This is an open letter to potential CD3 congressional candidate Sharon Sund. There is no declared candidate in this district at this time, but there is an increasing interest in recruiting Sharon to run against Erik Paulsen.
UPDATE: There is a moveon.org petition to recruit Sharon to run: “Ready for Sharon!”
Three years ago I decided to get involved in the Minnesota Third Congressional District election. I had been involved in previous races, supporting various DFL candidates through the caucus, primary, and election process. But this time I decided to explicitly seek out a candidate who was science oriented, who would make issues like climate change a campaign priority and not just an add-on, and volunteer my time. I was pleasantly shocked and amazed to quickly discover that you were seeking the DFL nomination and that you were explicitly pro science, and that you had a degree in an area of science and had worked as a scientist yourself.
You may remember that I contacted you to find out more, to verify what it said on your web site, and that we chatted. Not only did it become clear that you really were a science oriented candidate, but that you were also a progressive with experience organizing progressive campaigns (such as support of the Affordable Care Act) and an experienced fund raiser. In short order I volunteered for your campaign, and eventually became staff on that campaign, and at the same time, we became friends.
Working on that campaign was a great pleasure for me. One of the things I remember most is the internal policy of that campaign to always be honest, always play fair, always respect other members of the DFL. The idea was to win the nomination, but if not, to remember — and these words were often said by staffers, volunteers, and by you — that we are all Democrats. We did not gain the nomination at the convention, but the very first thing (after a bit of crying and hugging and such) after that was to concede gracefully, to shake the hands of the winner and his team, and to wish them well.
Now it is time to consider the next Congressional election. I am asking you to run again, to declare candidacy for Congress of the United States for Minnesota’s Third District. Here are some of the reasons I think you should do this.
1) Pragmatically speaking, you’ve run before so running again will not be easier but it will be done with important experience under your belt.
2) The support you gained during the last run has not diminished, and in fact, may have increased. I’ve spoken with many members of the old team, including volunteers and other supporters, and it is my impression that they stand ready to help again. In fact, I would say that as a group we are eagerly chomping at the bit.
3) It need not be said that the need for a science oriented and savvy member of Congress is urgent, but what should be noted is that increasingly science policy, especially as it relates to climate change and green energy, is now a key campaign issue nationally. During the last election there were a handful of races where these issues figured as large as any other issue, and this promises to be more true this coming November. As has been pointed out by my friend Shawn Otto, the number of scientists or science-experienced members of Congress can be counted on one or two hands, but the number of science related issues that are critical to our nation is myriad. In fact, most of the key economic, security, and infrastructure issues we face are science related. Congress needs you.
4) As much as we all respect any elected official who represents us, our current member of Congress, Erik Paulsen, is not a science supporter. This is odd because he seems to have proclivities in that direction. But he is a cookie cutter member of the conservative wing of the GOP, and as such, votes against good science policy and supports the War on Science faithfully. The Third District is a science district. Our local industries are mostly science and technology related (including food, fertilizer, medical device, high tech, and so on). I am very proud that my wife, Amanda, who is a science teacher, coached the Wayzata Science Bowl team this year, and they are going to the National Competition in Washington, DC to seek a win for their school. You need to go to Washington DC to pursue a win for our environment and economy.
5) You have abundantly and clearly demonstrated that you are a person of integrity and good will. What you tell people — voters and potential constituents — is what you feel and know to be true, and you speak with clarity and sincere honesty. You are also a careful and thoughtful listener.
6) Your own personal experiences have gained you wisdom in all of the important policy areas. You worked in green energy, you worked as a manager, you have been an activist supporting important core-DFL social causes. If you go to Congress in Januraly 2015, you will hit the ground running.
7) You are respected by your peers and colleagues, and by the grassroots volunteers, officers, and others in the district’s DFL party.
8) You will be an all inclusive and fair minded representative of the entire Third District. One gets the impression that our current representative is rather selective in who he listens to. I see you as doing nothing less than welcoming all opinions, hearing all voices, and doing your best to represent all of our people.
9) You understand nuance and complexity in the issues of the day. Even Third District Democrats, who tend to be well informed and are often highly educated, may sometimes have canned opinions of many issues, especially the issues that they are not directly involved in. But all issues have multiple aspects, and have to be addressed with attention to detail, internal conflict, uncertainties, and with thoughtful consideration. This is one of the things you are good at. Only the best of the best in Congress now seem to understand this. Your going to Washington will improve the quality of our government, and its ability to make good policy.
10) In many ways you are the Third District. Your lived experience, professionally, in education, as a member of a wonderful family, and as one who has put so much of herself behind important issues, touches on almost every one of the diverse lifeways we represent.
11) Not so much about you, but about the election: Over the last several months it has become increasingly apparent that this is a “winnable” district for the DFL. Another thing I remember about the last campaign (and previous campaigns) is something that rather annoyed me at the time. So often I would hear people recite the same exact set of phrases and numbers about how the Third District is not winnable. It never has been. People have always done this and have never done that. Bla bla bla. But this year, most of those factors have given way to a strong sense that change is needed. Recent elections have shown a shift in the district that foreshadows a DFL win if the right candidate is put forward. You are the right candidate, and this is the right time for you to run.
I’ve written recently about why Erik Paulsen needs to be replaced. Now, I’m suggesting that you should be our Congresswoman. These can be thought of as two separate things. But together, they signal an opportunity that should be grasped. You need to run for Congress, Sharon.
And now, a side not to everyone else: No matter whom you support or which issues are most important to you, get out to your caucus on Tuesday!