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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.

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