Austin native helping Bradley

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 19, 2000

Wednesday, January 19, 2000

It’s not all fun for Ryan Natzke.

True, Bill Bradley is his candidate of choice, but this is about learning, too.

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Natzke is completing an internship working with the Democrat presidential hopeful’s Iowa campaign.

Bradley, a U.S. senator from New Jersey, is marching to Iowa’s first-in-the-nation precinct caucus in Iowa Jan. 24 and presidential primary in New Hampshire.

Natzke, a 1996 graduate of Austin High School, has been at his side since January 3, working from the Bradley state campaign headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa.

"His character stands out," Natzke said. "He is not your stereotypical politician. He doesn’t always say what people want to hear. I’ve been with him six times for six speeches and I know that’s true."

Natzke is the son of the Rev. William and Connie Natzke. His father is senior pastor at St. John Lutheran Church in Austin and his mother, Connie, is a kindergarten teacher at Holy Cross Lutheran School in Austin.

He has one older brother, Todd, who lives in Brownsdale.

Presently, Ryan Natzke is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, majoring in political science and public administration.

The internship with the Bradley campaign in Iowa is worth three credits toward his bachelor’s degree this spring and Natzke is making the most of the experience.

"I’ve learned quite a bit about how a campaign works from the inside," he said. "I’ve been working with the field staff calling congressional leaders, coordinating events and doing advance work for the campaign wherever it goes."

A typical day begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends whenever the work is done, according to Natzke. There are public appearances with the candidate and always the behind-the scenes work, usually on the telephone with other campaign volunteers. "It’s fascinating work and at the same time hard work," Natzke said.

Soon, he will fly to Boston, Mass., at the invitation of the National Youth Advisory board for the Center for Environmental Citizenship’s Campus Green Vote efforts this year.

He may rejoin the Bradley campaign in Wisconsin in March, when he has spring break from college classes.

However, Natzke hopes to obtain a summer job this summer with former Minnesota Congressman Tim Penney’s organization.

He also has been chosen for the Democrats 2000 Project, which will focus on key congressional races in 10 states during the presidential election year.

He will have to report to the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse on his internship experience and it is likely the candidate will merit a few paragraphs of praise.

"He’s a different kind of candidate," Natzke said, "and he draws people to him and his platform. He’s a candidate you can believe in."