Look at the recent Daily Bits on the website. Give Money to Bill Weld. Nawres Waleed Hamid is the American contractor whose death Donald Trump avenged.

Political Note #265        Michelle De La Isla KS CD 02

2020                                  General Election

Sweep the porch

and place a welcome mat for goodness,

make your life poorly-suited

for anything but love.

and when hate knocks, act like you’ve moved!

Michelle De La Isla http://www.michelleforkansas.com/ is not your conventional Kansas politician. She is a politician, though. Young (43) and driven and ambitious and collaborative. Just not the politician you’d expect.

After Michelle De La Isla was elected mayor of Topeka, the swearing in ceremony was an event. A poem by African-American Topeka poet Annette Hope Billings was read, the last five lines of which are above. A small flock of religious leaders prayed for the city and the newly elected. This is Topeka we are talking about. Remember Brown v (Topeka) Board of Education.  Someone might say “We’re not in Kansas anymore.”

Michelle De La Isla was elected by 501 votes. Nevertheless, her election was not surprise. While on the City Council, she served as Deputy Mayor. She announced her run for mayor only after the 77 year old incumbent announced he would not run again.

It is Michelle De La Isla’s life that is a surprise. She was born in New York City, grew up in Puerto Rico. Her mother took her and her brother back to Puerto Rico to live with her parents. By the time she was seventeen, Michelle De La Isla was homeless. By nineteen, she was a single mother. Nevertheless, she started college at the University of Puerto Rico. Her church choirmaster encouraged her to complete her degree in the States. Startlingly, she finished at Wichita State. Not that Kansas was easy for her. She married there, but had to escape what she describes as an abusive marriage. Now she has three children.

Michelle De La Isla escaped the marriage with the help of a YWCA program. She founded an organization advising low income people about financial management. She became Executive Director for Habitat for Humanity in Topeka and stayed in that role for five years. She became Westar Energy’s diversity and inclusion representative, a job she kept while serving as mayor. As mayor she was a member of the Board of Regents for Washburn University. She had come a distance from being homeless.

Michelle De La Isla has targeted first year Congressman Steve Watkins. A speechwriter for former Governor Kathleen Sibelius had announced for the Democratic nomination, but dropped out. He did not attract much money though this is a district worth targeting. Michelle De La Isla let a little movement develop; she watched people encourage her. Then she jumped. Added to her decision to run for Congress was a touch of involvement in national politics. She endorsed a presidential candidate, Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of a Midwestern city slightly smaller than Topeka.

The incumbent, Steve Watkins, won his Congressional race in 2018 by 1%. He did that against a well-known and well-funded, but flawed Democratic opponent. Watkins had looked really good. Graduate of a local Topeka High School and of West Point, he has a Master’s Degree from MIT and an MPA from Harvard. He was an army Ranger serving in Afghanistan, in Khost province along the Pakistan border. Later, he worked as a defense contractor in Afghanistan.

But Steve Watkins had problems.  He had never voted in Kansas. He had never voted anywhere. His campaign literature included a photograph of President Trump, angering the President because it made it look like he endorsed Watkins. Watkins won his primary.   There were multiple candidates and he got a plurality. Twenty-seven percent of the vote.

Watkins lent his campaign almost $500,000. That represented somewhere between 20% and 100% of his personal resources. His dad spent more – more than $800,000. When the campaign was over, the campaign treasury had $5,000 cash on hand. His Dad’s PAC had a little over $6,000.   The law required repayment of personal loans that exceeded $250,000 within 10 days of the election. Steve Watkins forgave his loan to the campaign instead. The FEC is investigating.

Watkins’ situation actually began deteriorating before the 2018 election. A claim of heroism in Nepal was debunked. Claims about a corporation he had begun in Kansas were debunked. Claims of sexual misconduct arose too late to require addressing for the 2018 campaign. His address for voting was at a mail drop, a UPS office.

Watkins’ scandals generated a primary opponent. Watkins may not be Michelle De La Isla’s opponent. If Watkins is the Republican candidate, he is vulnerable. Primary victors over incumbents have a different kind of vulnerability. Either way, KS 02 could be a Republican seat available for flipping. Help flip that seat. Donate some money to Michelle De La Isla http://www.michelleforkansas.com/. Let’s stretch that Democratic majority.

Below are Congressional seats Democrats are trying to flip from incumbent Republicans. The ones with asterisks ran in 2018*



California 50                     Ammar Campa-Hajjar* to win this now open Rep seat

Florida 16                           Margaret Good to beat incumbent Vern Buchanan

Illinois 13                            Betsy D Londrigen* to beat incumbent Rodney Davis

Indiana 05                          Christina Hale to win this open Republican seat

Iowa 04                               JD Scholten* to beat incumbent Steve King

Kansas 02                          Michelle De La Isla to beat incumbent Steve Watkins

Michigan 06                      Jon Hoadley to beat incumbent Fred Upton

Minnesota 01                    Dan Feehan* to beat incumbent Jim Hagedorn

New York 21                      Tedra Cobb* to beat incumbent Elise Stefanic

Ohio 04                              Mike Larsen to beat incumbent Jim Jordan

Pennsylvania 10               Eugene DePasquale to beat incumbent Scott Perry

Texas 23                             Gina Ortiz Jones* to win this open Republican seat

Washington 03                 Carolyn Long* to beat incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler


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