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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

Editorial....Register-Mail:
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