“….And so, for me, it is about working for the middle class. And as I look around I know the folks in this room, whether they are part of a union, whether they are part of a small business, we know what that means to have a small middle class. And so, for us, this year, we say this every year, this is a critical year. But for us this year this is a critical year….”
Yesterday evening Teresa Hensley’s (D) campaign held an open house celebrating the opening of her campaign headquarters in Harrisonville. Over one hundred people attended the event. Teresa Hensley spoke about the consequences of this election for the middle class.
Cass County Prosecutor Teresa Hensley (D), the Democratic Party candidate in the 4th Congressional District,
speaking to the crowd at the opening of her campaign headquarters in Harrisonville on Tuesday evening, June 19, 2012.
Show Me Progress: So, as, as a constituent in the Fourth Congressional District what does this election mean to you?
Don Long: This election is huge. It, it gives us the opportunity to take the Fourth District back for the working class people. Uh, right now our representation in Washington is dead set on cutting Medicare, Social Security, programs the middle class depend upon….
Volunteers signed up.
Show Me Progress: Uh, what, what does the Fourth Congressional District race mean to you?
Chris Benjamin: Well, I think it’s a very important race for the people of this state and, frankly, for the people of this country. I think there’s a lot of people here in the Fourth District that have buyer’s remorse after being served so well by Congressman Ike Skelton [D] and after he lost they’ve seen over the last two years that we have a representative [Vicky Hartzler] that just hasn’t been representing the working people of this district. Or, frankly, any of the families of this district. She just kind of goes and, and, uh, does what she’s told, uh, by her party bosses in D.C.
And I personally know Teresa Hensley, she’s a good friend, and I think she’s going to work very, well, she’s obviously working very hard in this campaign. I’ve never seen anybody work harder than she has. Uh, but she’s a very, she’s very independent, she’s a fighter, she’s gonna fight for the working families down in D.C., so, I think it’s very important, particularly, uh, in a year where the Republicans, they believe that they have a stranglehold in the State of Missouri, I don’t know why they believe that, we got a democrat governor that’s gonna win reelection by large margins, we got a Democrat attorney general, Democrat treasurer that’s gonna win by large margins. And we got a lot of independent minded, a lot of people that are upset that Vicky Hartzler [r], you know, hasn’t been representing the last two years in the Fourth District, so I believe that it’s a, I think that it’s prime, uh, area for us, uh, to pick up. And I think Teresa’s the candidate to do it….
Show Me Progress: What does the Fourth Congressional, Congressional District race mean to you?
Luke Scavuzzo: Well, it’s very important, uh, that we get somebody in there that actually will represent the people that live in this district. Uh, right now I think the representative that we have, uh, is a little bit, I don’t want to say self-centered, but, uh, seems to have a certain ideology and thought pattern of, of how she wants to do things and it doesn’t, it doesn’t, uh, work for all the people in this district. We really need somebody that will be out there and, and, uh, work hard for the people of, of the Fourth Congressional District….
Teresa Hensley’s remarks to those in attendance:
Teresa Hensley (D): ….I am really thrilled at the turnout here. You guys are just so unbelievably wonderful. I have had the best support during this campaign and I can’t thank all of you enough….
….There’s so many of you here that have played such an important role in what we do every day. Um, as I look around I see folks, uh, that actually every day are calling saying we can do this or we’re gonna get that done. I really, I don’t know how to thank all of you, uh, for what we’ve done already.
You know, we have a long fight still. November will get here before we know it. And, in fact, this quarter has gone really quickly. Uh, June thirtieth is right around the quarter and we have, you know, obviously, the end of the second quarter deadline. So, I, if you don’t see me for another week it’s because these folks have me working really hard. [laughter] And it’s something that we have to do.
We have been really fortunate, I don’t know if any of you saw, I know we’ve had it on the web page and we e-mail you guys all the time, some of you are probably getting tired of the e-mails, in fact, I hope I still have friends by the time this is done because we bother you so much. [laughter] But, a few weeks ago, Washington Post did an article about the top ten races to be watching around the country and we were number five on that list. So, to have the Washington Post and those folks in D.C. paying attention to what we’re doing is a bog thing. I mean, this race matters. And it matters significantly, not only in Missouri, but it matters around the country. And so, to have the folks in D.C. paying attention to what we’re doing really happened because of all of you.
In the first quarter we were able to raise two hundred fifty thousand dollars. And we raised that in February and March because I really didn’t get started until near the end of January. That happened because of all of you. Fifty-five percent of that two hundred fifty thousand dollars came from folks who gave me two hundred dollars or less. And so, when I’m on the phone the next week, those fifty dollars, a hundred dollars, and two hundred dollars are actually what gets us to that goal of two hundred fifty thousand dollars for the second quarter. And so, your contributions matter and everyone in this room has played a significant part in this campaign. So to have you come out today and see our campaign headquarters and be a part of it, um, is, is very touching to me. It’s very meaningful to see the faces that I see that are just friends. And you’ve been friends for a long time. Uh, and I can’t thank you enough.
