Michael: Francine Shacter Wants To Be Your RepresentativePlease take a moment to visit the website of Francine Shacter for Congress. Admittedly, as of this writing, there isn't all that much there. Francine is a candidate best experienced first-hand, anyway.
Francine (you can't help but think of her by her first name) is very much the wise and compassionate elder stateswoman. Having seen her speak at a forum last night, I can tell you that she absolutely exudes patience, civility, sympathy, and good humor. She spent much of her time on the stump talking about the children she was helping to learn to read through the Reading Seeds program. Her passion for educational issues is evident. If she had her choice she would like to serve on the House Committtee on Education and the Workforce.
She is also passionate about veterans' issues. She says that we owe our veterans a debt that can never be repaid, but that we can, and must, give them finest care possible. She is strongly against the war in Iraq and feels that we should withdraw in good military order under no deadline but to get our troops out as safetly and expeditiously as possible. To ensure that our committments to our troops are honored, Francine would also wish to serve on the House's Committee on Veteran's Affairs.
Francine is herself a veteran of Congress and the Federal bureaucracy, having spent her career on staff at the House Committee on Government Operations, and at the Census Bureau and the Consumer Products Safety Commission. Presumably, she will know her way around upon arrival.
There may be a downside to Francine's experience, too, however. Francine is very realistic about what a freshman legislator can achieve: this could make her more effective at the job she wants, but it could also prevent her from describing to voters an ambitious agenda for what she'd like to achieve, out of honesty about the likelihood she could quickly achieve it.
Francine's humility in approaching the job of U.S. Representative is refreshing. She says she is not running to be queen, but to be the servant of the people. Her's is a self-effacement unusual in this age of big-ego celebrity politics. Francine wants to serve as a conduit between the people of CD8 and DC. She wants to convey the wishes of the people to power and to help solve problems. She thinks the highly partisan atmosphere in our government prevents problem solving and governance.
Despite a pragmatic and cooperative leadership style, Francine's politics are staunchly progressive. She's a big admirer of Howard Dean. Her motto, "love thy neighbor as yourself - and you don't get to choose your neighbor," was inspired by Dean.
Her positions are all fairly orthodox progressive Democratic ones. There are a few rhetorical flourishes on these positions she does especially well. She points out the hypocrisy of the Right for constantly calling for less federal regulation - except in our bedrooms and examination rooms. The governement is developing a "prurient interest in sex" according to Shacter, and needs to get out of Americans' sex lives and medical decisions. Shacter also hammers hard on the appalling statistic that America is 41st in infant mortality. I guessed 29th; I guess my outrage is a little out of date - pre-Bush, if you will. She thinks infant mortality is emblematic of the need for a more equitable health care system.
The impression I carried away from encountering Francine was of a wise and experienced person who wants very much to serve the people of her community. She seems the kind to avoid unnecessary conflict and kerfluffle if she can, in preference for making progress, even incrementally, toward her goals. But if crossed, she gives the distinct impression of having the wit and toughness to be the last one standing at the end of the fight.
The primary season, especially if Kolbe decides to retire (how often have we heard that disarming rumor?), will certainly test who's got what it takes to take on Kolbe or Graf. My sense is that Francine will have to make a considerable media splash, or perhaps pickup a DFA Farm Team endorsement to stay in the money race. She hasn't been in Tucson long enough to develop the network she'll need for funding and hasn't an extensive party base to work from. If Francine's campaign will have a fatal weakness, it may be keeping up in the money race, which is itself evidence of just how corrosive and limiting to our democracy is our method of funding elections.