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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.