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Saturday, November 11, 2006

And That's the Way it Is

Unseasonable weather gave us a reason to pitch ourselves this week into the outdoor work that needed catching up. In two days, we painted four tall columns on the house, waterproofed the deck, cleaned the gutters, raked those 1.8 billion leaves of which I spoke, and moved all the summer stuff and plants out of the elements.

By yesterday, the elements were in full force! as they are everywhere--even in political campaigns and seasons.

First, let me say that for an experience akin to being threatened minute by minute with a shredder--I loved campaigning. I still love politics, and--for all its heartbreaks--the American political process as it is meant to be.

There are just no words, however, for the turn things can take. Those of you who are savvy about that process (and about how it can be abused) understand what has happened here. Those of you who may not be so politically active are in various stages of personal disappointment. Believe me, we ALL share that one.

A heartfelt thank you to each of the 90,000-plus people who honored me with your vote--and with it your confidence and your trust. For a couple of years now folks have said "Oh, I HOPE you get in." It is especially humbling when they are praying for it, for the nation and for you. It is gratifying when they say: "It's time for a change." And nothing short of thrilling to hear: "We NEED you in there!"

I wish there were some alternative way to repay the smaller but ever-growing circle of you who supported me in so many ways beyond that. If I said it to myself once, I said it a couple of hundred times: "I had better win this one, because I can't BELIEVE what this person is putting into this!"

On Election Night, I remarked that God has blessed me with getting to know and work daily with the men and women who have made up our campaign staff. A special singling out has to go to our regional coordinators and campaign volunteers. They carried the message and the fight far beyond what we could have done alone--all over this sprawling, gerrymandered 17th District.

One of the true rewards of this particular campaign was to make the friendship and see the commitment and work ethic of college Republicans--from Western Illinois University, from Knox College, from Blackhawk College, from Augustana College and from UI-Springfield. Do not fear for the future with the likes of young people like these!

Our future is determined by our past, and on this Veterans Day, I am proud to have had the privilege of shaking the hand of every veteran with whom I knowingly came in contact. You try it. Not once was I rebuffed: after all,have you ever rejected someone thanking you for putting your life on hold for them? For laying your life on the line? Let me tell you, if ALL of us did that, it wouldn't be too many handshakes for these men and women. It is because of them that we enjoy a free, fair election process. It is because of them that America goes on.

If I had one wish, it would be...... well, OK, if I had a SECOND wish, it would be that every American, every voter would somehow be involved with a campaign--running for office or helping someone else run. Each of us would quickly learn that you can't do it alone. And each of us would develop a deep appreciation for the many, many elected officials out there and what they go through just to SERVE, before ever stepping into the difficult job itself.

I don't know what's ahead--and that's a feeling and a state of being which I plain despise. Maybe, as I said tongue in cheek to a reporter, this was one very public way to put one's credentials and references out there in search of meaningful work. There's a lot of experience, know-how and energy here waiting to be used.

Whatever happens, I do know that I hope my life in some way continues to include politics. We have a unique, beautiful opportunity in these United States to determine our fate. God bless us every one--God bless the U.S.A.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Energy Independence
Zinga TV: Statement on Iraq

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Campaign Trail Story from the Dispatch

From the Dispatch

by Kurt Allemeier

MONMOUTH -- As Andrea Zinga walks down Monmouth's Main Street, a woman rushes out of a store to shake her hand.

She wants to meet her and tell Ms. Zinga the good news: "I've already voted for you."

Ms. Zinga, the Republican candidate for the 17th Congressional District seat, thanks her. She has been warmly received by small business owners during several stops in the downtown. She chats with a man working on a door, who also says he will vote for her.

Ms. Zinga has been on the campaign trail since 2004, when she lost to U.S. Rep. Lane Evans, and moves like it -- purposeful and determined, shaking hands and asking how she can help.

Rep. Evans, D-Rock Island, announced his retirement in March. She faces Democrat Phil Hare, a long-time staffer for the congressman, in Tuesday's election.

"I think people are looking at moving in a new direction," she says during a short break. "People have thanked me for running again.

"I believe people will change when they are ready to change," Ms. Zinga says. "I'm surprised how much I hear it is a time for a change. It is more powerful to hear it from people and not from the candidate."

This campaign has more energy than her 2004 run. She says people were "polite to enthusiastic" about her 2004 candidacy, and now are "enthusiastic to darn determined." She measures the campaign's energy level by the increased number of visitors to the campaign headquarters and more supportive letters to the editors in newspapers throughout the district.

The former television news anchor used a grassroots effort to win a tight primary race. She continues to utilize volunteers going door-to-door on her behalf.

After spending some time in Monmouth's business district, she heads to Galesburg to knock on doors, then to a fish fry in Canton. In Monmouth, she gets questions and input at each stop. One businessman asked about funding to widen U.S. 34. She says expanding the road would be helpful for farmers, manufacturing and Illinois' burgeoning ethanol industry.

"It is something I would work for because it is important for economic development," Ms. Zinga says.

When asked about the campaign at another stop, she replies "there is an undercurrent of excitement."

Another businessman tells her the tax cuts implemented by President George W. Bush have helped him and allowed him to re-invest in his business.

"I'm glad those tax cuts are working for you," Ms. Zinga says. She wants to make them permanent.

She is close to being late for another appointment and speeds off her in bright yellow campaign vehicle. She arrives close to on-time at the Northwestern Illinois Agricultural Research and Demonstration Center outside Monmouth. She jumps out ready to shake hands.

The day thus far has been a good mix for Ms. Zinga. "I feel very strongly about agriculture and small business," she says.

Standing next to bags of soybean seed, she talks briefly with supporters and gets a quick tour of the research farm, but first takes time to reflect on the campaign.

"What I'm not good at, is people tell me I'm too honest or not slick enough," she says. "I've learned to appreciate my strengths and feel more confident in them. The people around you will let you know what your weaknesses are."

Campaigning "is a cleansing experience. Everyone should try it once," she says.

She has put her heart into running for Congress, in trying to be a voice for the 17th District, and knows what is most important.

"I've learned since 2004," she says, "... that I would be good at this."

Friday, November 03, 2006

Unfinished Business

General APB: someone is missing!

Many weeks ago, I received a charming, heartfelt letter from a young Quad City area girl named Alexis Sutton. She asked me questions about myself, requested a picture, and said her father, Sgt. Sutton, had been on a tour of duty in Iraq.

Waiting for Alexis on my desk are a picture, answers to her questions and a thank-you note for making my day.

The trouble is: I do not know where to find her. If she sent an address, it has gone missing in the mountains of paper that cross a campaign desk.

Can anyone help me locate her? Alexis, THANK YOU!


And one more postscript: a heartfelt word of gratitude to the kind couple who lent me a small black folding umbrella the misty night of the Praise Festival with "Casting Crowns" in Davenport.

It has since been pressed into service several more times as the only umbrella in the campaign car when we found ourselves walking door-to-door in the pouring rain.

But I was never able to find these two Good Samaritans the night of the Festival to return their umbrella! Get in touch with us at Campaign Headquarters at the old Leclaire Hotel in Moline, and I'll gladly return your umbrella to you with many thanks...AZ

Endorsements--Between the LInes

I think the endorsements are all in now, and taken together they create an interesting picture.

The newspapers which endorsed me have gone to the heart of the problem in the 17th District and to the reasons I believe with many of you that we need new representation:

First, that we need someone who cares enough to VISIT this District. From Day 1
I have made this a grassroots campaign: a campaign "of the people." Almost daily for better than three years, I have come to you around the 17th: to meet you, visit with you, see what's on your mind, get a firsthand perspective on where you live (although growing up and spending the majority of my adult life in the 17th, I have been many of these places many times), assemble a Rolodex on the players in government and civic activities and sit down and talk with them, and develop a list of the needs that must be met if we are to catch up with a booming national economy.

In contrast, my opponent was selected in a closed, signed-ballot process. He challenged me to debates but we had to go to his campaign to get any. We wanted seven: they wanted two. We settled with three, and THOSE had to be held on university campuses. Afterwards, he canceled at least five candidate forums that were being held by such groups as the League of Women Voters, Chambers of Commerce, etc. His reason: "I agreed to three debates and that's it."

As a District Director, my opponent apparently managed the district offices of the congressman--hired, fired, inventory and the like. No other district director I have talked to in neighboring Congressional offices--no public official--no elected leader--no member of the public outside of Rock Island County--even vaguely remembered meeting Phil Hare.

This is not to say that Congressman Evans' office was not doing good constituent service in its district offices: it was. Nor that it was not doing work out around the District. It was. Pat Dawson, Joyce Bean, Jennie, Jerry Lack: these are names you hear mentioned often and usually with respect. Where was Phil? And where is he now? He talks a very good game, but talk, as we know, is cheap. More to the point, where's the ACTION?

Second point made in my endorsements--and it's related: my opponent was SElected, NOT Elected. That bothers many thinking people in the 17th, including members of my opponent's party. We have fought hard and many men and women have died to safeguard
our democracy--our American system of free and fair elections. Just how far can the party machine go in trampling these rights before we rise up in protest?

