Submitted by David Soll
In April of 2013 I was attending what is called the monthly central committee meeting for the Winnebago County Democratic party. I attend these meetings because I am a precinct committeeman. At this meeting, a decent, soft spoken older gentleman came in and stood before the party members and announced his intention to run for the Illinois 16th district of the US House of Representatives.
His name is Randall Wayne Olsen. His intention for running was a series of small, but very good reasons. The first being he was not quite ready to fully retire. Other reasons ranged from his not wanting to see the current incumbent running unopposed to his having many good ideas he wants to pitch to the people of this district and nation.
After this meeting was over I introduced myself. I had just recently run for Winnebago county board and Loves Park city council, not to mention the fact that I’ve been a precinct committeeman for nearly three years. We hit it off immediately. We have our differing opinions, but in my mind that is a good thing. It has been slow going, but we have done everything necessary for a new campaign to get the ball rolling. We have done fundraisers, hosted meet and greet, attended events, stood before all the county parties in the district, and have created a small but very dedicated group of volunteer campaign staff.
We have a website (www.electrolsen.com) we are on Twitter, Tumblr, and FaceBook, and we are currently working on a YouTube channel. Mr. Olsen has done radio interviews and filled out questionnaires and has a couple article written about his campaign. In other words, we are doing everything expected of us.
Unfortunately, there seems to be an ongoing myth too many Democrats (even one Democrat is too many) are convincing themselves of. And that is the myth this is an unwinnable race. The Randall Olsen for Congress campaign wholly rejects this notion. Sure, the state Democrats in Springfield redrew this district, seemingly as a giveaway to the Republicans. That Rockford is split in two is testimony to that. But to point to that, other than as a reminder to us of the dangers of gerrymandering, is to be making excuses.
We are not looking for sympathy, nor are we assuming an “underdog” status. The energy of the staff we have put together is, in my mind more than enough to give the GOP incumbent a good fight. But energy and motivation by us is not enough. It’s going to take the energy and motivation of every single Democrat in the 16th district to help put us over the edge. The point I’m making is please don’t give up on this candidate. If you convince yourself this is an unwinnable race, then the myth becomes self perpetuated.
Perhaps a simple reminder of what the current incumbent had done in the last two years is in order? He has voted more than 40 times to repeal Obama-care. Say what you will, but the ACA is the law of the land. If the incumbent believes the law has flaws, he should have argued for it being amended, not repealed. He also voted to shut down the government over the ACA. Being the ACA was completely unaffected by that shutdown, and certainly he would have known that. What was the point of shutting the government down? He voted to not raise the debt ceiling. By the way, the debt ceiling is NOT a matter of trying to spend more money; it’s a generic procedural vote that allows the government to pay the bills for the money it already spent.
There are plenty of reasons Democrats need to support Randall Olsen any way they can. Please don’t fall for the myth this is an unwinnable race. We can win. But we cannot do it alone.
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