It's impossible not to feel sympathy for Patty Wetterling.
Wetterling is, of course, the mother of Jacob Wetterling, whose kidnapping (along with that of Fargo girl Jeana North a few years later) forever scuppered the feeling that small towns are safe places to raise children, has become the poster adult for grassroots anti-crime activists.
But now she wants to run for Congress.
The Strib tells the story:
Patty Wetterling, who transformed anguish over her son's 1989 abduction into a pioneering crusade for child safety, has decided to challenge Rep. Mark Kennedy, R-Minn., for his U.S. House seat.This is wrong on so many levels.
Wetterling, 54, of St. Joseph, Minn., plans to formally announce her candidacy on Wednesday or Thursday, two Democrats familiar with her plans said Monday.
"Yes, I believe I'm going to run," Wetterling said in a phone interview. "... I thought about it a lot, and I believe it is the logical step for me to continue doing the work I've been doing."
While Wetterling's work has been admirable, picking the DFL for a party is just...wrong.
They're the party of catch and release. The party of uncertain civil committment for sex offenders. The party of victim disarmament.
Not to blame the DFL for the crime, or any specific crime - but they created an environment in Minnesota where crime was easier to commit, and to get away with, than in nearly any other state.
Wetterling has widespread name recognition and could capitalize on the fundraising connections that she and her husband developed.Not just an incumbent, but a very good one. Mark Kennedy is a serious candidate to run against Mark Dayton. He's a fine representative - worlds better than Bill Luther was - and the Sixth CD is lucky to have him.
The Wetterlings created a foundation to focus national attention on missing children after a masked man stole away their 11-year-old son, Jacob. But Patty Wetterling is untested politically and is jumping into a pricey campaign a mere six months before Election Day.
Two experts in congressional politics rated her a long shot in an era when 99 percent of incumbents win reelection.
"Here's the harsh reality," said University of Minnesota political science Prof. Lawrence Jacobs. "She's a sympathy candidate running against an incumbent."
Wetterling, well-meaning as she was, was a key piece of propaganda used to bash the loathsome 1994 Crime Bill through Congress. The bill - which enacted many of the facets of the Patriot Act that liberals and fundamentalists Libertarians are most exercised about - has done virtually nothing to fight crime. Not Wetterling's fault, of course - but her willingness to attach her name (virtually a sainted one in these parts) to such trite, opportunistic legislation doesn't bode well for the Sixth's future in Congress if she's elected.
"I didn't really seriously consider it until last Wednesday," Wetterling said. "I do not have money to run a campaign. I do not have a committee in place. I don't have a platform."Then when it comes to Iraq, taxes, abortion, victim disarmament and foreign policy, she's in the wrong party.
But, she said, she "would be fighting for a safer world for kids and for the future of our children."
Wetterling declined to say where she stands on issues such as tax cuts, the war in Iraq and abortion -- issues that could be at the center of many congressional races this fall.
"I have voted predominantly Democratic," she said, adding that as a congresswoman she would "make accountable, reasonable, responsible decisions."
I'd urge Wetterling to reconsider this decision. She has done so much good in the grass-roots and private sectors; it'd be a shame to see it squandered by attaching herself to the DFL.Posted by Mitch at April 27, 2004 07:41 AM