And third--I understand the District. I understand the issues. I will WORK to catch us up on our needs: jobs and economic development (WITH an economic development director: I cannot believe the petty war of words about whether we are hiring one or not--Congressional budgeting allows for an economic development director, but I do not think allows enough money for one fulltime--not without cutting constituent services or some other vital area); our sagging, languishing infrastructure; our farmers; our small businesses; our veterans.

Here's a case in point of talk vs. action: Phil pledges to continue to care for out veterans. We see him on TV talking to veterans. That's all good. Yet, why is Illinois almost dead last in veterans' services? Why do we have a Veterans Home in Quincy with empty beds and not enough staff? Why do veterans' facilities tell me they hope I am elected? Where's the ACTION?

This campaign has got me in a new habit: I shake the hand of every veteran I know about, thanking him or her for their service. This is the least we can do and I recommend it heartily! I have sat down to meet with and listen to Viet Nam Vets. I have attended Information Fairs for veterans, to learn what's going on and what still needs to be addressed. I have met with veterans affairs specialists from other congressional offices around us. I have visited veterans' facilities.

As I tell our vets, I had a father and three uncles on active duty in World War Two--I lost a very close friend to a land mine in Viet Nam--t I respect and appreciate what every veteran has done for us and I would put them first in line for honoring our nation's commitments to them. (One veteran, when I told him this, looked deep into my eyes, pressed my hand and said: "No, first the children. THEN the veterans." And I thought that embodied the spirit of the American veteran as well as anything I had ever heard, read or seen.)

To honor and take care of our veterans, we must be strong on defense--something we have never seen from our outgoing congressman. He was known as one of the most "anti-defense congressmen" in the NATION. I have sat in an editorial board at the Chicago Tribune and heard my opponent say he would have voted exactly as the congressman on all legislation (with one minor exception not involving veterans.)
If we cannot defend our fighting men and women in the field and on the front today--how do we even expect to HAVE veterans to assist? And by the way, that newspaper did not endorse in this race. My hat is off to them for incisive questioning.

In the newspapers that endorsed my opponent, keep one more thing in mind: there has never been any love lost by print journalists for broadcast journalists. For some reason, there is a long-standing and very real resentment of the supposed "glamour"--that we, by nature of the medium, are recognized in people's living rooms, while they labor in relative obscurity (some of our well-known beat reporters and columnists excepted) to defend a Free Press.

For years now, in speeches and in private, I have pointed out that television is the headlines: a newspaper provides more of those all-important details. I lament as much as anyone the fact that most Americans get their news from TV; and I am delighted that the Internet may be changing that. But, it seems to be impossible for some of these newspapers to conceive that someone who made a living reporting headlines (although in MANY cases--series, documentaries, live specials with studio audiences and the like-- a good deal more) can also think in detail.

As a famous (BROADCAST ;-) journalist, Linda Ellerbee said: "And so it goes." Let's not recite that and be done with it, though, because as Ira Blumenthal says: "More of the same gets you more of the same." Let's consider whether hard work and ACTION isn't at least as valuable as experience not used.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Local Retired Marine Colonel Supports Zinga

Zinga best choice for veterans
Thursday, November 2, 2006

Veterans of the 17th Congressional District have lost a friend in Congress. When we vote as veterans we must select the most logical and best person to serve our interests in Washington. We need a person of integrity and commitment to support funding and legislation that will assist our nation's active duty military personnel and our nation's veterans. That person is Andrea Zinga.
Andrea Zinga is focusing her campaign on "people before politics." She is the candidate who has promised to seek a seat on the Veterans Affairs committee. Andrea Zinga acknowledges that veterans' issues should be nonpartisan. Andrea Zinga understands that freedom is not free; her father and three uncles served during World War II. Andrea Zinga is the candidate who understands the historical mandate of a grateful nation: "to care for him who shall have borne the battle and his widow and his orphan."

The Veterans Administration will give attention to any inquiry received from a member of congress about a veteran. While we should assume and expect that a veteran would not get a decision to which they are not entitled due to political intervention, when a member of Congress inquires about the support, assistance and adjudicative decisions to be entered concerning a veteran, it would appear the agency works more diligently to provide assistance which the law demands. We can expect Andrea Zinga to cater to veterans, to support appropriate funding of the VA, to hold VA accountable in providing health and financial benefits to veterans, and to better serve veterans by broadening outreach to America's defenders and their dependants.

Since retiring as a circuit judge I have spent countless hours representing veterans in their pursuit of benefits from the Veterans Administration. Before writing this letter I have personally received assurances from Andrea Zinga. She has promised to keep veterans' assistance high on her list of priorities, we will have an open door to discuss veteran-friendly legislation and veterans will receive individual assistance and attention when requested.

Regardless of your past political affiliation, I strongly urge you to vote for Andrea Zinga on Nov. 7. Thank you. - Clarke Barnes, Colonel, USMC, retired, Geneseo

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Zinga TV........Say No to higher taxes and larger government

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

QUINCY Herald Whig Say Zinga's The Right Choice

Here is a very weighty endorsement for Andrea. Read and compare to the others.

Agenda, views and knowledge of the region make her the right choice for Congress

AFTER 24 years in Congress, U.S. Rep. Lane Evans is retiring and
voters will select someone new to represent West-Central Illinois.
Andrea Zinga's conservative philosophy and economic development
agenda match up well with the sprawling congressional district that
stretches through much of Western and Central Illinois. We commend
her to voters.

Zinga, the Republican nominee, has correctly observed that the 17th
District has not kept up with neighboring districts in federal
funding for needed projects. On other issues, Zinga identifies the need to create and retain jobs as the top priority in the district. She wants to see training
programs developed that provide workers with upgraded skills tailored
specifically to the current and future needs of this region.

She sees the need for cooperation between government officials and
business owners, and for a balanced approach in addressing the
interests of workers and employers. In that regard, she supports
eliminating the inheritance tax, which imposes a significant burden
on family farms and small businesses, while remaining open to an
increase in the federal minimum wage.

She is a strong proponent of expanding agricultural research and
advancing the production and use of alternative fuels, including
ethanol, biodiesel and wind power. She recognizes the importance of transportation infrastructure as an engine for economic growth. She supports the extension of Ill. 336 east from Macomb to Peoria and efforts to upgrade locks and dams on
the Upper Mississippi River. Zinga has traveled extensively throughout the 17th District and has come to know its needs and priorities well. It is essential that this large and diverse district be represented by someone with the energy
and interest to serve all segments of its population.

Zinga has shown that commitment. She has been a frequent visitor to
the Quincy area while her Democrat opponent, Phil Hare, has been
notably absent.

This is the second campaign in two years for Zinga, a former
broadcast journalist, and she has consistently expressed her view
that the role of government - and the tax burden it imposes -- should
be limited. Hare, who has been Evans' district director for 24 years, has said it
is the job of government, "to make average people's lives better . .
. I'm here to help." He would accomplish that by expanding the role
of government. For example, he supports universal health care and calls for the
repeal of trade agreements, showing no confidence in free markets. He
also would impose heavy taxes on oil companies in the wake of rising
gas prices.

Furthermore, interest group ratings show that Hare shares many of
Evans' views on social issues, differing sharply from those expressed
by Zinga. The National Rifle Association has given Zinga an "A"
rating, as it did in her last campaign. Hare receives an "F" - a
grade reserved for those considered a "true enemy of gun owners'

Zinga has been endorsed by the Illinois Federation for Right to Life
and has said she "will advocate for the rights of the unborn." Hare
has been endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Hare has said Evans, who received identical ratings from those
groups, will serve as his model for service as a congressman.
Zinga has a clear advantage on the issues, espousing a conservative
philosophy on fiscal and social matters that is more compatible with
17th District residents.

Zinga will be the best advocate for meeting the needs of this region,
and the most effective spokesman for its interests. Zinga is endorsed
for election Nov. 7.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Galesburg Register-Mail Article

Zinga, wearing a teal blazer, wool dress pants and flat, rubber-soled loafers made her way through a Coal Valley neighborhood with Marilyn Kieffer, the precinct committeewoman, on a Friday afternoon.

Before the two could decide if they should approach a house with a yard sign advertising a Democratic sheriff candidate, the home owner spotted her.

"I already voted for you, Andrea, and I'm a registered Democrat," said the man in a red flannel shirt, smoking a cigarette and drinking coffee out of a travel mug. "You got at least one vote."

She walked up his driveway and thanked him, but a few sentences into the conversation, a neighbor turned off his leaf blower and said, "She doesn't want to talk to you. She wants to talk to me because I'm going to vote for her."

Click here for the entire article.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Taking Our Mesasge To: You Tube

We have taken You Tube by storm and launched our grassroots message machine that will carry us to Victory on election day.

Click here to see the first two clips from the October 18th debate at Augustana College. The debate will not be rebroadcast and WVIK public radio had audio problems that prevented them from re-airing the debate on radio. So here and only here is where you will get the contrast between the two candidates.

Stay tuned we will be adding lots of clips thru election day.

The best thing is the easy way you can go to You Tube and forward these videos to you family and friends. Make sure you do that and be apart of sending Andrea to Congress on November 7th. Thanks for watching!!!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Can-do attitude to get job done.....

From the Sunday Dispatch......

Why send me to congress? Zinga: Can-do attitude to get job done
By Andrea Zinga

I know, love, and want to work for the 17th District. Macomb is my hometown; Galesburg is my husband's. Our parents started life together desperately poor, but believed the answer was to work hard and save a little every step of the way. Mine taught me to respect all life, to love ideas and new information -- to dream big, work hard, and never give up. My mother traced her roots to the Revolution -- my father, to Ellis Island. We were and are melting-pot Americans! And they worked hard to build a better life.

