The 2008 Idaho Senate race is in the national news this week. But it's been on my mind since April 11. That was the day I announced my candidacy for the seat now held by Larry Craig. Ever since then, I've been running for the Senate, but I've been working for it, too. Let me explain.
I first ran against Larry Craig (then a one-term incumbent) for the House of Representatives in 1982. I was 35 at the time. I'd started my public service career in 1969 as a military intelligence officer in the U.S. Army and then working with the great Senator Frank Church. He was my mentor, my role model and my inspiration to enter politics.
In the 1982 race for the U.S. House, I worked 22 jobs over an eight-month period, doing everything from milking cows to building logging roads. I had very little name recognition and no help from national party sources, but I still came very close to winning. In 1990 I was victorious when Craig moved on to the Senate.
Now I'm running again, this time for the U.S. Senate. I'm working again, too. One June morning, I showed up at 6 a.m. to work a shift hauling garbage in Orofino, Idaho. A week later, I shadowed a Certified Nursing Assistant in a nursing home and rehabilitation center in Pocatello. The week after that, I pulled a shift in a cheese factory in Twin Falls. And so on...I've packed cargo parachutes for smokejumpers fighting forest fires; I've worked on a farm; I've accompanied parole officers on their rounds; and I've hawked peanuts at a minor-league baseball game. (You can read about all of these at my website.)
It's definitely been an interesting summer, although with Labor Day here, I feel I've just begun. I am committed to keep working these next 14 months so that when I go to the U.S. Senate, I will have a real understanding of the tremendous pressures people face to raise their families, pay for housing, health care and education, plan for retirement and keep up with the rising cost of living. I am committed to addressing these issues. I want to give working families a voice that they haven't had for a long time. I also know that until Congress authorizes a responsible withdrawal from Iraq, we won't have the energy or the will to get much anything else done.
I have another job that will last from now until Election Day -- and that's to tell everyone that the conventional wisdom about Idaho is wrong. Yes, the ultra-conservatives have been dominant here for more than a decade. But it wasn't that long ago -- in the early 1990s, in fact -- that Idaho elected Democrats on a regular basis. I was one of them. And although Idaho narrowly missed sending another Democrat to Congress last year, the state's voters did elect six new Democratic state legislators (including one in Idaho Falls, which had not elected a Democrat for decades) and came very close in three state senate races. The pendulum is swinging here, too, like in Montana and Colorado.
I entered this race not knowing who my Republican opponent would be. I still don't know. But I don't care. I wake up every day believing in myself and working hard -- because I know now that's what families across Idaho and across our nation do, day after day. People want integrity and accountability. People want a new direction. Most of all, people want results. I will honor them by running a campaign that's light on partisan rancor and heavy on hard work. I invite your comments and your support.
Have a great Labor Day. Let's make political history together.