a wake-up call for Congress and the nation. The heart of his campaign is just that: Everyman running for Congress.
“When you wake up Nov. 8, it can be a brand new world,” he told supporters last week in Owatonna. “It’s not vindictiveness. It’s not us saying all our Republican neighbors are wrong. It’s us saying this Congress is broken.”
Yeah, the MN-GOP likes to refer to Washington Walz, but in the District, it just seems that Congressman Walz is constantly canvassing the district … but in Mankato, there is Tim — the husband and Father.
(Disclaimer : Tim does not know me from Adam. I have never met Congressman Walz although I have complained to him on the issues via the telephone … nor have I ever given one dime to any political campaign. But he is easily recognizable … even though he appears much younger in person than in photographs … and always has a smile on his face.)
Tim Walz was a political novice — having held no elected office before seeking a seat in Congress … he was a high school teacher who saw that the country, and the district, needed a change.
There is similarity between Gil Gutknecht and John Kline … both Republican long-term incumbents and both powerful members of House Committees with Chairman Kline possessing the gavel of the Education and Workforce Committee … and both reliable party soldiers who respond to Party Managers instructions.
Let’s look at one issue — student loans, then and now. As part of The Deficit Reduction Act of 2006 which both voted for … was an increase in the rate on student loans taken out by parents, known as PLUS loans. It had been scheduled to rise to 7.9 percent from the current 6.1 percent on July 1; instead, it was increased to 8.5 percent as of that date. Also, the interest rate on federal Stafford loans, taken out by students, increased to 6.8 percent from 5.3 percent.
Stafford loans were reduced down to 3.4% during President Obama’s first term, but now, they are scheduled to return to the 6.8% rate on July 1st. While Senate Democrats voted in their budget resolution to retain the 3.4% rate, Chairman Kline voted for the Republican budget which favors reducing the role of the Federal Government in student loans.
Although the 2014 election is a long way off, already challengers for John Kline are speaking up.
Reading the story in the Sun newspaper (highlights below), I wondered if there will be a future Wall Street Journal article calling Sona Mehring “every woman” ?
“We need to bring change to the culture in Washington,” Sona Mehring said. “We need to strengthen the middle class through innovation. As a business leader, that comes natural to me.”
In the year leading up to the election, Mehring said she plans to reach out to constituents in the district where she has lived for 30 years.
“I feel that I can relate to them more than a career politician,” Mehring said referring to Kline’s tenure.
“Kline is part of the stagnation in Washington,” she said. “His record is more conservative than (Michele) Bachmann.”
Mehring, who is the mother of three adult sons, stepped down as CEO of CaringBridge, which she founded 16 years ago, after a successful consulting career.
CaringBridge Board chairwoman Janice Aune said she admires Mehring’s ability to found and run a successful organization.
“She has a unique skill set,” Aune said. “She’s built a very fine organization.”
Aune said she is sad to see Mehring leave but is confident CaringBridge can stay strong.
Sona has already started reaching out … visiting DFL district groups … and sent an email expressing how supportive people have been to her announcement.
I can’t wait to get elected to Congress and start leading the way through the partisan gridlock. And I know the families in our communities can’t wait for the gridlock to end so they can get the action they need from Washington.
Yesterday, my mom would have turned 80. I’ve thought of her a lot lately. She was someone who was always leader – within the family, within her profession as a nurse, and within her community. She was a problem solver and always believed there was a way to move forward. I plan on carrying those traits to Congress.
Yep, Mother, daughter, business leader … a political novice that is focused on bipartisan solution to all of our disagreements … that’s someone who can appeal to independent voters just as Tim Walz does.