We as a nation and as a district still have that opportunity and that "can-do" attitude today -- and it beats nursing a policy of resentment about everything that goes wrong. That, more than anything else, is the fundamental difference between me and my opponent. For 23 years he has been quick to tell people who they should blame as jobs leached away from our district. Consolation of sorts, and tempting; but it didn't solve a thing -- didn't save or create a single job.

This district has fallen behind under Republican presidents and under Democratic presidents. It has fallen behind under Republican Congresses and under Democratic Congresses. The problem cannot be that we're in a depressed region. Just take a look across the river. Iowa's growth is evident. When my opponent started his job, Peoria was the national archetype of a failing rust belt city. Yet instead of playing the blame game, local, city, state and FEDERAL leaders worked to develop a plan -- to find solutions. And they did. Now Peoria is used by many city planners in how to overcome big economic problems.

We could not have saved all the manufacturing jobs we have lost, but we could have saved some of them -- and we could have spent more time working on the infrastructure improvements that make an area attractive to companies: good highways and bridges, expanded locks on the Mississippi, high-tech communications.

I differ dramatically on economic policy. I support cutting taxes, eliminating the death tax and supporting free, but fair trade policies. My opponent promises to raise taxes, keep the death tax, and has opposed every significant free trade agreement of the last 20 years. The reason I support the policies I do is pretty simple – they work. Every time a president has cut taxes in my lifetime it has resulted in an economic boom. Jobs appear, activity begins perking, the deficit goes down, and tax receipts to the government increase – because the economy's growing. My opponent talks about more taxes on big business. Sounds good if you don't think about it too hard. But businessmen and women use their profits to expand -- to create more jobs in the process of making more profits. Money paid in taxes can’t go to salaries.

My opponent loves to blame free trade agreements for job losses. The evidence says something different. First, we are running some of the lowest unemployment rates in our history right now. If NAFTA (signed by President Clinton) and CAFTA were part of a conspiracy to kill jobs, the conspiracy has utterly failed. Now take a look at the countries of Western Europe: those with the most heavily protectionist trade policies and the most confiscatory tax policies have the highest unemployment.

And so, that difference between my opponent and me is very stark. He wants to take the policies that have made the 17th fall behind economically and establish them nationally: I want to take the policies that have given us a booming national economy and establish them in the 17th District.

We differ on the war on terror. He believes we should adopt a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. I believe that would simply tell the terrorists when they can quit playing defense and start playing offense.

Iraq is a front in a larger war with a transnational group of jihadists who repeatedly say they want to dominate the world. If we could soothe them by withdrawing, 9-11 would have never happened in the first place. The fundamental question is: How do we persuade the terrorists they can't win, so they abandon their aggressive aims? We need allies in the Middle East -- perhaps not mirroring our exact form of government, but stable and friendly.

It's all very hard and I mourn every life, but our fighting men and women understand: stand strong now to save more sorrow later.

Finally -- I'm as sick of dirty politics as you are. I'd like to be a clean breeze blowing through the House.

Working together, we can get started and get busy. If you elect me your Congresswoman, you'll seldom hear me blaming someone else for a problem. I'll be too busy finding solutions. That’s how my parents raised me.

Zinga vs. Hare ... on the issues

Check out the latest piece ... see where Andrea and Hare compare on the issues.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

FEC Report Available Online

For those of you who have read that we had a software problem in getting our FEC filed we wanted you to have a direct link to our FEC report.

Download here.

View here.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Zinga Earns Peoria Journal Star Endorsement

From today's Peoria Journal Star

U.S. Congress, 17th District: Zinga

The 17th Congressional District may represent the most egregious bit of gerrymandering in all of America. Carved out to protect incumbent Democratic Congressman Lane Evans, it follows a tortured path from the Quad Cities, down the state's west edge along the Mississippi to the outskirts of St. Louis, and finally to Decatur. Along the way the map-makers took great pains to toss Republican voters Ray LaHood's way in the 18th, while sweeping up every Democrat they could find. If you want to know why voters have so little trust in government and stay home on Election Day, if you want to know why it's so difficult to find quality candidates to mount competitive races and give voters real choices, this district helps explain it.

Suffice it to say, Republican Andrea Zinga has her work cut out as she squares off against Evans' handpicked successor, Phil Hare. After 24 years in Washington, Evans is stepping down due to the debilitating effects of Parkinson's disease.

Zinga, 56, of Coal Valley, is a former TV journalist making her second run. Health care and jobs are her priorities. She'd close the "donut hole" in the Medicare drug benefit and means test for participation. She favors federally subsidized community health clinics so the uninsured can get preventive care. She wants investments in agriculture and alternative fuel programs to address the lagging economy in the district, which has lost 14,000 jobs since 1982. Rebuilding Galesburg's economy, crippled by the loss of jobs at Maytag and Butler, around its impressive rail infrastructure would get her attention.

On Iraq, Zinga says she's with her constituents who "deplore the war but believe we must finish the job." She says Uncle Sam should provide better equipment to soldiers with help from the Rock Island Arsenal. On the budget, she says the problem is not tax cuts, but "too much spending." Yet she can't identify one spending reduction she'd favor. If Democrats are the party of tax and spend, Republicans have become the party of borrow and spend. That has to change.

Hare, 57, was Evans' district director for the last 23 years. He is nothing if not earnest, sharing Evans' passion for veterans' issues. He wants a timetable for withdrawal in Iraq. He advocates universal health care. He'd roll back tax cuts for the wealthy. Economically, he favors expansion of lock-and-dam systems and investments in rail and coal technology. His only real disagreement with Evans is on welfare reform, saying that "paying people not to work, not to grow, makes no sense to me."

He describes himself as "pro-labor, pro-choice, pro-stem-cell research, pro-average working man and woman." He sees little limitation on the role of government in people's lives, saying Uncle Sam's job is "to make average people's lives better . . . I'm here to help."

We think a date certain for leaving Iraq is neither realistic nor productive, and do not view reliance on government to solve personal problems as healthy. Beyond that, those in the 17th who wish to cast a protest vote over their resentment at being manipulated, over allowing congressmen to pick their constituents rather than vice versa, should feel free to mark the box next to Andrea Zinga's name. She is preferred.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

How to feed a district starving for infrastructure dollars

Print publication date: October 1, 2006
The Dispatch newspaper

How to feed a district starving for infrastructure dollars
By Andrea Zinga

Transportation systems are the arteries of a healthy economy, but we have fallen far behind: it'll take years of sustained effort just to catch up.
I am still driving the same miserable stretch of 136 to Carthage that I was growing up in Macomb.
Compare Quincy, population 40,000, to the Quad-Cities, a metro area of 300,000. Serving the metro Quad-Cities, we have the colorful, often inaccessible Arsenal Bridge. Quincy has the four-lane Route 336 to Carthage and two new beautiful downtown bridges, both put together through local efforts and neighboring officials.
The Quad-Cities' OTHER historic old girl: the Interstate 74 bridge. Now, I know bridges take time. Still, a five-year federal transportation bill just rolled around again. Congressman Jim Nussle brought back $50 million in earmarks for studies and work on the I-74 bridge: Congressman Lane Evans, $4 million.
Though I support legislation that would disclose all earmarks, I don't support eliminating them. The next congressperson is going to need that ability to improve on the 18 cents we get back here on every federal tax dollar. (Illinois, on average, gets 71.)
Galesburg is one of the nation's major rail hubs, eclipsed only by Chicago. But railroads don't like going into and out of Chicago because of the bottlenecks.
In Galesburg, a couple of million dollars has finally been earmarked to study putting overpasses at West and East Main and North Seminary streets. It could make Galesburg the most attractive hub, to the railroads, in the nation.
They've expanded the hump yard. What about a container repair facility? What about Galesburg as warehousing and distribution center, bypassing Chicago and getting the goods to areas nearer to us, more quickly? What about the Quad-Cities becoming one as well, in rail or trucking?
Mercer County has not one foot of rail. As the mayor of Aledo puts it, "I have a river I can't get to."
We have studied interesting efforts by small, private rail lines to buy up unused track, abandoned years ago by the big players, and convert it to short-hauling between farms or elevators and the river.
I support Amtrak. It's vital to the 17th.
Many remember the heartbreak of losing the Avenue of the Saints to Iowa.
The National Association of Railroad Passengers cites existing studies for a Railroad of the Saints, servicing the Quad-Cities, Macomb, and Galesburg.
As for "The River"... the Senate signed off this summer on WRTA, the $10 billion restoration project for seven locks, several of them in the 17th District!
It was only in 2004 after our campaign had gone to Quincy and called not only for expansion of the locks but for halving the designated timetable, that my opponent's office abandoned its two decades of opposing the expansion of the locks and the jobs it would bring to this district.
There are the crying needs of Route 34 ... or Route 51 farther south.
We are about to explode with ethanol and coal gasifaction plants -- that's a LOT of trucks.
Nowhere I go outside Rock Island and Knox counties can anyone remember meeting Phil Hare. I begin to see why the congressman seemed not to always know what was happening in the 17th.
High tech infrastructure -- any company today considering relocating will ask: "Can we access high speed Internet? What about cell phone service?"
Fortunately there are federal grants specifically for small and rural communities, IF they were aware of them, and IF a lot of federal red tape and delay is cut.
We can dream too. Galesburg, served by a high-speed train to Chicago -- it's historic beauty preserved as a mecca for a mix of young working professionals and retirees.
Or, the Quad-Cities ... united by an elevated train -- maybe cable cars over the Mississippi -- and with a railway station again -- a direct train to downtown Chicago.
First though must come the hard work of repairing our sagging, essential infrastructure. I am poised to be able to work with the speaker and all neighboring congressmen. I believe strongly in teamwork and cooperation.
Federal government should be more fiscally responsible in order to have the money to repair our national interstate system, to expand our locks, and to once again invest in public works benefiting many.
Meantime, a hard-working U.S. representative with her finger on the pulse of the 17th can do all she can to bring earmarks home. Not pork: bacon! How about the long-sought Colona Road extension? The possibilities abound.
Spending on infrastructure always more than pays for itself. I'll be working on it from Day 1.
Andrea Zinga of Coal Valley is a former television journalist and the Republican candidate for Congress in the 17th District.

