Saturday, June 05, 2010

Endorsement: Roxanne Conlin

The Deeth Blog Endorsement: Roxanne Conlin

By now folks have figured out who I like in the Senate race. But I want to take an extra step and call it an endorsement. I've voted for Roxanne Conlin to be our Democratic candidate for US Senate. Readers, I ask you to join me.

I've survived three Chuck Grassley election cycles as an Iowan. I personally knew and liked all three of the challengers years before they ran. Jean Lloyd-Jones, Dave Osterberg and Art Small all made noble efforts.

Bob Krause and Tom Fiegen, with their low name ID and three digit bank accounts, offered us that kind of a race again. I've known Tom Fiegen nearly 10 years, and as this cycle started I really liked him. I welcomed him to the Johnson County Democrats when redistricting brought him into our county (and not everyone was so welcoming to an anti-choice Democrat who'd beaten a pro-choice Republican). I even door-knocked side by side with him. There are places for someone like Tom who was able to win a deep red district (Fiegen's state rep, Jeff Kaufmann, still has no opponent). But I couldn't see the US Senate as one of those places.

I understand some of Fiegen and Krause's frustration. They step up, then get stepped on. But while Krause has handled it with some grace, Fiegen has become embittered, lashing out in ways that can only hurt Democrats in the fall. His actions have saddened and disappointed me.

Jean Lloyd-Jones, Dave Osterberg and Art Small all said and did the right things and took on a difficult effort against all odds. I was proud to vote for all three, they held their heads high... and they all got clobbered 70-30.

I don't want that again. I want to win. Despite some nuances of emphasis, the three contenders aren't too far apart on issues save for Fiegen's anti-choice record. The decisive issue is which candidate can beat Chuck Grassley, and only Roxanne Conlin can.

I didn't know Roxanne well before this cycle. I'd only met her briefly at caucus-season events. I'd heard the tales of `82, of course, but that was long before I became an Iowan. I knew a little of the barrier-breaking nature of her early career. (Gender alone is not enough for this choice, but it would be really, really nice to no longer be mentioned in the same breath as Mississippi as one of the two states to never elect a woman to high office.)

So I knew Roxanne Conlin had already broken more than her share of glass ceilings. But before this campaign had no idea of how far she'd climbed or how self-made she is. (Conlin now says she downplayed her childhood poverty in her governor campaign in deference to her then-living parents).

Yes, she's been well rewarded financially, and been attacked by opponents for a rags to riches success that's supposed to be one version of the American dream. Yet much of that money has been given to causes and candidates up and down the ballot and on and off the radar. $60 million from the Microsoft antitrust suit went to Iowa's schools. (And as a Linux geek I have to adore anyone who sues Bill Gates and wins.) Fairly or not, Roxanne's success has given her access to resources the other two candidates don't have.

But that's not why I'm supporting Conlin. That just makes her the best candidate. I've gotten to know someone who is smart enough and hard working and energetic enough to be the best senator. She's taken on literally armies of opposing attorneys representing the richest corporations in the world. "Microsoft had 200 lawyers," she says, pausing, then adding with a look of triumph: "not enough." She is ready to take the fight for the regular folks to the next level: DC. Roxanne Conlin has an air of "nothing can stop me" about her and that's the attitude we need in a Senate crippled by do-nothing minority intransigence.

Iowans need a senator who will work alongside Tom Harkin, not cancel him out. We need Roxanne Conlin. Please join me in supporting her.

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