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The Great Christina Bohannan Road Trip
It's a marathon, not a sprint
Photo courtesy Marion County Democratic party
Christina Bohannan of Iowa City, Democratic candidate for Iowa’s First District Congressional seat, was in Pella this past Wednesday, in the heart of one of the most conservative towns in Iowa. There were about 20 people there, a decent crowd for a Wednesday night meeting that started at the gawdawful time of 7:30 p.m (I get up at 3:00 a.m. for work). One of the most interesting parts was seeing a couple of my friends who were former Republicans in the audience. One of them is a former elected official. Their Republican Party has left them.
Bohannan laid the groundwork for her successful visit earlier this summer by engaging in a way that should be a model for other campaigns. Most candidates sprint through town on a tight schedule, thinking the number of towns visited per day is more important than the quality of the interactions. Instead, Bohannan came and hung out a while. Talked to people, hobnobbed, rubbed elbows, and listened.
I even saw her tip back a pint at Peace Tree Brewing in Knoxville and share a few laughs.
With the help of Marion County Democrats, Mahaska County Democrats, Indivisible Warren County, Jasper County Democrats, Bohannan’s campaign, and possibly others, Bohannan went on a “listening tour” of Jasper, Marion, Warren, and Mahaska counties in late June. Many candidates go on “listening tours,” but most are more accurately described as “lecturing tours” because candidates are tightly scheduled, give their stump speech, answer one or two questions, and sprint to the next destination. Not Bohannan. She took her time, made connections, and learned.
Many think a law professor from the University of Iowa won’t resonate with rural people. That’s nonsense, partly because Bohannan grew up poor in a trailer in a rural small town in Florida, and the ups and downs of her early family life sound familiar. She’s one of us.
Bohannan visited Newton, but I didn’t catch up with her until she was in Prairie City, as seen above. Only seven people came to hear her speak in Prairie City, but they were full of ideas. She listened as much as she talked, and the local county chair, the man she is looking at in the photo above, laid out strategies about getting out the vote, who were the people who could help, and what needed to be done before election day.
Bohannan’s stump speech is simple and powerful. She first presents her background, says what she and other Democrats have done and will do for America, and hammers her opponent, Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks, on her voting record. Miller-Meeks voted against the Biden infrastructure bill, parts of which she often takes credit for, voted against allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, and against burn pit legislation that will help our Veterans receive the care they deserve. Here is Miller-Meeks's presentation justifying her no vote. Miller-Meeks also voted against the “CHIPS ACT,” which would return semiconductor manufacturing to the states. The list of reasons Bohannan offers to vote for her and not Miller-Meeks is long and growing.
At the VFW in Knoxville, when Bohannan said that Miller-Meeks voted against the burn pit legislation, Michael Braman (in the photo above), a combat veteran who was already familiar with Miller-Meeks’ vote, engaged Bohannan on the topic, expressed his frustration with Miller-Meeks, and thanked Bohannan for her support of the legislation and veterans.
Later, when the bill stalled in the Senate, Braman told me that Republicans who voted against the legislation “spit in the face of our Veterans.”
Bohannan also visited Weiler Manufacturing and Peace Tree Brewing in Knoxville.
Here is Bohannan in Indianola, in front of a crowd of about 60. As far as I know, Bohannan went to Newton, Prairie City, Pleasantville, Knoxville, Oskaloosa, and Indianola, but I have a leaky brain, so don’t bet the farm on my recollection.
In Indianola, Bohannan said if she is elected to congress, she will support anti-inflation measures that her opponent has voted against, including holding oil and gas companies accountable, prescription drug prices, and baby formula. Here is a quote:
“She even voted against giving our veterans healthcare for rare blood disorders and cancer they got after being exposed to toxic burn pits in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Why? Because she said it was too much spending, wasteful spending. I think if we can send hundreds of billions of dollars sending our troops into harm’s way around the world, we can spend a fraction of that to take care of them when they get home.”
Democratic candidate for Governor Deidre DeJear joined Bohannan in Indianola. I recently wrote, “Deidre DeJear is the Best Democratic Candidate for Governor in a Generation.”
