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I'm the Campaign Manager for Congressional Progressive Democratic candidate Wanda Rohl IL-16 and I'm doing it, essentially, for free. That's right, no salary. I am volunteering my services, my time, my blood, my sweat, and my tears. I'm honored to work for a woman like this:

My name is Wanda Rohl, and I am passionate about moving this country forward.

I learned the hard way that none of us is immune from potentially serious, life-threatening injury or illness that can turn our lives upside down in the blink of an eye. We all know someone who has been injured or become seriously ill and has lost their medical insurance, and maybe even lost their home trying to pay exorbitant medical bills.

As a “pull-myself-up-by-my-bootstraps” kind of person, I worked my way back from a tragic ATV accident that left me a T-6 paraplegic, to earn a Masters Degree in Social Work, and I’m ready to go to Congress to continue my fight to bring the same kind of freedom, opportunity, and security to everyone in Illinois.

I didn’t need a bailout or handouts, but hands at my side to help me rebuild my life, till I was able to return to independence. No one who is willing to work hard should be denied the chance to take charge of their life, to recover and rehabilitate from devastating injuries and illness. I am eternally grateful for all the programs that helped me get through, and I’m determined to fight for a country where those services continue to be there for our friends, family and neighbors when they need the same help.

Everyone deserves the freedom to live their lives to the fullest. Everyone deserves the opportunity to contribute to their families and their communities in meaningful ways. And everyone deserves the security that comes from a system that’s designed to catch us when we fall and help us navigate that uphill battle to pull ourselves back up.

After my injury I received physical therapy through the Department of Rehabilitation; my doctors’ visits were covered by Medicare and Medicaid; my kids didn’t have to go hungry; and I had the opportunity to retrain for a new career with Pell grants and scholarships.

Let’s work together to move this country forward on the key issues facing us today: a quality public education for all children, women’s family planning rights, the right to affordable health care that can’t be lost when you get sick, sustainable energy technology that’s the way of the future, and a stable economy with a productive citizenry.

 My opponent wants to repeat the mistakes of the past, where big financial institutions don’t have to follow common sense rules to keep them from tanking our economy and ruining our personal savings accounts; when massive insurance companies could kick you off your insurance for getting cancer, deny you coverage and raise your premiums with no accountability.

That is the America my opponent would take us back to. There’s no pride there, only callous disregard and irresponsibility. That’s not the United States of America that our founders dreamt of.

I know we have a shot at winning this.  

I'm proud to be involved with a progressive candidate who truly wants to make a difference in the lives of her fellow Americans.

Going in I knew that this campaign would be an uphill battle. We took a hardline against Citizen's United and chose to decline any corporate money. We were up against a Koch Brothers funded opponent. We had no name recognition, and we were running in a predominantly rural district. I was prepared for that.

What I was not prepared for, however, was the lack of support from the Democratic establishment even though we had strong local party and individual union member support.
The generic response I kept hearing was Wanda couldn't win, yet IL-16 was a brand new district as of 2010 and there was no polling data to suggest that. In fact, I've done research to suggest this IS in fact a winnable seat. Furthermore, there are IL-16 idiosyncrasies that I believe give Wanda even more of an edge in this race.

In 2008 the 14 counties that comprise the new IL-16 as a whole went for Obama more than 50%. Some of the counties that went McCain were won only by a single digit percentage point (Grundy County, for example, was only separated by 10 votes). That data alone suggests that this new district is NOT a Republican giveaway despite the rhetoric, especially with strong party and union support.

Conventional wisdom has shown in election years in which congressional approval has been low in the months leading up to Election Day, there has generally been higher turnover of seats in Congress. In 1992, a year in which Congress was highly unpopular and incumbents seeking re-election were running in redrawn districts, more than 100 new members of Congress were elected. Compare that to the 2002 elections when 53 new members were elected, the last election that followed redistricting, but at a time when Congress was much more popular. Congress has never had very high approval ratings at this point in an election year other than after 9/11 and in 1974 so it isn't likely ratings will improve. However, President Obama's approval rating and satisfaction with the country HAVE improved which is important.

Another consideration is the high profile Kinzinger/Manzullo March primary earlier this year. Freshman Kinzinger (IL-11) challenged Don Manzullo who has been in Congress nearly 20 years. Kinzinger's district was redrawn and he knew he had no chance of winning (for my Chicago folks can you imagine him remaining in his area that was redistricted into IL-02 and campaigning in Harvey, Dolton, and Markham and sympathizing with folks there...downright comical). So he had to challenge an incumbent Republican and went after Don. Kinzinger probably would've lost but Rep. Aaron Schock convinced Eric Cantor to donate $25K to Kinzinger's primary effort; that is where things got sticky (Cantor's PAC actually donated substantially more than that). The primary got dirty, Kinzinger won by 12 points,  and an FEC complaint was filed. Many constituents of IL-16 are upset about it and I don't blame them. Many of those angered are actually teapartiers who got Adam elected 2 years ago and watched him turncoat on them as soon as he met Cantor. They rallied around Manzullo during the primary.

We also have the Chrysler plant in Belvidere which was saved by President Obama's auto bailout and grew from 400 to 5,000 jobs (yes there are some issues but the bailout saved so many families and the community). Compare that to the Bain owned Sensata plant in Freeport (which is making national headlines for outsourcing every job to China by November) right next door to us in IL-17. The differences couldn't be more staggering.

Wanda is relatable—she was born, raised, and still lives in the district. The farm she lives on has been in her family for generations. Her husband is a military vet and union worker. Her son is United States Marine. She is NOT a career politician and people (republicans, democrats, libertarians, and everything in between) LIKE that.

Wanda navigated the social safety net, used social programs while she needed them (due to an unexpected ATV accident almost a decade ago), and got off of them (and as a social worker she understands what needs to be fixed to end dependence and encourage success) and people from all parties LIKE that.
Congress has historical low approval ratings. Kinzinger was originally elected as a tea party candidate but the tea party is now disenchanted with him (while mainstream moderates and independents find him too extreme based on his co-sponsorship of the now infamous "rape" bill H.R.R. 3 with Todd Akin among others).
I would be remiss if I left out the Ottawa news radio station report last week on the latest tactics by the Kinzinger campaign to divert attention from Congressman Kinzinger's ethics problems. According to WCMY, Kinzinger still hasn't accounted for that $25,000 funneled to his campaign from Aaron Schock (who Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington named one of the most corrupt congressmen), and now faces allegations that he's been getting cash from New York groups associated with organized crime. When WCMY tried to get responses from the Kinzinger campaign, they countered that Wanda Rohl's yard signs and campaign literature had errors in the small print disclosure language.
Congressional campaign managing can be a pretty lucrative gig so when people in the business find out I am volunteering they look at me like I have three heads. A democratic politician who will remain unnamed that I chatted with during the DNC in Charlotte admired my loyalty and dedication but told me I should jump onto another campaign.

That thinking will HURT the democratic party. We MUST use our skills, talents, efforts, and funds to elect Progressives to office if we want to move our country forward.

Wanda Rohl will properly represent the people of IL-16 because her campaign is funded by people she is invested in and cares about; Congressman Kinzinger has raised millions from secretive PAC's, big oil, energy companies, corporations and party bosses in Washington who control his votes in Congress while he sits on the Energy Committee. THAT is why I am willing to step up and volunteer to manage this campaign.

I encourage you to learn more about Wanda at her website: Rohl For Congress

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"Like" her on Facebook

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Originally posted to elizabethawilke on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 05:12 PM PDT.

Also republished by Land of Lincoln Kos.

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