“I’m just an ordinary person who started paying attention,” said Lori Compas, as she announced her bid for state senate on Tuesday afternoon in Jefferson. But her supporters just might disagree with that statement. Countless attendees told me that Lori Compas is anything but ordinary. I talked with many long-time residents of District 13, including a former Republican, and they spoke passionately about Compas. They’re certain she will be able to defeat incumbent Scott Fitzgerald. And I agree.
Former Republican and District 13 resident, Frankie, said of Lori Compas, “She has gone above and beyond what most people would do.” Frankie believes, if elected, that Lori will listen to residents and serve as a true representative of those in the district, unlike Scott Fitzgerald. “I don’t think Scott Fitzgerald has been listening to anybody except Scott Walker, and that’s not what he was elected to do…he has gotten completely out of touch with the people in the district,” Frankie said. When I asked her about Compas’ lack of experience, Frankie replied, “Scott Fitzgerald didn’t have the experience when he was elected” and “Lori is bright, she’s energetic, and she will be able to figure it out.”
Nate Timm isn’t worried about Lori’s status as a political newcomer, either. In fact, he sees experience as a negative in the case of Senator Fitzgerald. Said Timm, “Scott Fitzgerald is using the experience he has to oppress the people of his district, not to work for them…Fitzgerald has chosen to defy the interests and will of the people of Wisconsin….he has no respect for democracy, he only has respect for power.
We need to return democracy to the people, and if there ever was a candidate that symbolizes that, it’s Lori Compas…she’s a person of the people, she stepped up with courage and recalled an oppressive non-representative representative and now she’s stepping up with courage again…to replace someone who needs to be replaced, and we’re all with her,” Nate said. While Nate Timm himself does not live in District 13, he’s going to everything he can to help Compas get elected.
“This is the classic David and Goliath story,” Nate continued. “One thousand volunteers stepped up to help recall. People from all over are going to help because they’re rooting for the David in the story.”
John, who was born in the district and has lived there over twenty-five years now, concurs. He told me he was there to support Lori because he feels that Scott Fitzgerald “has ignored us.” John said, “I want a change. I don’t think Scott Fitzgerald’s doing the job for us that he should be doing.” John said he was happy to be there for Lori Compas, and that it made him “feel really good that people can stand up for their rights and move forward.”
Those are some of the same reasons that Michael Thom of Columbus, a self-described “small business owner, a home owner, a taxpayer and a citizen who up until recently was not very politically active,” decided to take action. He had the honor of introducing Lori Compas just before she made her announcement. He said that after watching Senator Fitzgerald pass “damaging legislation without respect for our state’s processes and procedure” and fail to represent constituents like him, he decided to become involved. “Lori used her voice to turn one signature into more than 20,000, ”said Thom, and she “inspired us, she led us, and we trusted her. She has proven leadership skills, she operated with integrity, and she demonstrated a willingness to listen to others.”
Despite being “almost paralyzed by fear” in the week before her announcement, Compas is not worried about her ability to do the job. She said that, yes, she’s a political newcomer, but so was Scott Fitzgerald when he was elected to the senate, and Fitzgerald never held public office before serving 17 years in the senate. In fact, said Compas, Fitzgerald himself has proven that “it’s possible for a novice to learn on the job.”
Compas went on to tell the crowd that while she respects Fitzgerald’s service, something has changed with him, that over the past year, his actions were so divisive and unethical that 20,000 of his own constituents signed his recall petition. Compas plans to bring back “good government,” focus on jobs and affordable health care so that small businesses can flourish, and work with others (respectfully) to find creative solutions for economic growth. She also plans to work towards an end to government waste and fraud, she said.
Perhaps most importantly, Compas is not interested in providing corporate giveaways, but rather, truly listening to the needs and hopes of residents. “People should matter more than money,” she told us, to thunderous applause. To that end, Compas will hold listening sessions for the next two weeks (more info can be found at loricompas.org).
It was great to hear people from in and around District 13 speak with such genuine conviction about a political candidate. Everyone seemed invigorated and energized by Lori’s announcement.
Despite what she may say, Compas is clearly not “just an ordinary person.” But perhaps Nate Timm best summed up Lori’s campaign, why people adore her, and why she will ultimately defeat Scott Fitzgerald. “This is the classic David and Goliath story,” Timm said. “And who ever rooted for Goliath?”