Flight Attendant Supports with Letter to the Editor

This letter appeared in the Saturday Sept 29th edition of the Dispatch newspaper.
Obviously, many of those who are calling Andrea Zinga a racist do not fly for a living! I have been a union flight attendant for over 17 years and I was flying on September 11, 2001, and lost many of my colleagues.
I watch everyday. Terrorist are very patient people. Our national security is the most important thing. We live in a free country and as a woman I have the right to vote. Those who support these terrorist groups do not look kindly to women rights. Andrea Zinga is a strong woman who will keep us safe.
Remember we are blessed to have many of these freedoms. Our armed forces cannot protect us in the air. We need to be vigilant and give the Transportation Safety Administration the tools to do its job. TSA should second screen anyone who has visited a country that aids and abets known terrorists. Passports should be looked at just like all the other countries I traveled to. This is commonplace everywhere but in the United States. We all should have passports in order to travel and they should be viewed. Is this discrimination? Safety should be our No. 1 priority. In my job it is! Andrea will protect the Quad-Cities Citizens. Our district has not been represented well for many years.
Remember we have a military base and arsenal right here in our own backyard. Please read and become more knowledgeable about all our candidates. Second screening should not be viewed as racism. I look at behavior and that does not have a color!

Janice Drain,

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

US Chamber Endorsement Tour Press Coverage

Zinga backs tax cuts to spur jobs
Wednesday, September 20, 2006

By Doug Wilson
Herald-Whig Senior Writer

Andrea Zinga says the federal government needs to reduce or keep taxes low to promote jobs and economic prosperity. During a news conference in Quincy this morning, Zinga accepted the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and outlined her vision of being pro-jobs and pro-business. Zinga is the Republican nominee for the 17th District House seat held by U.S. Rep. Lane Evans, D-Rock Island.

"Three presidents in my lifetime have cut taxes — Kennedy, Reagan, and of course, Bush," Zinga said. "And when they cut taxes ... that got the economy humming."
Three major legislative goals are supported by Zinga and the chamber. She wants to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, eliminate the inheritance tax, and put a cap on medical malpractice awards and other monetary judgments.

Melanie Bassett of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said Zinga is on the right side of several important issues for business. She said Zinga would support business if elected to Congress.

Glen Bemis of Sisbro Inc. hosted the news conference and said trucking firms such as his know how much damage can be done by bad legislation. Illinois lawmakers increased taxes and fees on truckers in 2003 and have driven many truckers out of the state.

"Under Rod Blagojevich, ... the trucking industry is one of the hardest hit in the state," Zinga said.
Zinga will face Democrat nominee Phil Hare in the November election.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs


If you have a "Zinga for Congress" sign in your garage, basement or shed--THE TIME HAS COME. Please post it in your yard!

Note to those who have been defacing and stealing our 4 x 8 signs in the Quad Cities: it's obviously an orchestrated effort.

The good people of the QC area don't condone that kind of thing from either party, in any election. So the net effect of your hard work and staying up nights to sneak around playing dirty has been this: an outpouring of interest from folks who want to take signs and give money for MORE signs. We have ordered more large signs and will soon have them in the ground.

Thank you--ALL--for your support.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006


I believe,as I always have, that the issues which TOUCH the residents of the 17th District are those which affect them most.

Nothing is more immediate to each one of us than staying safe and keeping the peace--for ourselves, our families, our nation.

That is, also, the primary purpose of government...
to "insure domestic tranquility"
to "provide for the common defense"
to "promote the general welfare..."
It's right there, in the short Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. (Seems the founders instinctively knew the rule that is STILL used in journalism: "tell em, tell em again, and tell em a 3rd time!") It's pretty darned clear what government is supposed to do.

This Monday September 11--the 5th anniversary of 9/11--we set out on a district-wide tour to distribute free yard signs--emblazoned with the flag and the words "America Stands United" on one side and "We Won't Forget" on the other.

These signs came to us from a National Guardsman and true patriot who purchased them, in boxes and without any definite purpose in mind, right after 9/11. He chose this 5th anniversary (5 YEARS WITHOUT A REPEAT ATTACK ON AMERICAN SOIL) to share them with us so we could share them with our fellow Americans around the 17th

(By the way, our campaign staff and field staff include a former National Guardsman, a Marine, and the proud papa of a recent Air Force boot camp graduate. We take this seriously!)

At each stop but one a group of interested citizens was there to greet our campaign, and the signs flew out the door. I used the occasion to talk in each of seven cities about national security and my priorities for assuring that we "secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity." (The Preamble again.)

Several of those stops were at municipal fire stations. One of those fire stations was in Springfield, where I was asked by the media about whether I would profile Mideastern men in airports.

Look, folks, it's pretty simple: when you are trying to avoid a murderous hijacking, you look closest at the triggers and signs that you know are most likely, statistically, to lead to that eventuality. It's tragic but true that after 20 years of warnings of war punctuated by sporadic outrages like the Cole bombing, the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut and the lst attempt on the World Trade Center in New York, we do have patterns.

When I say profiling doesn't bother me, I refer specifically to profiling in airports. And I do not refer to profiling by physical features or name, UNLESS that
is preceded by some pretty powerful triggers: a one-way ticket, for instance, in company with cash payment; a history of visits to terrorist havens or cells or camps, and so on. Maybe also in company with OTHER travelers who have ALSO bought one-way tickets with cash and a history of visits to terrorist havens etc.

The situation as it exists now in this country is this: if an airline begins to see that SEVERAL are scheduled to fly whose presence and particulars send up red flags, that airline has a choice. Intensively screen all the questionable would-be passengers, and face hefty fines from the federal Department of Transportation's Civil Liberties division for picking on one class of people; or go ahead and fly and hope for the best.

So what we have are government lawyers making it tough for the airlines to screen, say, a group of passengers. We erred in my prepared remarks when we thought it was no more than two--but the substance is the same. "Ah ah ah!" the lawyers warn. "You are in danger of discriminating based on ethnicity, and we can sue."

And sue they have. The American government sued American Airlines, on that very basis, to the tune of millions of dollars, in the case of 10 different passengers who, because of the conundrum this creates for the airlines, were finally just kept off the flight: not allowed to board. In the case of the 11th defendant, no lawsuit resulted. Because THAT guy American Airlines kept off the plane was Richard Reid. Of course we all know what he did with his shoe when he made it onto a subsequent flight.

(Worth noting that the warning profiles which have evolved do NOT depend on ethnicity. They tagged him and he was no way Middle Eastern.)

I don't know about you, but I am more interested in defending America than in coddling passengers. Check that--yes, I DO know. Most Americans, most airline passengers, ARE WILLING to put up with longer and more intensive security procedures in exchange for a flight that actually makes it to its destination in one piece. The American people understand that in order to preserve liberty, we must emphasize security. They also value their skins and their souls and want to keep them around as long as possible.

A reporter asked me if I would have, therefore, interned the Japanese in World War Two. That really doesn't merit a response. This is not about interning. It isn't about torture. It isn't about "racial profiling"--stopping someone driving down the street just because your skin is a particular color.

(If you really want to be technical, the Middle East is a place, not a race.)

What then IS this about? It's about not turning your flight to New York or London into a WMD.

And if, as a side benefit, we could use a little common sense and not screen babies, that might be nice.

However, if you have to search the babies, do it. They aren't going to mind, most like--and most Americans don't mind the INTENT either--although few of us have much patience for such things. We like sensible. And more importantly still, most Americans would not strap explosives on their kids or use them as human shields or decoys. It's our terrorist enemies, in a new kind of war, who do that.

I can of course not speak for them, but I'm willing to bet that Middle Eastern men with no ill intent on their minds don't object to efforts to keep them safe on a plane either. Perhaps I'm wrong--but then, plenty of men of middle Eastern descent ARE Americans, the majority of whom understand the importance of increasing security in order to safeguard liberty.

A sad fact, but true. We are in a War of Terror that could take decades in many places to stamp out, and which certainly redefines "war" as we have ever known it.

