I know some of you know that my husband Barry Welsh is a Congressional Candidate running in Indiana’s 6th District and I’ve been writing about my lessons learned in a political campaign.

We have been looking at how Barry’s campaign has been and is going – planning speaking engagements, meet & greets, endorsements, fundraisers, volunteers and it’s been really interesting.  The Indiana’s 6th District covers 19 counties; relatively the size of New Hampshire and each are unique and essential in their own right.  The people of the district cover a wide spectrum of socio-economical demographics and it’s the same expressions of worry, frustration and anger that I see that is bringing the district together.

We received our first “hate” letter yesterday – unsigned, no return address and vaguely sent in care of the church that Barry is a Pastor to.  The letter in part spoke of ambiguous points that aren’t really clear but the point that struck me was the senders “you definitely sound like a teacher, union member and a Democrat” (end of quote).  I was, of course, bummed out to say the least, I had come home from a 15 hour day from work, Barry was at an event that I couldn’t get home in time to and when I picked up the stack of mail from our mail box, this letter was included.  To be frank, I was more than a little deflated and half wondered aloud if this was a sign of the things to come?  If so, I thought, I needed to remember a few things, not everyone agrees and not everyone writes nasty letters.  The next envelope I opened was from a couple living in the district for a donation with a note “Keep up the great work & God bless!”.  This note naturally perked me up and I thought well that’s good news and encouraging.  There have been many that have sent emails, letters and messages to say that they want to help, they are worried about the way things are going and of course that is an understatement, but we are getting volunteers and info, events and great people wanting to work together for a common goal.  Getting Mike Pence out and Barry Welsh in, people have given me such insight that it’s been inspiring and heart wrenching at the same time.  

People, I’ve noticed, are wanting to get involved, we are finding a large number have never been involved with politics and most genuine in their outrage at the current administrations both on a state wide level as well as on a national level.

The coverage in the media of the war in Iraq has been so frequent and so, I don’t know the word that I feel but it’s like it’s so unrelentingly raw.  There have been so many reports of attacks against our troops and the loss of our fellow Americans has gone past the point of numbness now, the losses and the length of time that our people have been at war is scary, worrying and compounded with the worry of funding such a war – we can’t send our troops inadequately supplied or unprepared, it’s the very least we can do when our troops sacrifice so much.  The ones that have been injured or the ones that have come back with such horrific scenes in their heads that it’s incomprehensible as to how they could keep those images from haunting them.  There have been ones that have sacrificed their time with their families, their friends and their communities – a sense of normalcy. The indignity has been when some have come back disabled and find out that their veteran benefits have been cut.

I don’t pretend to know what one of our fighting soldiers goes thru and I would not even try to compare anything that I’ve ever experienced with what they have seen, and have had to do.  I have so much respect and inspiration for their many sacrifices.

The broken economy that we are experiencing – Gas at $2.65+ per gallon, cuts to Medicare/Medicaid, cuts to Education – there have been a significant number of children left behind Mr. Bush!  The loss of jobs, being outsourced, bankruptcies, foreclosures on folks that since Nov. 2004 are now paying upwards of a 500% increase in property taxes.  Our District 6 of Indiana has had an increase of 17,000 families added to the increasing number living within poverty and seeing the middle-class shrink to mythical dimensions since 2000 alone – Rep. Mike Pence has been in office since 2000.  

This country is set to change – whether Barry makes it as the winner of the Feingold Finalist contest this week or not, it is an honor and with a truly appreciative attitude that we view this contest.  To be a finalist, to see someone make the effort and encourage us in fighting the current administration is gratifying.  We have worked hard at getting Barry in every county, every day working at getting his name and face recognition, getting the issues out and showing the district that we are hearing them especially in such a time of uncertainty.

I’ve been working at helping Barry at anything that I can do, to support him and his campaign in any way that I can – when this campaign was first started, I never imagined that I would learn as much as I have, not only about the current issues and politics but most importantly about the people.  We, the people, all deserve the dignity and respect that has been very sadly lacking from the current incumbent Rep. Mike Pence, in fact, this district deserves a lot better – the respect, dignity and the consideration of OUR voices, after all the title for the Congressional seat is Representative, that should say it all.  You can’t just care about the people eight months before an election, they see through that.

So later on last night, I decided to re-read the “hate” letter and I took away this conviction – if Barry “sounds like a teacher, a union member and a Democrat” than I say GOOD!  I am so proud of my husband not just for tackling this very important decision to run but also take up for the people that he would represent and if he sounds, especially by his critics, just like himself – then you and I know that he’s the real deal and projecting exactly what he is.  I felt better about that letter and I believe that I learned a small yet valuable lesson, that no matter what, I believe in Barry and what he is doing – I think the signs of what may occur…will be great things for this district.

This is my diary and it’s not vetted through Barry’s campaign – it’s just my perspective of an active congressional grassroots, net roots and personally in touch campaign.  Thanks for taking the time to read my diary.

Sherri Welsh