I haven’t used this website in a long while. Please visit my senate campaign website for updates as I campaign to become the next senator to represent Minnesota Senate District 11.
One of my primary campaign volunteers posted this on Facebook today, “Michelle Lee, I hope you will run again soon. We need a woman like you to lead us.”
Here is my response to Susan and to those who support me.
Thank you Susan. I am honored to have your continuing support and will never be able to thank you enough for your hard work during our primary campaign. Reflecting on my run for congress I am amazed at the many good people who stepped in and banded together to lift me up with a kind word and who gave of their time and their hard-earned $$ to keep me and our message front and center. I do not kid myself–I know in my heart it was you and the hard work of other dedicated people who delivered a second place in a crowded race when others gave us little chance to win or make a positive impact. We did make an impact. We directed the conversations and amplified the issues that impact each and every person in the 8th Congressional District–job creation and broadband expansion, affordable education, affordable healthcare, the better treatment of our children, elderly and veterans. We fought for the environment, equality for all and to get the dark money out of politics. We provided alternative solutions based on our party’s platform and we did it all in the spirit of civility. In the limited time we had to build support in the massive 8th District I am proud of what we did… and will never forget the people we met or the stories they shared. That is why I am optimistic that change is possible. My reflections have strengthened my resolve to insure our representation in Washington, St. Paul and in every elected position across our state reflect a broader range of our citizenry. I stand ready to represent my family, friends and neighbors again in any position that will allow our voices to be heard in determining the future direction of our country. There is much at stake–and none of us can afford to sit it out. We need to vote, we need to run and we need to lead.
I’m pretty proud of my grown up kids. (I’m a mom, they will always be kids to me.) I know their generation will face many more challenges than we did. We were pretty blessed. My husband, Gary and I both worked and earned enough money to buy a home, raise a family and set aside a nest egg for retirement.
But I worry about many in today’s workforce. They are the ones burdened with heavy student debt and stagnant wages. Some are working two jobs just to pay the rent and other basic human needs. Making matters worse our nation’s inability to provide affordable healthcare for all has placed them in the a position where they are just one medical crisis away from financial disaster.
I can’t help but draw similarities between the generation of my kids and those of my grandparents who struggled during the Great Depression. Both believed an honest day’s work deserved fair compensation, every worker deserved a safe work environment and the promise of providing their children with more opportunities and a chance at better lives.
These beliefs were behind the creation of America’s Union Movement which gave us a 40 hour week, the weekend and an end to child labor in this country. Yet in recent years union membership has fallen in favor of the right-to-work movement. There are now right-to-work laws in 28 states.
This is how the AFL-CIO explains Right-to-Work:
“Right to work” is the name for a policy designed to take away rights from working people. Backers of right to work laws claim that these laws protect workers against being forced to join a union. The reality is that federal law already makes it illegal to force someone to join a union.
The real purpose of right to work laws is to tilt the balance toward big corporations and further rig the system at the expense of working families. These laws make it harder for working people to form unions and collectively bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions.
Right-to-work states tend to lean Republican. I am thankful that Minnesota is not among them and that my kids are proud union members. Fred is a member of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1189. He and his co-workers recently ratified their first union contract. My daughter-in-law Anna is a member of the Minnesota Nurses Association.
There is power in numbers. Numbers are built through organizing. Look no further than the teachers strikes of 2018 and the gains being made on behalf of workers we trust to educate our next generation of workers.
Today’s headlines indicate the 2018 Farm Bill could head to the House floor mid May. Any bill that moves forward must address the the dramatic changes underway in farm country.
According to the National Sustainable Agriculture Association “nearly 100 million acres of farmland is set to change hands over the next five years. To keep our agricultural economy strong, the next farm bill needs to facilitate the transfer of skills, knowledge, and land between current and future generations of family farmers.”
The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity act (H.R. 4216) and the Next Generation in Agriculture Act (S 2762H) seek to address the looming shortage of farmers and ranchers.
Legislation must also address the farm to table movement. Consumers must have more opportunities to buy locally grown food. But that will only happen by supporting our region’s farmers. To learn more about the farm bill and its impact on consumers and producers follow this link.
“Judd Apatow is not available to accept your phone call, ” and so it goes for a first time candidate dialing for dollars to represent her district in the US Congress.
I don’t know Mr. Apatow but his last name starts with an “A” and that means he was at the top of the list I received from the national fundraising consultant hired to help me find enough money to convince would be supporters that I can mount a “First Tier” campaign.
My name is Michelle Lee. I am a wife and a mom. I’ve been a nurses aid, a factory worker and a journalist. For more than 30 years, people in Minnesota’s Arrowhead region called me the T.V. news lady.
From the field and my chair at the anchor desk I brought them the news focusing on how the decisions made in Washington impacted our friends and neighbors in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District. My work was guided by the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics.
I did it without personal comment or opinion Monday through Friday on the 5, 6 and 10 o’clock local news.
A Democrat at birth, I cast ballots in every primary and general election since I was old enough to enter a voting booth, but not one viewer knew whether I was a Democrat, a Republican or an Independent. I have never been a political insider. I never worked on behalf of a political party nor did I openly supported or oppose a candidate during my career.
That was then. This is now. On the night Donald Trump was elected president I was on the anchor desk. A political analyst leaned in during a commercial break and whispered to me, “these numbers tell me Trump is going to win.”
