By Heather Ryan
This weekend, I volunteered to knock doors for Ray Stevens’ special election campaign in Iowa House District 22. If you’re not familiar with this race, here is the quick and dirty: Republican Representative Greg Forristall passed away on May 10, 2017 from an illness. A special election will be held on Tuesday, June 27th in this Republican stronghold. To give you an idea of how much of a stronghold this Pottawattamie County seat is, only ONE of the seven elections Foristall served as the representative was challenged by a Democrat. In fact, he was challenged more by Republicans than Democrats during the duration of his tenure.
In May, the Pottawattamie County Democrats nominated a newcomer, Ray Stevens, to Represent in the special election. UNFORTUNATELY, Ray apparently didn’t completely understand the importance of getting his paperwork in on time to ensure he was on the ballot. So, long story short, the Democratic candidate will NOT be featured on the ballot. Fortunately for Ray, a political junkie and prolific optimist named Steve insisted that a “Write In” campaign will allow the Democrats to at least fight for the seat without conceding complete defeat. Steve is a smart cookie who has taken on a monumental task with this seemingly insurmountable effort.
This is the point where I come in. Ray called me on Friday to follow-up with my inquiry to the Pottawattamie Democratic Party Chair regarding how I can help. He asked if I could come over (a short two hour jaunt) to help in the canvassing effort on Saturday. Since I personally just announced my own congressional campaign on Wednesday, traditional wisdom would insist that I spend my weekend filling the pages of my own website (shameless self promotional plug: www.RyanForIowa.com) and getting my lit together. But this is not a traditional time and we are not wading in the polluted Iowa waters of traditional politics. So I agreed to canvass on Saturday and camp on Sunday with the family while in beautiful western Iowa.
Apparently, I was the only person to agree to stand up and take a wild swing at this long shot. The only Democrats canvassing Saturday were me, Steve and Ray. We knocked out an entire town in heat that neared a scorching 100 degrees.
Here’s the thing, friends. This is an unprecedented time in Progressive/Democratic politics. The Republicans are in more disarray than you might imagine. Not only did the Republicans vote to place a candidate on the ballot, there is also a Libertarian AND the pissed off widow of the deceased Representative in this special election. THAT’S A THREE WAY SPLIT in the Republican party’s ticket! If ever there was an opportunity to return this district to Democratic control, it is RIGHT NOW.
Yup! The Democratic Party leadership dropped a few balls on ensuring that our candidate was – you know – on the ballot. But this is not the time to point fingers and place blame. Have you ever heard the saying, “When you point a finger, there are three pointing back at you”? That is absolutely true in this case. Now is not the time to point the finger in disapproval of what could have been. Now is the time to put on our big girl panties and move the frick on! NOW is the time to take advantage of their fractured party and our newly-found energy!
It’s an uphill battle – for sure. But it has always been an uphill battle in a district where Democrats have traditionally been afraid to run at all. So, I implore you, progressives of Iowa, throw caution to the wind. Take some time from your busy lives to canvass and/or phone bank for the ultra-new and super nice candidate, Ray Stevens. Now is the time to look forward, not back. Now is the time to learn from our mistakes, not point fingers. If we are to WELCOME new candidates and activists into the party, we must learn from this experience and realize that we MUST help those new souls by guiding them through their journey!
I am hosting a mom-van full of volunteers on Saturday, June 17th of willing optimists to travel from Des Moines to the Council Bluffs area for canvassing. We leave at 8:00 AM from my home on the East side and will return after we knock out a bunch of doors. I will provide gas and water and the most entertaining soundtrack and liberal conversation available on a Saturday in June. We have THREE seats left! Join Us! Be an optimist and a progressive and let’s create the upset of the year! If we can pull off a win in IA House District 22 – we will set the tone for 2018. JOIN US!
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