In Indianola, DeJear said funding public education and providing opportunities for students to take future jobs is a big priority for her and Iowa. Here is a quote:
“Right now, we need to fill 91,000 jobs in the state. You go to the state’s website; you will see we need to fill 91,000 jobs in the state. Well, our students can be a part of that, but we must prepare them for that. Not only do we need to get the trades into school but we need to ensure that each and every one of our students throughout the state has access to the intelligence that is going to prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow. That means robotics, artificial intelligence, all of these things that are going to be the jobs of tomorrow, Iowa students should be best prepared to take on those jobs, and our education system should be preparing them to do them.”
One of the smartest things Bohannan did on her tour was to not only invite DeJear, Franken, and Norwood along but also to elevate candidates down the ballot.
Here is Bohannan at the original Smokey Row in Pleasantville.
Tyler Stewart, a Newton Middle School teacher running for Iowa Senate District 19, joined Bohannan at Smokey Row, and at later events, including the one in Pella this past Wednesday. Stewart wants to save our public schools and argues that Republicans are working to destroy them. Here is my interview with Tyler.
Senate Candidate Admiral Mike Franken also joined Bohannan in Pleasantville. The Admiral was at the top of his game and didn’t hold back in his criticism of Republicans, and I look forward to any debate he has with Senator Chuck Grassley. I’ve interviewed Grassley once a month for nearly 20 years, and if he’s lost a step, I rarely hear it in my interviews. Kudos to the Pleasantville Democrats; they are a great audience that elevates everyone.
Bohannan had a long morning session with a few farmers. She was joined by Franken and Secretary of Agriculture candidate John Norwood and welcomed down-the-ballot candidates for various events. In addition to Stewart, she welcomed Joe Kerner, a Veteran from Knoxville running for Iowa House District 21, and Lisa Fleishman, the co-owner of a construction business and a former Republican candidate for Iowa Senate District 11 from Carlisle. Lisa tells me the Republican Party left her when it elected Donald Trump.
I didn’t get any good photos of Joe or Lisa at events, but here they are before the Knoxville Nationals Parade earlier this month.
Bohannan’s time with the press was well spent. She received thorough coverage. Here she is in the Newton paper above.
My friend Ken Allsup had great coverage in the Oskaloosa News above.
Channing Rucks with The Oskaloosa Herald also had a nice piece.
And here is my interview.
I went to the Herald Office for my interview, and Bohannan sat for a couple of hours until Channing and I had everything we needed. That never happens.
Bohannan is returning for the always special Marion County Democrats Annual Picnic and Pie Auction next Sunday. Confirmed guests so far are:
Ross Wilburn, Iowa Democratic Party Chair
Eric Van Lancker, Candidate for Lieutenant Governor
Christina Bohannan, Candidate U.S. House
Lisa Fleishman, Candidate IA Senate District 11
Tyler Stewart, Candidate IA Senate District 19
Joe Kerner, Candidate House District 21
Iowa House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst
And possibly other dignitaries.
In the mysterious words of an ancient culture, “be there or be square.”
This is a fun event, and Democrats from surrounding counties come to offer their support at the lovely but polluted Lake Red Rock. Here is my interview with Chris Jones, Research Engineer with IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering at the University of Iowa, about that (bottom line--Jones tells me that Lake Red Rock has, at times, the most nitrates of any lake in North America--but that’s a story for another day).
Indefatigable, after the Marion County event this coming Sunday, Bohannan is then heading to Indianola again.
After the Pella event this past Wednesday, and after my friend Emily Hawk with the Oskaloosa Herald and I had all we needed for our interviews, and as we were moving to help fold and stack chairs in the hall, Bonannan said to me something like:
“Hey Bob, remember the discussion Michael and I had at the VFW in Knoxville about burn pit legislation?”
“Sure,” I replied.
Bohannan smiled as she said, “he wants a Bohannan sign for his yard!”
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Here we are, in alphabetical order.
Laura Belin: Iowa Politics with Laura Belin
Doug Burns: The Iowa Mercury
Art Cullen: Art Cullen’s Notebook
Julie Gammack: Julie Gammack’s Iowa Potluck
Beth Hoffman: In the Dirt
Dana James: New Black Iowa
Bob Leonard: Deep Midwest: Politics and Culture
Chuck Offenburger: Iowa Boy Chuck Offenburger
Mary Swander: Mary Swander’s Buggy Land
Iowa Writers Collaborative: Iowa Writers Collaborative