Observations of John Norris' campaign kickoff

First-person accounts of political events are welcome at Bleeding Heartland. The Norris campaign is online here. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Last weekend I was able to attend John Norris’ gubernatorial campaign kickoff at Living History Farms in Urbandale. As someone who is relatively new to Iowa politics, I was pleasantly surprised to see about 200 people out for this campaign potluck event.

As a lifelong Democrat, Norris certainly impressed me with his campaign speech, and spoke about many issues that I, and many other Democrats, are passionate about.

Norris talked about his experience with Iowa Democratic politics, such as running Jesse Jackson’s Iowa Caucus campaign in 1988, marching with Cesar Chavez, serving as chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, and being chief of staff for former Governor Tom Vilsack. [note from desmoinesdem: Norris discussed his political career in more detail with Bleeding Heartland earlier this year. The text of the speech he delivered in Red Oak on July 8 is here.]

It was also refreshing to see Norris put emphasis on making our state government one that works for all people, even going so far as calling his campaign “Norris for the People.” I volunteered on Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, and was a precinct captain for him in Decorah, and I think this element of his message will speak to many supporters of Sanders as well as many other Democrats and independents who are upset with the status quo of government, and want to see more power taken away from special interest groups and returned to the people.

Norris spoke about clean water, saying that clean water is a “birthright” for Iowans. This is a huge issue for a large part of the state, especially up in Winneshiek County, where I currently live, and where things like frac sand mining and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) threaten clean water. On a personal level, this is also important to me because in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin, which I grew up on the border of, the water is so contaminated from CAFOs and other sources that many people cannot drink their well water.

But most important to me was his emphasis on reconnecting urban and rural Iowa. Many rural Iowans feel that they are being ignored by legislators in Des Moines and Washington D.C., and this has particularly hurt Democrats in recent elections. I serve as President of the Luther College Democrats and on the Winneshiek County Democrats Central Committee, so I interact with people of urban backgrounds and people of rural backgrounds on a regular basis, and I do see a disconnect between them. The only way to beat Governor Kim Reynolds is by reconnecting urban and rural Iowa, and it was heartening to see Norris actively trying to do just that.

While I have not decided yet who I am supporting, in my observations, I think that John Norris is a formidable candidate who has a wealth of experience. If he is able to get his name and message out there, I think he stands a good chance of being a strong contender for the Democratic nomination.

Top image: John Norris at Living History Farms, July 9. Photo by Michael Libbie, used with permission.

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