I just returned from a luncheon with Harry Mitchell hosted in someone's home in Tempe. I've never personally met our congressman until today, but I came away pretty impressed. As most of you who know me realize, I'm pretty uncomfortable usually in these sorts of gatherings - with strangers (I did have two friends who were there, the friend who invited me and her husband). But I've been trying to push out of my comfort zones lately, and I'm very passionate about politics.
Also, I had a couple of objectives. Mainly, I wanted to thank Harry Mitchell personally for his vote for our health care bill. He waited until very late in the process before announcing how he would vote. I sent him an e-mail before he did so, urging him to vote for the bill, and he came through, he voted for it. And he took a political risk doing so since he represents a district with more registered Republicans than Democrats.
He also spent some time speaking to the group and taking questions, and there were a lot of them. I had some questions of my own, but there were just sooo many hands up, I just listened.
Here are my take-aways:
1) I know this is probably a prerequisite for any successful politician, but I was extremely impressed that he remembered my name (this is something I'm horrible at) and he did so after a very brief and, from my part, awkward introduction. I briefly introduced myself as he was passing by. Then, a short time later, I was standing near the food spread, and he said, "excuse me Scott, I would like another piece of this ...". Later, when I thanked him for his vote, I told him that I had a personal interest in this issue. I mentioned that my daughter is diabetic and that our current system doesn't deal with people with chronic disease very well. I felt this bill was a big improvement and a good step in the right direction (ok, I wasn't nearly this eloquent). Later, in his speech to the general audience, he referenced me, again by name, when explaining his position on health care. I was impressed with that.
2) He comes across as very humble. He's almost 70, but seems and acts a lot younger. He's been married over forty years. Grew up in Tempe, AZ, was a school teacher at Tempe High. Was the mayor for 8 years. And now, he's finishing up his career as a Congressman. He has no agenda (it seems) other than serving Tempe.
3) He wants desperately to rise above partisanship. He wrote an op ed against Obama's lawsuit on Arizona (I'm torn on this). He has a moderate view on both health care and immigration - he wants to enforce our borders but he also wants comprehensive reform. He supports preserving Bush's tax cuts on estates and on capital gains (I disagree with him most strongly on the estate tax cuts, but I also disagree with him on the capital gains tax cuts). But he has a strong record of being a moderate, working across party lines, and really seems disgusted with the polarization going on in Congress right now.
I don't know much about the Republicans competing in the primaries yet, but I hope to soon. But he definitely deserves another term in Congress.