Saturday, September 2, 2017

Rokita Revelations Bring Back Personal Recollections

Rep. Todd Rokita
The revelation by the Associated Press that Todd Rokita is a bit of a bear to work for should not surprise anyone who has followed things closely since the Congressman has been in public life.

I don't know if the article will cause Rokita to lose the primary or not to Luke Messer, but it sure makes him look bad.  I can only go by the personal experiences that I've had meeting politicians of that make and model.  I've met other candidates, too, on and off the campaign trail.  I can say that you probably don't want to make enemies of your past staff.  It can bite you in the butt.

Now, I've never worked for my friend AndrĂ© Carson, but I can tell you that he's about as unpretentious as they come.  Congressman Carson and I first met when he was running for his grandmother's vacant seat.  I was undecided at the time, and Carson called me on a Saturday afternoon, as I recall, a few weeks before the caucus.

We talked about everything from his philosophy of government to religion to 90's pop music to what toys we played with as a kid.  Ultimately, I voted for David Orentlicher in the caucus, but I pledged my support to Carson in the primary and since then.  He's never held my caucus vote against me.  In fact, when I talked to him about it, he said, "Well you're on board now. Let's go."

When I was considering a run for state office, Congressman Carson gave me great advice as a friend.  He's also been a source of constant encouragement for me with my blog, my old radio show, and in my run for City-County Council.

His grandmother was another Congressperson that I had a great relationship with during her time as my representative.  I met her at a predatory lending roundtable, and I said I was from Decatur Township, "Well, I didn't know anyone LOVED me in Decatur," she said.

After that, I was her "Decatur Boy" everywhere she saw me.  I also was on the receiving end of a kiss on the cheek and a big hug from the Congresswoman.  She was one of a kind.

Probably the least pretentious politician I've ever met was (and hopefully will be again someday) Brad Ellsworth.  The former Congressman from Indiana's 8th District was in French Lick one year, and I wanted to meet him.  I finally ran across him and introduced myself.  He kept saying, "Call me Brad," whenever I kept trying to call him Congressman.

After a serious discussion of some issues we disagreed on, he invited me to his hospitality suite that night, so Chris Jackson and I found our way to the upper floors of the French Lick Hotel.  We entered the hospitality suite and asked for the Congressman.  "Oh, you mean Brad," said the staffer.  "He's out on the roof deck."

His suite opened up onto a large roof deck, and, sure enough, there was one of the 435 members of Congress surrounded by mostly his staff under the Southern Indiana stars.  We were admonished again to call him Brad by Ellsworth when we tried to go again to the Congressman word.  So, our last stop of the night was with Brad and his staff under the stars.  He sipped Diet Coke, and I seemed to remember a causal chat about our families.

I know this breaks down in a partisan way, but it doesn't have to.  I know there are truly nice Republicans and truly nightmare Democrats.  These are just the experiences I thought of when I read the AP article.


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