Saturday, July 28, 2012

745. Kentucky's Fourth Congressional District, St. Louis, New Hampshire, and Iowa

Clearly, there is a thread of wanderlust in my postings - wandering through county highways and rural backroads, and the occasional longer trip to Washington, DC at 606 miles in 9 hours and 23 minutes, or to Kentucky's annual summer political event, Fancy Farm, which at 237 miles sometimes seems to be even farther and takes longer.  But my seven faithful readers know that most of journeys are within the borders of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, my native state, my resides state (to use an adjective mostly found in reference to where one normally attends classes in the Jefferson County Public Schools system).

There have been a few times in my life that I've thought about leaving Kentucky but I've always found a reason (or excuse) to stay, putting off dreams, short-changing new opportunities at the expense of a comfortable surrounding not too far away from Mom's house.  That isn't, however, the advice I offer to my friends, especially my younger friends.  My advice to them has always been to go and see and do things elsewhere, outside your comfort zone, and perhaps outside the comfort zone of others.  Outside of reading about new and different places in a book as a good education, the better one is to go experience those things for yourself firsthand.

Back in the winter months, a dear friend of mine did just that, charting for himself a political path that has taken him to New England, South Carolina, and Nevada in a presidential campaign thought by some to be quixotic; and then later in Texas and, notably, Kentucky's Fourth Congressional District not working for a campaign but rather for one of those SuperPACs we've all come to know and hate.  He began this journey just shy of his 23rd birthday with my strong encouragement.  And while I have not been pleased with the political ramifications of his work - we don't agree on politics - I am impressed with his ambition and happy for his future that he has undertaken such wandering.  He has also learned that notoriety, something you gain by doing and being different and especially if your doing and being is successful as his has been, works both ways, something they don't teach you in college.  I've been on him for some time to finish college, but I am acutely aware that he is getting a great education through his current travels.

Another friend, 23 earlier this year, has for the summer only, as he will be commencing law school next month, taken a similar jaunt, this one to Saint Louis - specifically Webster Groves, 270 miles almost due west of Louisville along I-64.  He, too, is engaged in political work, in this case for the reelection of the 44th President of the United States, an effort I strongly support.  Missouri, where he is working, was hoping to have a more active role in the 2012 presidential sweepstakes, a role it has played in the past but is doing less so this time around.  Saint Louis was one of the cities in the running for this year's Democratic National Convention but lost out to Charlotte, North Carolina, a city located in one of the nine infamous swing states, where most if not all of the remaining 2012 campaign for president will decided.  Similarly, Washington University in Saint Louis, which has been a national debate site for two decades, finds itself debate-less in this cycle.  Still, the work my friend is engaged in is far bigger than the 2012 presidential election.  It will gain for him an insight into life and work and friends and opportunities in a new place, as well as memories for a lifetime.  And, there has to be some satisfaction in being able to say "I was a staffer in the president's re-election campaign."  Very few political types, at any level, will ever be able to utter those words.

Yet another friend who just turned 32, someone I've known about eight years, a native of Spencer County and graduate of the University of Kentucky, has left the warm and stormy weather here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606 for the cooler and more comfortable climes of New Hampshire.  Unlike the previous two in this essay, I'm not too clear for whom or what he is working in the state and I had no role in his plan.  New Hampshire is an interesting state politically, although like Missouri, getting less so.  Geographically, the western and southwestern parts of the state lean Democratic and the northern and southeastern parts Republican.  It looks to be a Red State this November if present polling is correct.  Governor Romney's candidacy is bolstered by that of Ovide Lamontagne, the Republican candidate for governor, who is far better known to the electorate than others (in any party) seeking the governor's office.  Maybe my friend is there to address that - I really do not know.  He has worked in presidential and other federal campaigns all across the country over the years.  What I do know is that he is on his way to another adventure.

Finally, another friend, in his early 40s, is packing up an old Jeep van, one he just bought three days ago, and is preparing a drive to Ames, Iowa.  Ames, Iowa and Washington, DC are nearly the exact same distance from Louisville, but the similarity ends there.  Ames is dead center in the state, located about 30 miles north of the capital at Des Moines.  It is a college town, home to Iowa State University.  And it tends to be a swing-city politically, but unlike all the other places above, swings, if at all, just slightly to the Democrats.  Ames is also, since the 2010 Congressional redistricting, now in Iowa's 4th Congressional District.  Iowa lost a district in that process and the "new 4th" while drastically changed is still largely a safe Republican district.  Running for re-election to the Congress from that district is the current 5th District Congressman Steve King.  Chances are, if you are one of my regular readers, Congressman King has at one time or another, and in all likelihood on several different occasions, offended you.  Pick a subject, any subject, and he has made offensive remarks on the matter.  My friend is going there to work for a SuperPAC, one which seeks to end Congressman King's congressional career.  My best wishes to them and my friend on that assignment.  One person they might find as a friend in this campaign, maybe, is a name, maybe, familiar to readers of the Courtier-Journal and Louisville Times, Michael Gartner.  Mr. Gartner served as the first post-Bingham years editor of the Once Great Newspaper, but has since returned to his home state in his retirement years.  There he serves on the Iowa Board of Regents overseeing most of the state's higher educational institutions, is part-owner of a baseball team - always a good sign, and also operates an alternative weekly called Cityview, a la LEO, in Des Moines.  My guess is they don't like Steve King either.

The whole point of this post is not only to keep you informed on some of the movements of certain friends, but also to encourage my readers (and, hopefully me, too) to reach out, take chances, do and see and experience what you can while you can when you can.  For these four friends, the what, while, and when is now.

Happy Trails. 


1 comment:

Curtis Morrison, Editor said...

Fascinating. I never knew Gartner was from Iowa or that he returned back to Iowa.
Thanks for the warm thoughts, Jeff.

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Personal

Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Single, male, bald, overweight, early 50s, seeking . . . Oh wait, that's goes on the other website. How about this - never married, liberal Democrat, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.