If I were honored enough to be elected your Representative in Congress, I would try to understand terrorists, but not for the purpose of coddling them. I would want to know all I could about them for one reason and one reason only: to keep you safe.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

District Tour Press Coverage

Zinga: I'll focus on terror fight

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

By Doug Wilson, Quincy Herald Whig

Andrea Zinga believes Americans are forgetting the lessons of Sept. 11, 2001.

During a news conference Monday at Quincy's Central Fire Station, Zinga, the Republican candidate for the 17th District congressional seat, pledged to support keeping the peace, keeping the United States strong and working toward energy independence.

"If I'm elected, I won't focus on understanding terrorists," Zinga said. "I'll focus on defending America."

Zinga said that since the U.S. was attacked by terrorists, she has been astonished to hear several politicians talk about withdrawing from the fight with al-Qaeda, the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan or other hot spots where Islamic fascists are trying to squelch freedom.

Zinga believes that many people want to coddle the enemy. Others fight against giving the government new powers that help track terrorists or prevent attacks. She does not want to see foolish decisions made in airport security, for example, to appear politically correct. Zinga said profiling at airports would make more sense than searching grandmothers and babies.

Zinga also highlighted the nation's dependence on foreign oil as part of her national security concerns. She said she wants to see ethanol, biodiesel and other alternative fuels make the nation energy independent within 10 years, adding that coal reserves in Illinois also need to be developed.

If elected, Zinga pledged to support drilling for oil on Alaska's North Slope and licensing of new refineries and other measures that would bring greater energy reserves into play.

Zinga said her opponent in the race for Congress, Democrat Phil Hare, has talked about bringing oil industry officials in for congressional hearings on their profits during the past year. She said it would be better to hold hearings on the threats represented by the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea.

Hare has countered with a suggestion that Zinga return a campaign contribution from ExxonMobil and promise not to accept any more money from oil companies.

Comments on Terrorism

Monday is the 5th anniversary of 9/11, and between
then and now, we’re distributing these to anyone in our area who wants one. The man who bought these did so right after 9-11, and has brought them to us now because he wanted to share them-- because a sign like this enables us ALL to share our beliefs, hopes and dreams for America.

We have 12-hundred of these and folks are taking them and putting them up. After this news conference we will be taking signs to Moline, East Moline, Rock Island and Milan.

Then we’re going around the District. We’re giving a lot of these signs to area fire departments, because what images come first to mind from that awful day but images of the men and women who were first responders.

As you can see, the sign says “We won’t forget.”

I think we have, though……I think we have.

Think back to that day—where you were—how you felt.

Think back to the state of the United States. We were at peace—weren’t fighting anybody! Exactly as some say we should be today.

The terrible problem is: we weren’t REALLY at peace. We only thought so. A large and destructive force was
at work: had been at work for at least 20 years.

You know, our country has mostly desired to be left alone. Expand our borders back when we were a growing nation, sure;but unlike England, we haven’t tried so much to colonize. We certainly haven’t tried to conquer the world.

But, and here’s a REAL important point: when others have tried to conquer the world including us, then the best and the bravest of us have shouldered arms and gone off around the world to assure that others-- and WE-- stay free.

It’s an important distinction: we just want to stay free. We don’t want to make war. We want to keep peace…

We’re not being allowed to do that. For the past 20 years, Islamic fascists have been signaling to us that they are ready to be Conquerors of the murdering kind. They’ve been telling us they’re at war with us, punctuating their claims with sporadic outrages: the Cole bombing, the bombing of the Marine
Barracks in Beirut, and the first try at bombing the World Trade Center—back in 1993. It’s a movement bent on dominating much of the world and subjugating its peoples.

Our country, as we prefer, went about our business these last 20 years, regarding them as a bunch of hotheads, hoping to let our criminal justice system deal with the fallout.

The result—September 11th.

For almost two decades we refused to take them seriously. We would not respond in kind to their provocations.

So they brought the war to us.

I listen in amazement as some who style themselves a
“peace movement”, argue that we should withdraw from this war.

It amazes me when people talk about Iraq, Iran, al Quaeda, Hezbollah and other terrorist havens as if they were separate and isolated entities.

The free world blundered into World War II because nobody would act to stop the rise of Hitler and Company when their intentions were obvious and could have been stopped at relatively little cost.

Then—Pearl Harbor and reality and we went in, and we knew we could not pick and choose whether we fought ONLY the Japanese, or the Germans, or the Italians. We knew that it was ONE EVIL fought on different fronts—and that it must be defeated entirely.

That’s the core of where we are today. We can’t withdraw from a war we didn’t make, but is being made on us. We can only change the front.

In World War ONE, a popular song was titled “Over There.” That’s where they kept World War One. That’s where the Greatest Generation kept World War Two. That’s where we have to keep this thing today—over there.
And, please God, we will arrive at this coming Monday as a 5-year mark of NO MORE ATTACKS HERE…

Now we can withdraw into ourselves completely, but the aggressors will not be going to leave us in peace.
I think in one form or another this could be with us for decades. In fact this struggle is likely to define the 21st century just as the struggle against totalitarian ideologies defined the 20th.

You deserve to know where your U.S. Representative stands on our vital security issues. So let me briefly list what my priorities will be.

I’ve talked a lot about my commitment to achieving energy independence within the next 10 years. That relates to our economy, of course; but it relates just as much to our national security. In today’s world, oil is gold; and the Mideast controls that black gold. We’re financing the terrorists through our dependence on foreign oil.

Half measures won’t solve the problem. I support expanding our Energy Policy. I support growing corn and beans and building plants and developing renewable fuels like ethanol and bio-diesel. I support developing liquefied coal technologies and mining and processing in the southern part of the 17th to create jobs AND new forms of energy. I support SAFE drilling offshore and in ANWR. I support alternative energy sources: hydrogen, wind, solar and nuclear power. I support whatever helps make SAND the most valuable export the Middle East has to offer.

We’ve seen a drop in gas prices lately, in part because summer’s winding down. It has MORE to do with a major new find in the U.S. Gulf that is expected to ultimately produce 400,000 barrels of oil a day. We need more finds like that, not fewer. We can’t let lower gas prices cause us to forget. And while my opponent blusters about hauling the big oil companies before Congress for hearings, I say let the oil companies, like any other business, re-invest their profits in making us more energy independent. Because they WILL, if we facilitate it. ANY good business re-invests profits—that’s how you get MORE profits.

Let’s hold those Congressional hearings instead on the scale of the threat being posed to us today by IRAN and by North Korea. Many believe a weak America in Iraq will be unable to stop Iran. And Iran is, also, a potentially life-and-death situation.

On matters of security, I want a bill in the House to close our borders. And let’s put an immediate halt to procedures that make life easier for the terrorists and harder for Americans. Profiling terrorist types at airport checkpoints doesn’t bother me: grandmothers and babies aren’t likely to blow up a plane. Our airline security personnel shouldn’t have to worry about facing discrimination suits for doing their job.

In times of war, enemy communications have always been intercepted and scrutinized. Our nation’s founders gave great autonomy in that area to the President and to Congress—not to the courts. The primary objective of the President and Congress is to protect American citizens, not to coddle the enemy. Our elegant, excellent system of checks and balances will strike the right balance between liberty and security. Right now, to protect liberty, we must emphasize security.

We have no aggressive ambitions. We attacked no one. We were attacked.

We said we would not forget. If you send me to Congress, I will not focus on understanding the terrorists. I will focus on defending America. Our job is to keep the front of this war they made in THEIR part of the world rather than ours, and to end either with their utter defeat or when they demonstrate in actions and words their willingness to live in peace.

“United we stand?” WE WILL NEVER FORGET.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Those Red Kettles

Labor Day weekend is a busy one for any dedicated politician--AND for the many people from all walks of life who help toward the goal of winning and serving.

We in the Zinga for Congress campaign have some wonderful ones!

More on the weekend a little later, but since it's on my mind I want to tell you about a holiday experience that you just don't have every day.

The Salvation Army in the Quad City area has been doing a stellar job lately of presenting a fall concert of praise, and last night (9/3/06) snagged the #1 Christian rock group in the nation, "Casting Crowns", to appear in Davenport's Leclaire Park before a crowd of 8 to 10 thousand.

As a long-time member of the Salvation Army's Advisory Board, my hat is off to ALL the fine staff there--exciting things are happening every day!--but especially to Captain David Luft, and to Development Director Kathryn Bohn. You saw Kathryn's bio detailed in The Dispatch lately--she was the classy lady holding the beautiful blue flowers. This woman thinks big, and as so often happens, gets BIG results!

Having dodged rain already yesterday in Bardolph, Macomb, Nauvoo, Burnside, and Colchester, I was thinking, last night backstage at the LeClaire Park bandshell, that we may have been under the only patch of blue sky in the Midwest! It was trying to rain as people queued up three blocks back from the entry gates, snaking down the length of the old Freight House. But, come on now--when thousands of God-fearing people gather to praise Him, amazing things happen. Faith is such a powerful thing that it didn't even rain when a band sang "Let the Rain Pour Down"!

My little role in all this grandeur was to testify on the subject of bell-ringing.
You know, "the red kettles." Chuck and I have been doing that as our Christmastime offering for some years now. And so let me tell you what I said:

The Salvation Army is one of the most recognized names in the world. After Katrina, when we went down to the Gulf Coast to report (for Channel 8) on what Quad Citians and Quincians were doing to help, we found the Salvation Army everywhere--in downtown New Orleans, for instance, where almost NO one else was allowed to be. They served up 25,000 meals a day during those early weeks.

