On October 1st the Women’s Caucus and the Progressive Caucus held a joint fundraiser for Kim Weaver, who is running for congress in Iowa’s 4th district. The event was held at Rachel Garst’s house in Des Moines, IA. It was co-sponsored by Jim and Ellen Hubbell, who made a very generous donation to Kim’s campaign. The Women’s Caucus prepared an excellent spread of food and drink. Polk County resident and member of both caucus groups Rachel Lunsford was especially fond of the cheese. She said, “We had spicy cheese and it was nice.”
Around 20 people showed up to listen to Kim and network with each other. This particular event was part of a series called “Steve King Retirement Parties.” These events are happening all over the state. They can be anything from getting a few people together at a bar to “pass the hat” or a large scale fundraiser. Postcards are available to be signed and mailed to Steve King in order to wish him a happy retirement. This idea was the brain child of Page County Central Committee member Laura Tumak. Laura is very active in both the Women’s and the Progressive Caucuses. Both groups realize that it will take a statewide effort to defeat Steve King. Laura was asked why she decided to organize these parties. She responded, “Congressman Steve King has represented Iowans for many years and we look forward to his retirement. Kim Weaver would proudly stand for her district and for Iowans from river to river.”
The first part of the evening was just your basic cocktail hour. Everyone mingled and shared stories of the various campaigns we are working on. Several people there were very passionate supporters of Hillary Clinton and talked about their experiences knocking doors and phone banking. Several members of the Progressive Caucus spoke of their experiences volunteering for Kim Weaver and various down ballot candidates. Other talked about issue oriented campaigns they are working.
About half-way through the event, everyone gathered in the living room to listen to Kim speak. Kim spoke passionately about the importance of working to benefit all Iowans. Of course Steve King’s racism was brought up. Mr. King has recently “endorsed” right-wing fascists in Europe, and has been mired in controversy over the confederate flag on his desk. Kim offers an alternative to the “least effective congressman” in the US. Vice-chair of the Women’s Caucus Melanie Carlson was asked why people in the fourth district keep re-electing Steve King. She said, “ If you ask the vast majority of Iowans if they would vote for a racist the answer would be no. These aren’t the values I was raised with. Steve King relies on his district not paying too much attention to what he says/does and voting him in based on party affiliation. These retirement parties are about drawing attention to Steve King the person. It’s important Iowans look past party lines in November and make it clear Iowa isn’t racist.”
As I listened to Kim speak I felt myself becoming incredibly inspired. She gave me the type of feeling I get when I listen to Bernie Sanders. She has common sense solutions to many problems facing our society. Things that could gather bi-partisan support. Her idea of expanding programs to help college students by allowing them to volunteer 4 hours a week in their communities is excellent. She calls the plan i-GIVE: Generating Investment through Volunteer Engagement. Under her plan this would allow students to defer interest and loan payments. They could even have some of their loans forgiven.
She spoke about the rising cost of long-term care for seniors and shared an anecdote of an elderly woman who fell down the stairs carrying a laundry basket. Having young volunteers to help our seniors would help both parties and society in general. Nursing home care runs about $8000 to $11,000 a month. If we can keep people in their homes this benefits the taxpayers, the seniors, and the youth volunteers. Kim Weaver’s ability to break down complex issues and connect with her audience is second to none. I am proud to stand with Kim and call myself a Kim Weaver volunteer.
If you are interested in hosting a Steve King Retirement Party, contact the Weaver Campaign at 515-408-9314, or the IDP Women’s Caucus: https://www.facebook.com/groups/274…
Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party Progressive Caucus