I felt as if I had been punched in the gut.
55 days later I left my career behind. A few weeks later I was on a bus out of Duluth, Minnesota headed for Washington D.C. to participate in the Women’s March. It was my first act of political and social activism.
I went on to attend Wellstone Camp, the Vote, Run, Lead Camp and Take Action Minnesota focusing on their candidate tracks determined to one day serve my community.
When our Democratic Congressman Rick Nolan announced he was retiring following our party caucuses friends urged me to jump into the race.
“You have name awareness… people trust you,” they said.
Other friends who worked in politics tried to talk me out of it telling me there wasn’t enough time to mount a campaign. They also described how Washington was broken. They also warned money talked—that good candidates often had to walk away.
And that brings me back to dialing for dollars.
I’ve already picked the low hanging fruit. That’s how the experts describe family and friends who believe in me and who are willing to donate a few hard earned dollars to send me to Washington. Those are hard calls to make. I know the value of a dollar in their lives. Most have given to my campaign. Unfortunately, it is not yet enough for me to qualify for the all important “tier one” status, meaning enough money raised to cause big donors to pay attention to my campaign.
Rather than traveling my 27, 538 square mile district listening to the people I hope to represent, I’m told it is more important to sit in a room with an assistant and spend 30 plus hours a week calling a list of strangers.
Judd Apatow doesn’t know me. I doubt he’ll ever meet any of the candidates like me who are calling him. But that’s the world we live in. Because our politics are now filled with consultants and money bundlers.
As a result critical campaign time is focused on convincing people like him that I and other candidates like me are the only line of defense between mean spirited legislation designed to make the rich richer and build walls around the working poor.
Are you as troubled as I am about this money game?
The truth is, it will take good people to get involved in the process by volunteering for the candidate of their choice, holding house parties and yes, raising money to send them to Washington.
Even though Mr. Apatow is not available to take my call don’t be surprised if you get a “cold call” from me, Michelle Lee a former T.V. news lady from Minnesota asking for your ideas to steer our nation in the right direction and for a donation to send the first ever congresswoman to represent MN-8 in Washington.
My Campaign Facebook page
To donate to my campaign, here is the link to ActBlue
What was once a rare event, today I see eagles flying nearly every day above my Moose Lake, Minnesota home. When the sun does shine the sky is blue. We are doing better, but more work needs to be done.
I’ve been giving a lot of thought about the definitions of family and family values lately. Most of my childhood was spent in a traditional family unit. I had a mom, a dad and six brothers. But compared to the popular television program at the time; Leave it to Beaver, ours was anything but traditional.
Untreated alcoholism and its ugly symptoms were our distant cousin often visiting unannounced. The threat of poverty was a constant. I remember neighborhood kids taunting me saying their parents were going to call “Welfare” on mine. At six years old I didn’t know what welfare was, but I sure had heard a lot about the poor house.
Children of the depression, my parents greatest fear was the “poor house.” Mom could stretch a pound of hamburger, a box of noodles and a can of tomatoes to keep us fed and she made sure we went to Sunday school clean and pressed, our hair slicked back with sugar-water.
With the occasional helping hand from extended family, and our community along with well placed mentors we survived and thrived.
I’ve spent a lifetime studying what makes a family. Most families are not the Cleavers. The definition of family reaches beyond that traditional family unit, genetics or living under the same roof.
The Republican Party would like us to believe otherwise. Inspired by Jerry Falwell and Phyllis Schlafly for decades it has proclaimed itself the keeper of family and family values; values we have allowed them to define and use to divide families, communities and our country. This is also the party that fights to reverse critical social policy and our healthcare reform in favor of rewarding the wealthy one percent.
After years of interviewing friends and neighbors and reporting on the issues that impact our community I can report the concept of family has evolved far beyond some mythical image embraced by those who would hold us captive in poverty and the fear that is left unfettered promoting a long list of isms. (sexism, Racism, Age-ism, Colonialism and more.)
Today’s family is extended, non-traditional, same sexed, heterosexual, singular, plural; all the above and much more. Defining family is more difficult that catching lightning in a bottle.
I’ve been blessed by the wonderful families that have come into my life. Among them, a mom working part-time, going to college full-time and raising four healthy and happy children. Another mom working toward sobriety and the return of her children. A family headed up by a grandmother and community leader willing to call out injustice as she sees it, while standing firm in her resolve to create a better life for her kids.
I also want to tell you about another young couple I know and love. Until recently they would not have been allowed to marry. But Minnesotans understood the ‘heart wants what the heart wants’— and voted to approve same-sex marriage. That young couple is now happily married, owns a home and is creating a life together under the full protection of law. I am proud to say Minnesota’s DFL party led the fight to establish laws and programs to ensure these amazing families have the opportunity to survive and thrive.
The members of my party have a strong work ethic, we respect every human. We stand up for those who cannot stand for themselves. We are generous, honest and hold an open mind. We strive to live life well and do what we can to ensure others have the opportunity to live well. We are spiritual, fair and honest. That is the definition of family values in support of the evolving family.
With the 2018 midterm elections we have a unique opportunity to create the future we want for our children and grandchildren. To give hope to the generations that will inherit our legacy.
Our first step must be reclaiming the title as the party of family values; DFL, the Party of Family Values 2.0