But the Salvation Army also does tremendous good right here at home, and your dollars and cents dropped into those red kettles at the holidays make up more than a THIRD of the local Army's operating budget.

Now, it may not be the most tempting thing in the world to volunteer to stand in 20-below weather (rarely) and stay in one spot ringing a bell: "Ding-ding, ding-ding."

But you can be as anonymous--or as attention-getting--as you choose. You can pull your hood around your face and just stand there and ring. Or, conversely, you can sing, dance, show off your dog's tricks, play the xylophone: it all brings people to the kettles. (We discovered that people will pay you NOT to sing, ha!)

I drag my husband along, as we women often do. He was pulling back, at first. (Read on.) You can also go with friends, grandkids, your parrot, your church group, your club. The more the merrier!

And as you stand there, the most surprising thing happens. People approach with money for the kettle. They stop in their tracks on a busy day at the holidays or a busy night hustling children into a Christmas concert, and dig in the cold for a bill or some change. They smile. You smile. Pretty soon you are feeling GOOD.

And the BEST part is when a parent, grandparent or other adult encourages a CHILD to give. They come shyly up with a few pennies in their little fists. Sometimes they have to stand on tiptoe to reach the bucket, and sometimes it is a struggle for them to get the coins in the hole; but someone usually helps, and then they will smile or grin and run pell-mell or walk carefully and proudly back to the grownups in their life.

Eventually, whatever your mood or your problems when you arrived, it always happens: even if you're turning numb on the outside, you're ANYTHING BUT on the inside. That car heater feels mighty good when your shift is up, and you know what? SO DO YOU.

(And by the way: I've rung the bell in Florida too. It felt weird to be standing there in the sunshine in shorts manning the Red Kettle, but it led to the same results!)

THANK YOU to each of you who has led a child to the gift of giving!

THANK YOU to each of you who knows that gift: who knows that from small efforts, come mighty results for the benefit of many.

THANK YOU to the people of our generous nation.

THANK YOU to the Salvation Army for its wise and efficient use of those bills and coins.

10,000 people in LeClaire Park last night. If each one would ring a bell for the Salvation Army for ONE HOUR, that would be 10,000 hours; or 250 40-hour weeks; or put another way, FIVE YEARS worth of bell-ringing. Think what we could do with that!

Dark Day

And it was, literally, a dark day...one of those hanging-gray days we've been having a lot of lately. It was just one week ago and we were zipping through Monmouth in the schoolbus-yellow campaign car that you've been seeing for some months now.

Husband Chuck is a professional videographer and can detect smoke before a detector does, but in this case we all saw it--billows of smoke rolling from the Wells pet food factory over by the railroad tracks in the southeast part of town.

We happened to be among the very first on the scene after the emergency crews; and while Chuck rolled tape, assistant Kate Johnson and I watched in horror as the smoke got blacker and the column climbed higher, and distinctly heard explosions while studying a propane tank sitting dangerously near the warehouse.

Before very long, knots of people formed--hard-working people with anxious eyes, some of whom worked or had once worked or had wanted to work at the plant.

And very soon after that, a sweep began to move people back, one block at a time, out of the danger of that propane tank blowing or who knew what else happening.

I asked if I could help and a couple of women--apparently civilians, but working with admirable calm and authority-- suggested I evacuate houses. So I knocked on a few doors and gave a few families the word before it became obvious that many others were doing an effective job of getting people to safety.

From then on, it was just watch and see. By the end of the day, when Kate and I had returned to pick up Chuck, there was that startling stretch of bare sky where a building had been. No fatalities, praise God; although once again some brave firefighters had had to be treated for heat exhaustion. Stand and gaze at an inferno like that, and be once again grateful that there are men and women trained to head into it and tame it to keep us safe.

What made me feel sick as I watched was the thought that there went more jobs. We have lost so many in the 17th District: why should this happen here?

As it turned out, 75 people work at the plant; but then that wonderful American resolve kicked in. The company has vowed to continue, stronger than ever. And the employees have been working this past week to clean the place up.

It's as true in the workplace as it is in making laws and building up the District: pull together, put shoulder to the wheel, and good things happen: "Together, WE CAN."

Monday, August 28, 2006

Campaign Trail : Part 2

Continuing with the Zinga Team’s weekend just past:

I forgot to mention in the last blog that one of the parts of Friday night’s dinner in Decatur with the Speaker of the House that most pleased me was how our guests seemed to be having a great time just meeting and talking with each other! And how many parts of the 17th they hailed from.

Kate Johnson, personal assistant, and I spent Friday night in Adair with family and headed to Macomb early Saturday for a little business.

By 9:00 a.m. Saturday, we were in Plymouth where they were holding Old Settler’s Days. We wanted to meet up with Randy White, Hancock County coordinator, who was covering the Disney-themed parade in Plymouth for us complete with a full scale model of a stagecoach and horse, and with several young people walking for Zinga in the parade that morning.

Then Kate and I traveled on up the road to meet up with Kyle and Joe, two WIU students and friends of the campaign, in Laharpe for THEIR parade to celebrate Laharpe Days. It’s always a large and well-organized parade and this year was no different. We’re getting to be quite the assembly line on blowing up balloons!

From LaHarpe, we had to “fly” back up to Colona. There, shooters were at work on sporting clays to raise money for the Boy Scouts of America out at the Bi-State Sporting Club. EVERYone was dodging rain most of the day at each place we went; but with Yankee doggedness, we all managed to pull off just about all of it!

Tim Kelley, president of the Club, put me on an ATV and took me around for introductions. That was a high point of my day: the woods, the trails (mud means nothing from the seat of a four-wheeler) and the great guys I got to meet.

From Colona, it was on to New Boston for the annual fish fry. Great food, good times—and sun!

Let me say a special thank-you here to the most intrepid woman I know, Kathy Nelson, a staffer on the Zinga team. She had planned to cover New Boston—and arrived moments after Kate and I left. She took a look at the yellow balloons, heard we’d found time to get there, and might have turned around and gone back home. Instead, she spent another two hours with the good folks of New Boston and reports having a great time. Let me tell you—our staff love people!

Meanwhile, Kate and I were on to Quincy for their Germanfest. Now, anyone who knows Quincy knows that a Germanfest is de rigeur. I must have asked 50 Quincians there that night if they were of German heritage: every one was.

Meeting us in Quincy: Forest Ashby, a regional coordinator for Zinga for Congress—Mike Farha and family, Quincy alderman—and Dave Ripper, a Quincy businessman. Before long the yellow balloons were floating over the crowd and we were rather difficult to miss! I really enjoyed the chance to meet Quincians from all walks of life and various political leanings and just talk to them about our shared hopes for the 17th District and for the families living there—OUR families.

Meanwhile all day Saturday, husband Chuck McClurg and volunteer extraordinaire Renee Noard hung out in Knox County. (Renee’s actually from East Moline.) There, they got to enjoy dogs of all sizes and shapes at a morning fundraiser for shelter animals; browsed the Galesburg Women’s Club annual sale; spent time with bikers at a big ABATE event at the Knox County Fairgrounds; and dropped in on an ice cream social in Knoxville.

From there, Chuck (still in yellow campaign shirt) headed to Cordova for the World Series of drag racing. You’ll have to ask him about that! But be prepared for an hour’s enthusiastic story. Highlight: seeing our friend Arnie “The Farmer” Beswyck in his COMEBACK RUN. Arnie tells Chuck: “Andrea, and I: both “GITTIN’ ‘ER DONE”!

Meanwhile, aforementioned staff, 12 walkers, the John O’Meara Band, and several strings of Christmas lights took to the streets of Silvis for the Moonlight Parade. From the reports, they had a great time (as usual)!

Sunday—Kate, Chuck and I went to St. Andrew Church in Rock Falls, and attended their 5-times-a-year breakfast. Whoo, what great food! It is always good to mingle with those who put a high value on human life. In this race, I am the pro-life candidate.

From Rock Falls, it was Stronghurst, down in Henderson County, for their Old Tyme Days. The parade was rained out, but our fun focus was the little kids, who pedaled like mad to win prizes in the tractor pull; and then spent the better part of a half hour happily diving for silver dollars in a sandbox full of shelled corn. After that, it was a little watermelon (great!) and a little talk, and then down the road to

Ipava, Fulton County: There for an ice cream social in the park. There we met up with a LOT of good friends: Fulton County party chair Judy Dudek and her family-- tireless workers Vernon Thompson and Lee Ann Brammeier—great friends of this campaign George and Alcinda Craft, their daughter, son-in-law and grandson Malachi—and one of my mentors and idols, State Representative Rich Meyers. Go, Rich! Also the Village President of Ipava Greg Hollenback and his wife Carrie.

In the midst of all this... the huge fire that rocked Monmouth Sunday afternoon. We were eyewitnesses and went through the experience with some folks, and that’s my next blog. Stay tuned.

Trail Report : Aug 25, 26, 27

The Zinga Team was on the road en masse and in force this weekend.