Uh, this campaign is, you know, about having to raise two point one million dollars in order to do the media. But it’s more than doing the media. It is about getting out to every county….and every county knows what we stand for and what we intend to accomplish. And so, this is about hard work, it’s gonna be about hard work until November. And we intend to do that very, very hard work.
Um, for me, as most of you know, where’s my Ironworker buddies, over here in the corner [inaudible], I have a brother who’s an Ironworker. Uh, my dad was a union plumber, My brother, in nine, in two thousand and twelve makes the same pay that my bro, my dad did in nineteen seventy-four. In thirty-eight years there’s been no increase in that income. But yet there’s been a huge increase in the cost of living as all of you know. So while my dad could build a house in nineteen seventy for nineteen thousand dollars we know now that a house costs a hundred and eighty-five thousand, a hundred ninety, two hundred thousand dollars. My dad could put gas in a car at fifty cents a gallon, my brother’s putting gas at three fifty a gallon.
And those folks are worried about whether
they have enough gas sometimes to get to work the next day, deciding whether or not they can make their mortgage payment if their wife has medical bills, or trying to send their child, uh, to the doctor or put food on the table that night. We’re losing our middle class and our middle class is dwindling so badly that it’s also affecting our small businesses. So, when we have a jewelry store in town or we have the dentist in town and they are complaining that business isn’t good, well, you know, it’s not billionaires and millionaires are coming to their business, it’s all of us. And it’s all of the folks who are the Ironworkers and the carpenters and the roofers. And so if the carpenter on his way home wants to buy a necklace for his wife for her birthday that night and he can’t afford to stop in that jewelry store that jeweler isn’t gonna make any money. And so it is about not only our middle class, but our small businesses. So when we hear the other side talk about what they want to do for small businesses, what they can do for small businesses is make sure that folks can afford to buy their goods and services. [voice: “Hear, hear.” voice: “That’s right.”] And that comes from having a strong middle class. And we know what that means, drastically. And we know that it means having a good salary. We know that it means having a job that they can rely on.
You know, as a child, with my dad as a plumber, we had this wonderful, uh, I had a wonderful childhood, we had this wonderful standard of living. My dad made a really good wage. And so as I was growing up I didn’t worry about whether my dad was gonna be able to pay his mortgage, whether he was gonna lose his job and not be able to find another one. And children know those things, children hear those things. So those very children today hear when their parents are worried about losing their house, they’re worried about putting gas in their car. So our children have this really unstable ground under them. They know that things are not good as well as their parents. And it’s unconscionable what we have done to the middle class.
And so, for me, it is about working for the middle class. And as I look around I know the folks in this room, whether they are part of a union, whether they are part of a small business, we know what that means to have a small middle class. And so, for us, this year, we say this every year, this is a critical year. But for us this year this is a critical year. It is a year that we have to work hard.
We have to remind folks, really, what we stand for. And we do stand for making sure that Medicare and Social Security are strong, that Pell Grants are available for our students to go to college. You know, when the [Republican, House Budget Committee Chair] Paul Ryan budget wants to cut food stamps, when it cuts food stamps it’s cutting not only children who are affected by that, but it also affects our farmers in the Fourth District. And so the Paul Ryan budget is just a mean spirited budget when it wants to do away with Medicare as we know it and Social Security and Pell Grants. Those are things that we rely on as middle class families and so very important to us.
So, this year, it is about us telling our friends and our families, it is about telling our uncle, uh, who just isn’t thinking right, what we all stand for. [laughter] I know you all have those uncles. [laughter] And so it is about making sure that folks are listening this year, about what it is is important to the pe, the very people we know, to our families. And it’s the reason I’m running, because again, I have parents who are seventy-six years old. Medicare and Social Security matter. I have an eighteen year old nephew. Pell Grants matter.
You know, in Harrisonville alone, uh, as part of the Rotary, they do a packing the back pack on the weekends for the school, for the kids to have food. In Harrisonville alone, we’re in the middle of the country, in a rural community, and we have a hundred and eighty-five kids every week that take home back packs. That’s unconscionable. It’s not right that we have children that are going without food in this country. We’re too prosperous and wonderful a country to have what’s happening to the middle class continue to happen.
So, I’ve kept you too long ’cause it’s really hot in here and I apologize for talking so long. Thank you very much for coming. Really, all of you mean so very much to me. I, I can’t thank you enough. [voice: “Thank you.”][applause]