Four hundred twenty miles driven and eleven tanks of gas exhausted stalking presidential candidates over the last two months. I know it isn’t technically stalking because the public is invited, but my Instagram feed is beginning to look like there should be a restraining order. Pictures of me with presidential hopefuls and tiny images of someone gesticulating wildly on a stage who seem farther away than they were because of my not-so-great camera phone. I have thought about bringing my big camera, with the 50x zoom, but for some reason, this would reinforce that stalking feeling.
Seven different events and seventeen candidates (list below), plus two presidential debates, and I am no further along in deciding who I want to throw my support behind for the primaries. I vote in Illinois, and typically, the primary race is over by the time it’s our turn, but maybe with 20 contenders, Illinois will become relevant. And even if we don’t, it’s important to me that I have a preference because, to be honest, I am excellent at having opinions.
Although I don’t have a final “pick,” I have learned three things about the Iowa process and made some initial decisions about the field.
Setting Out to Be a Stranger in a Strange Land
A Chicagoan at heart, a series of events, including falling for a local boy, led me to spending time "Iowa-adjacent," in Moline, Illinois. Moline is on the Mississippi River and part of the Quad Cities region. When I first started coming here in 2015, and when asked, "What's it like?" by friends in Chicago, I highlighted three points that stood out the most.
First, five cities make up the Quad Cities, well at least five, some might even say eight or nine. Apparently, they started as the "Tri-Cities," changed to Quad as the region grew, but "quint" never stuck. Second, split by the Mississippi River, residents move between Illinois and Iowa - sometimes many times a day - crossing the largest river in North America like it's no big deal. Being from Chicago, crossing the Mississippi meant a great adventure ahead, not, "We ran out of peanut better, so I am going to the Super Target." As a result, the little girl in me avoided Iowa to keep a sense of adventure alive. Finally, fall 2015 marked the beginning of primary season for the Iowa caucuses and although I was in Illinois, it's an Iowa media market. This proved to be incredibly painful because I don't travel with my Tivo and for the first time since 2004, I had to watch commercials - and political commercials at that! I started avoiding TV like I avoided Iowa.
I know how they feel. I’m also a Chicago Election Loser (CEL). I have a lot of friends who are CELs. If you read this on Wednesday, February 27, and think “Crap, she means me!” I say, “Welcome to the club.” I may be biased, but I think you are in good company.
I became a CEL on February 25, 2015, when I lost my aldermanic race. Due to some absentee ballot counting and a lawsuit, the race wasn’t called until much later, but since I was in 3rd place, I had the pleasure of losing on election night.
I ran against a Machine candidate (the daughter in a Chicago dynasty) and a teacher’s union-supported candidate. I was the nobody, nobody sent. I am a community organizer, with a degree in public affairs, twenty years’ experience in community development around the world, and I know five of the 45+ languages spoken in the ward. And yes, based on that statement, I obviously thought I was the best person for the job. You have to believe you are the best candidate… or you are a bad candidate.
After my loss, there were the “expected” responses, which the 95 new CELs will be hearing over and over in the next couple weeks.
Includes professional topics, as well as thoughts about politics. I also keep a blog on Medium that includes these, as well as more personal posts.