Friday we hosted Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, at a dinner at Millikin University in Decatur. SO many details to something like that—but we had our saint and soldier, Pat Herath, Events Coordinator for the Zinga campaign—and working on the Decatur end, Macon County’s dynamic team of Jim Gresham and Bruce Pillsbury. A large heartfelt thank you to the folks at Millikin and to the many men and women who saw to all the little thing. We were honored to have as M.C., Brian Byers of WSOY. All in all, we hear that Washington was impressed!

The Speaker had been traveling and giving speeches for 10 days, and could have been forgiven for being tired and brief. Instead, he lingered after the photo shoot to unwind a little, and his speech at dinner ran well past his scheduled departure time. It was a speech many of us will remember. Having seen “Mr. Speaker” informally in his district, in Henry County (a county the 17th and 14th share)—and then formally at a reception he hosted for my campaign in D.C.—I have glimpsed two aspects of the man. This particular evening, he showed us the inside: his heart.

He began to reminisce about the day the planes hit the towers: talked of being in his office when someone said “Speaker, there is something very big going on. Please turn on your TV.” He told us that his office in the Capitol commands a beautiful view of Washington, but spoke especially fondly of the portico outside, which he thinks of as “America’s front porch.”

As he watched the planes on TV and gathered in the reports, he wondered if the Capitol might also be a target. His gaze turned to that “front porch”. Eventually, the smoke would begin to rise near the Pentagon, and members of Congress would gather on the Capitol Steps to spontaneously sing “God Bless America.” Representative Ray LaHood speaks often of that moment also. It touched the leaders of our country.

As for the Speaker, he said the time soon came when he found himself alone, in a helicopter, headed for an “undisclosed location.” (Remember that the Speaker of the House is 3rd in line for the U.S. Presidency.)

He was struck again by the beauty of Washington, out there in that helicopter; and by the eeriness of seeing the nation’s Capitol through a smokey haze, much as it must have looked when the British attacked it in 1814.

And what was on his mind? How soon the Congress could get back to work on the people’s business.

Then he saluted the MANY heroes in our country—those on the front lines on 9/11—those at work now, at home and abroad, to keep the American people safe. It is, after all, government’s #1 task.

After the dinner and seeing the Speaker off for his home in northern Illinois, we stopped by Project Success, an annual Decatur-wide area event to augment funds to help kids stay in school. The fundraiser was to provide money for after-school programs and tutoring. I do love to see a community helping itself, and having this much fun in the process!

Oh, and a P.S. When I rejoined my guests at dinner at Millikin after saying goodbye and thank you to the Speaker, I was astonished to see an Andover,IL friend of ours—a wonderful man but of VERY few words—standing at the podium! He was moved by the Speaker’s talk to lead us in singing “God Bless America”—which he did with great success. Quite a moment.
Thanks, Les!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Online Poll Puts Zinga On Top

Online poll hosted by the Macomb Journal has Andrea ahead in McDonough County.
We know these online polls aren't scientific but this poll is
set up where you cannot vote multiple times which at least makes it noteworthy.

Click here to vote.
Scroll a little and then go to the right side of the page and you will see the poll.

Click here to see the results

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Zinga Fundraiser Set With Hastert

Speaker of the House Denny Hastert will be hosting a fundraiser for Andrea in Decatur IL on Aug 25th.

If you are interested in attending call Campaign Headquarters. Limited tickets are still available. Private reception tickets and a picture with the Speaker are also available.

Call HQ at 309-797-9272 to reserve your seat.

Press Section Update

We have updated our Press section to include some recent press releases about positions on the issues that the voters need to know about.

Click here.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Fourth of July 2006

Independence Day, and 'Happy Birthday' America!

Always one of my favorite holidays. More than any other day of the year, it UNITES us, across these United States--in national pride and celebration.

I always remember waking up as a kid to the sound of a 21-gun salute that boomed in the morning across my hometown of Macomb without fail each year. Not coincidentally, we watched fireworks there this year. Always a spectacular display at Hanson Field.

Not far away, in the country near Adair, my mother and her 7 brothers and sisters used to mark Independence Day by seeing how many firecrackers they could set off, preferably close enough to another sibling to cause a good scare. And another generation back from that, my grandfather played fiddle in a family band, and I imagine there was always some town picnic or other simple community pursuit demanding their talents.

In a campaign, July 4th is also a daunting day! Because just about every community in the United States gets festive on the Fourth of July...so there are choices to be made.

A given every year is the huge, happy Amvets Parade in East Moline. I've been in this as far back as I can remember...first as a broadcast journalist, now as a candidate for Congress. 15,000 people attended this year, the news media reported--and I wouldn't be surprised! It's such a privilege to make that multi-mile walk and shake hands, wave, wish the country a Happy Birthday, admire the little ones, pass out candy, get a hug here and there, and enjoy the patriotism even with people who may not enjoy the same politics I do. We were privileged to be joined by musicians John O'Meara and Friends, floating along on a flatbed belting out familiar songs we could all sing and move to! Then too, this parade is an occasion to join with the many people who put on one of our signature yellow T-shirts and walk or drive or run or carry a dog or maneuver a bicycle with us along the route. And for that matter, it's a great opportunity to see and be seen with the other candidates for office whom I greatly admire and with whom we've shared many a parade now! and with the good party people who take an active interest in American politics and who help the rest of us do what we do.

Meanwhile, Hancock County co-coordinators Randy White and Jan Geissler represented the "Zinga for Congress" campaign in Carthage...complete with a full-scale replica of a stagecoach from the American frontier and plenty of signs and candy! Randy built that stagecoach himself...tells me he just got up one morning and thought that's what he'd better do. Jan is a familiar face with the Zinga for Congress campaign by now--a volunteer's volunteer, for sure! Sorry not to have been there personally, Carthage. We'll catch you down the road soon enough.

In Galva, Henry County Party chairman Dave Dobbels and vice-chair Steve Martin had assembled nine people to wear "Zinga" shirts and blow up balloons--red, white and blue in Galva (purple and yellow everywhere else). The kids love balloons--and there are a lot of kids out there in America, of ALL ages! I think they like them even more than candy. It's so fun to see the children as they line both sides of a parade route--their reaction to candy probably a great indicator of their personality in years to come. Some stand shyly by, hardly daring to believe that all that good stuff can come raining in a rainbow puddle at their feet. Others hold their bags wide open, full of energetic faith and optimism. Some come right up and petition--others stand by till you come to their sack, then look inside to be sure the precious cargo made it in, and then up at you with a sweet "thank you." If you're a parent, a salute to you for taking your kids to the parade, remembering the bags, and managing to keep things peaceful and equal!

Rounding off the day, the evening 4th of July parade in Canton. Chuck and I made that one too--you know, you sleep soundly when you've visited both sides of the street in not one but two parades that are long enough to let you know you've been there! New Fulton County party chairman Judy Dudek marshalled her forces and there was a significant presence in that parade too. Last year we stayed for Canton's fireworks--this year, as I told you earlier, we went to Macomb's.

There is a particular joy--and honor-- in being a candidate for elected office as America celebrates the birthday of the oldest continuing system of government in the WORLD. It is to experience our process of government from the inside out.

A picture-perfect day outside to observe ANOTHER happy birthday for the US of A. May God CONTINUE to bless America!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Veterans To Be Protected From Identity Theft

Veterans Affairs Department Offers Free, Post-Theft Credit Monitoring

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

WASHINGTON — The government said Wednesday it would provide free credit monitoring to millions of veterans whose personal information was stolen last month, acknowledging it was not close to catching the thieves.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson said the agency would seek to protect millions of vets and military troops against identity theft after names, Social Security numbers and birthdates were taken from a VA data analyst's home on May 3.

Those eligible for one year of credit monitoring will be any of the 17.5 million people who are known to have had their Social Security numbers compromised. The VA has said up to 26.5 million could be affected, although some of them appeared to be duplicate names.

"It's not going to be cheap," Nicholson said at a news briefing, adding that authorities were not any closer to finding the stolen data. "Free credit monitoring will help safeguard those who may be affected, and will provide them with the peace of mind they deserve."

He said those who have already received letters from VA saying they are at risk will receive additional information — probably in early August after the VA solicits bids from contractors — on how to sign up for the free monitoring.

The VA also will hire a company for data analysis to look for possible misuse of the personal information. There have been no reports so far of any identity theft stemming from the burglary in suburban Maryland.

Veterans groups and lawmakers from both parties have blasted the VA for the theft, which occurred after several years of warnings by auditors that information security was lax. The data analyst — who has since been dismissed — had taken the information home for three years without permission.

On Wednesday, veterans advocates praised the announcement as a good "first step."

"Any resources expended to address the VA data breach must not be taken from the VA's current budget but rather should be new funds, as veterans and military families must not be punished for the administration's failures," said Rep. Lane Evans, D-Ill., the top Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

Joe Davis, spokesman for Veterans of Foreign Wars, agreed. "We fully expect the Congress and the administration will provide the additional funding so that no VA program is negatively impacted," he said.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Notes from the Trail

Geneseo Illinois, Father's Day 2006:

Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Dennis Hastert was in Geneseo to do a little campaigning and to ride his fire truck in the big annual parade. The Speaker also held a reception at the park gazebo, talking with the long lines who
waited to welcome him to town, or to get a signature on his book or their visor, or to give him a piece of their mind. It was politics American-style served up Americana-fashion, right along with the cookies and lemonade.

