Dave Leshtz

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Last call: Remembering Tim Kraft

From left: State Representative Dick Myers, Chip Carter, and Tim Kraft in December 2003. Photo by Dave Leshtz, published with permission.

Dave Leshtz is the editor of The Prairie Progressive.

The first sentence of Tim Kraft’s obituary in the Albuquerque newspapers last month labeled him as the manager of Jimmy Carter’s 1976 Iowa caucus campaign and, later, “a top aide to President Carter.”

Not a bad legacy for a kid from Noblesville, Indiana. It gives a hint of the extraordinary, suggesting that the deceased man was smart, talented, and deserving of recognition for helping to elevate a nationally unknown politician and farmer from the South to the presidency.

For those of us who have worked the caucuses or on campaigns, we know just how remarkable of a feat that was—and why, almost 50 years later, it’s worth the lede in his obituary. We also know just how far out of the norm it is for the person who orchestrated that win to be so humble and down to earth.

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Souvenirs (A Hamburg Inn memoir)

Dave Leshtz is the editor of The Prairie Progressive.

228 E. Bloomington Street in Iowa City was a battered old duplex across the street from Tweedy’s grocery store, the future site of Pagliai’s Pizza. The elderly landlady lived in one half of the duplex. I lived in the other half with a married couple and their baby, plus whoever needed a bed for the night or the week or the month. 

A block south on Linn Street was the Hamburg Inn #2. The year was 1967, and the Burg was in its pre-caucuses heyday. I ate breakfast, lunch, or dinner there almost every day.

The customers were vividly eclectic: hungover fraternity brothers, young couples who obviously had spent the night together, lawyers with nearby offices, small-time gamblers, alcoholics who had trouble lifting that first cup of coffee to their lips without spilling, poets, and house painters.

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Rally in support of Ingredion workers on strike

Dave Leshtz is a member of AFT Local 716 and editor of The Prairie Progressive.

As a crowd gathered for a rally by Lucita’s Diner in Cedar Rapids on a hot September 1, two people in Union Yes! t-shirts shaded their eyes while looking up at the top of the Ingredion plant across the street.

“See that dust coming off the roof?” said one. “Yeah,” said the other, “that’s what happens when you have people inside who don’t know what they’re doing.”

The “people inside” are management personnel replacing the 120 workers on strike at one of the oldest and biggest factories in this city of 140,000 on the banks of the Cedar River. 

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