Janezich gets local support

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 12, 2000

Jerry Janezich pulled two children from the audience of 30-some people gathered at the Austin Labor Center on Saturday.

Saturday, August 12, 2000

Jerry Janezich pulled two children from the audience of 30-some people gathered at the Austin Labor Center on Saturday.

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"They are why I’m running," the DFL-Labor endorsed candidate for U.S. Senate said, putting his hands on the shoulders of 13-year-old Joe Samudio and 11-year-old Kristen Schulstad. "I was 10 years old when John F. Kennedy was elected and I decided I wanted to go to Washington and serve the people someday.

"Right now, 85 out of the 100 members of the U.S. Senate are millionaires. That doesn’t even come close to representing this room. If elections turn out to be about money, then what happens to them," he said, indicating Samudio and Schulstad. "The system doesn’t work and it has to be fixed. Who’s gonna fix it? Someone who has to scratch for every $5 or someone who can write their own check for their campaign?"

A native of northern Minnesota, the bar owner has been a member of both the Minnesota House and Senate. One of four candidates running for the DFL nomination, Janezich is competing with three wealthier candidates – Mark Dayton, Rebecca Yanisch and Mike Ciresi – for the U.S. Senate spot on the DFL ticket in November.

His friend and long-time fellow legislator Pat Piper introduced Janezich to the crowd of about 40 people gathered at the Labor Center.

"One of the things I learned early in my political life was that we from southern Minnesota were often aligned emotionally, intellectually and philosophically with those from the Iron Range," Piper said. "I enjoyed working with Jerry in the House, and I was pleased when he moved to the Senate. I was thrilled when I heard that he was running for Rod Grams seat. I know no one with more passion than this man."

Janezich spoke to the crowd about problems of Social Security, affordable housing, racism and threats to the family farm, all things that were addressed by JFK in his acceptance speech 40 years ago.

"If elected, my goal will be to try to get one of those things taken care of," Janezich said.

It was definitely a DFL crowd that gathered at the Labor Center.

"When I first got married, my father-in-law asked me which party I supported and I said ‘Republican, of course,’" long-time DFL activist Russ Robinson said. "He told me ‘only damn fools and millionaires would choose to work for the Republican party.’"

Today money is part of the equation, even in the DFL.

"Of course we want to see Jerry Janezich win the primary and the general election in November," Mower County DFL Chairman Jim Schulstad said. "I believe he has an uphill battle financially though – I think the other three DFL candidates are all millionaires."

Janezich’s answer to big money?

Work harder to meet the people.

Janezich came to Austin on Saturday from a fundraiser in Mankato, an appearance at the Blue Earth County Fair and before Saturday ended he would take part in a Rochester UAW picnic and a fundraiser in Cottage Grove. As stated on his campaign literature and in his speech, Janezich is relying on a grass roots effort to get him to Washingon, D.C., not television commercials.

It’s a type of campaigning that the veteran legislator loves.

"This is my politics," he said, sitting in the middle of the audience Saturday. "We can’t get our politics from a 30-second TV ad; that’s why I like this. People can ask me what they want to ask – you can’t do that on TV."

"My politics are ‘we politics.’ People ask me what are you going to do if you’re elected, it’s ‘what are we gonna do.’ The people should drive change from the bottom up."

For more information on Janezich, check his website at www.janezich2000.org.