What could possibly better represent our nation than when a high school wrestling coach becomes the third most powerful man in the entire United States? And when that man represents our neighboring district, the 14th, in Congress? When he wrestles now with national issues and world affairs; but then grabs the wife and heads to a festival that obviously fills him with delight? "Great crowd!" he enthused.

I was in on that Sunday-afternoon reception with the Speaker, and couldn't help reflecting on one other time I had walked and talked with him for a bit. That time, it was in Tampico and he had just attended a hometown memorial service for Ronald Reagan. Everyone walked the several blocks to Reagan's boyhood home in a light mist. Then, just as rain began to pour down in SHEETS, the Speaker stepped to the podium and bareheaded, not even indicating that he knew it was raining, delivered a ringing tribute to the great man from the Midwest. That was quintessentially American too.

Will see the Speaker again in Washington in a few days. I think he really wants us to win!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Outline For A National Energy Plan

Andrea Zinga, Republican candidate for U.S. Congress in the 17th district, speaks to the media Thursday afternoon at the Knox County Courthouse.

Zinga outlines energy plan
Candidate calls for new refineries, coal gasification

Friday, June 9, 2006

GALESBURG - While agreeing alternative fuels are important to the 17th Congressional District, Republican candidate Andrea Zinga said Thursday new refineries should be built in the U.S., plants should be built to convert coal into diesel fuel and drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge may be something she can support. Zinga, standing at a picnic table on the east side of the Knox County Courthouse, outlined short- and long-term solutions to the nation's energy problems. She said one short-term solution is to stop buying oil for the Strategic Oil Reserve.

"It would be wise to sell a portion of it while prices are high and buy it back when prices are low," Zinga said. The former TV news anchor said one set of "tough" national environmental regulations should be developed to replace the 16 regional rules now in place. Admitting that ethanol and wind power are important to this area, Zinga said "this is just nibbling on the edge of the problem."
Zinga said the last oil refinery built in the United States was during the Gerald Ford administration. "Refinery technology has improved so much," she said. "We can and should build refineries. We could also create some jobs."
She said those jobs would not be in this area, but pointed out new jobs, even in other areas of the nation, are important.

Coal gasification also was touched upon. "We have vast reserves of coal in this country," Zinga said. Coal mining is a source of jobs in the southern portions of the 17th District. As for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, "I would not drill in ANWR until I have all the information Congress has," Zinga said, but it is apparent she is leaning in that direction. Zinga said that out of 20 million acres of land in the wildlife refuge, drilling would take place on only 2,000 acres. She said that would produce about 1.5 million barrels of oil a day.

"That's what we import from Saudi Arabia," Zinga said as she stood in the sunshine in front of a handful of reporters... She said many people said the Alaskan Pipeline would not withstand earthquakes and would harm wildlife, such as caribou. Zinga said the pipeline has done fine and, based on what she now knows, she thinks the result would be much the same in the Arctic. She said she is tired of people saying what will not work.

"I get very tired of people having the 'we can'ts,'" she said. "We can do what we set out to do."

Although Zinga said it is probably not realistic to ever expect the U.S. will be 100 percent energy independent, she said coal gasification, ethanol, new refineries, etc., could lead to a day when "we're not at the mercy of the Mideast."

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Eliminate the 1898 phone tax.......

From The Hill newspaper. The Treasury Department has stopped collecting the tax but Congress must vote to eliminate it. I will vote to eliminate the phone tax when I am sent to Congress.

Lawmakers laud Treasury for abolishing phone tax

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and telecom companies exalted Thursday at the Treasury Department’s decision to abolish collection of the 3 percent excise tax on long-distance telephone calls, which a years-long lobbying campaign had dubbed the “Spanish-American War Tax” because of its creation to pay for the 19th-century conflict.

Treasury opted to eliminate the tax rather than continue tangling in court with multiple lawsuits by phone companies seeking permission to stop levying the tax. The regulatory relaxation comes as AT&T, Verizon and other telecom giants remain on the political defensive, with Congress prepared to hold hearings on their participation in the National Security Agency's controversial call-monitoring operations.

Taxpayers will be free to apply for a refund on up to three years of back long-distance taxes, including interest, starting with the 2006 tax cycle, Treasury Secretary John Snow said in a statement.
“The telephone-excise tax has outlasted two world wars, the Great Depression, and the start of two new centuries, but the federal government continued to needlessly tax basic telephone services,” House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), one of the tax’s most vocal congressional opponents, said in a statement.

Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) issued a similar response, underscoring the intensity of lobbying by fiscal conservative groups such as Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform to end the tax. “It is past time for the federal government to stop taxing the phone lines that link American taxpayers to this antiquated burden,” Hastert said.

“Customers should see a noticeable difference in their phone bills within the next few months,” said Herschel Abbott, BellSouth vice president of government affairs, in a statement. “We hope this decision is a harbinger of removal of other discriminatory taxes on communications customers.”

Despite the joint announcement yesterday by Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service, only congressional action can permanently end the tax. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) hailed the three-year refund but said he intends to pursue legislation in the near future to repeal the tax. GOP members of both the House and Senate already have introduced bills to that effect.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Veteran Alert !

The Washington Post reports today that.......

Every living veteran is at risk of identity theft after thieves stole an electronic data file this month containing the names, birthdates and Social Security numbers from the home of a Department of Veterans Affairs employee, VA Secretary R. James Nicholson said today.

The theft of the data, which the employee was not authorized to take home, represents one of the most sweeping government losses of sensitive personal information, experts said. The file did not contain medical records, Nicholson said...

The Veterans Affairs Department plans to send letters to all veteran notifying them that their personal information had been compromised, Nicholson said. The department also has established a Web site with a Q&A about the situation and a toll free number (1-800-333-4636) for veterans to call for information or to report anything suspicious.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Open House: Tommorow Night May 5th

Campaign Kick Off to the new Zinga for Congress Headquarters !!

Come join us at the historic Le Claire Hotel in downtown Moline tommorow night May 5th, 2006 from 6 pm to 8pm. We are located in the Northeast corner of the building. The address is 419 21st Street.

The Open House party will include live entertainment from a local dance troupe, refreshments, and a silent auction. There will be a free gift to the first 20 people that arrive.

We would also like your help in decorating the office, so if you have a picture of yourself in a political setting, that you can loan us, then bring it down and we will display it till November.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Republican Party turns attention to 17th District

More later on our three city press tour with Congressman Ray LaHood but here is how WHOI is reporting it...........

Republican Party turns attention to 17th District
By Josh Brogadir

Posted: Monday, April 03, 2006 at 11:18 PM

PEORIA -- The Republican Party is going after a long-time Democratic seat. Andrea Zinga wants to be the first woman and first Republican in years to represent Illinois's 17th District in Congress.
Congressman Ray LaHood (R-18th Dist.) donated $2000 to Zinga's campaign Monday and says more Republican money and support will follow. Last week, Democrat incumbent Lane Evans, who has Parkinson’s disease, announced he will not seek re-election because of health reasons.
Zinga and LaHood say that's one of the factors turning national Republican attention to the race.
“This campaign is going to be all about the issues and there are three in particular, jobs, jobs, and jobs, we want to get the 17th district back to work,” said Zinga.
It is yet to be determined who the Democrats will put on the November ballot. Evans has endorsed longtime district aide Phil Hare.

Friday, March 24, 2006

It's a Sign

About signs: we are gathering up those we know we placed.

If you are a chairman,coordinator, PCM or volunteer who was responsible for a group of signs, please see if you can either retrieve them or make arrangements for them to be saved.

Individuals: take that sign out of your yard when you're ready, and SAVE it!



It's Not All About the Candidate

A few more thoughts post-election:

A candidate seldom wins an election by him- or herself. It's just not possible. The effort is too large, complex and daunting.

First, there's family. We all know that when your husband and family are with you, it doesn't matter so much who's against you. I have the BEST of both. THANKS y'all.

As anyone who's campaigned can tell you, a campaign consumes your life and the lives of those around you. Special recognition is also due a dedicated group of staff and volunteers who threw their ALL for Zinga for Congress into the primary race. One lives outside the 17th and couldn't even vote for me! but was an asset in whatever capacity, whenever needed. One drove an hour each way to and from her job--one researched tirelessly--one walked in parades when it seemed an impossibility, and set the pace for the rest of us... In three other cases, the help came from seasoned experience; and brilliant strategy; and cheerful willingness to tackle the formidable challenges of a federal campaign. And almost all of it was done without money as the object. People like that are rare and wonderful--true friends.

From there, it moves on to other friends: county coordinators and county finance coordinators, the men and women who sponsored fundraisers and helped set up events, volunteers who showed up for expos and put out signs and did 101 other things that you never even IMAGINE when you first run for office.

A special thanks to the donors: IT DOES NOT HAPPEN WITHOUT YOU.

A special thanks to PCMs and party chairmen and officers: whether in private conversation or by public endorsement, you keep grassroots politics alive and well in America.

And finally, to my two opponents: you fought hard, you executed some good strategy, you talked about issues, you made it a competitive race that I think was energizing and representative of the best of American politics in action. I have always carried around a quotation I found somewhere and can't even attribute: "One key ingredient for success is a good, wide-awake, tireless competitor." A race like that one makes us all stronger and more knowledgeable, and is excellent preparation for the fight ahead. In this new general campaign, with 7 and 1/2 months to go, our feet are already on the ground and we are running hard.