Left Justified: Long shots or sacrificial lambs?

It takes a lot of guts to run as a political candidate, especially if you have no money. But that’s just what two of my acquaintances are doing.

One of them, Ruben Zamora, calls himself the Progressive candidate running as a Democrat in the 14th Congressional District of Illinois. Rockford is in the 16th Congressional District. Ruben lives in DeKalb, our neighbor to the south, where Republicans are a dime a dozen. And the person who represents the 14th District in Washington, D.C.? Dennis Hastert, otherwise known as “the coach.” Dennis, for those of you who live in caves, is the Speaker of the House of Representatives. So my friend, Ruben Zamora, is taking on the strongest congressman in the United States.

And who is he? He is a Mexican-American who was born in Union City, Ind., to migrant parents. There were 11 siblings, and at age 11, he became a ward of the state and was “semi-adopted” by a white, middle-class couple who were teachers. So he went from poverty to middle class almost overnight and graduated with honors from high school. He has a bachelor of arts in business management from North Central College and will be getting his masters in education from Aurora University.

Ruben is running because he was enthralled with Dennis Kucinich’s platform. He wants to “stand up” for workers’ rights, environmentalism, alternative energy, fiscal responsibility, economic growth, and a host of other things that are good for America. He, of course, has a snowball’s chance in hell. But the weather has been fluctuating a lot, and maybe he’ll make a dent in Dennis’s armor. If you want to contact him, send him an e-mail at zamora4congress@sbcglobal.net.

My other acquaintance who’s sticking his neck way out is McHenry County attorney Scott K. Summers. Believe it or not, he is running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Peter Fitzgerald. Peter is retiring, and the Republicans nominated another Ryan. My choice goes to State Sen. Barack Obama. I met the man with the funny name, and was really impressed with his wit, charm, intelligence and fervor for the issues. He graduated at the head of his class from Harvard Law, but instead of working for a major corporation, he worked as a civil rights attorney.

But attorney Scott Summers, who lives in Harvard, Ill., is running as an Illinois Green Party candidate. That’s right, there is such a thing as the Illinois Green Party. They’re trying to get on the ballot, and Scott has put his name forward for the U.S. Senate spot. Scott says he’d never do anything to lose the election for Obama and would drop out if it got close, but right now it looks like Mr. Ryan has problems with the law, as all Republican Ryans seem to have. So Scott says he will run, with hopes of bringing up issues and bringing up the Green Party to state stature.

The point is, these people are standing up for what they believe, and they’re taking on a job that looks overwhelming. The least we can do is applaud them for their courage, if not support them with our votes. And by the way, I probably will vote for Ralph Nader, but only if John Kerry has an overwhelming lead against George Bush here in Illinois. Talk about your one-in-a-million chance!

You can meet Scott and Ruben at the Monday night Coffee Talk, 7:30 p.m., April 19, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockford, 4848 Turner St.

Here’s something all of us can agree upon: giving money to feed the hungry. And here’s a fun way of doing it. On Saturday, April 17, anytime from 6 to 10 p.m., Emmanuel Lutheran Church is hosting a Coffeehouse Benefit to feed the hungry. This Lutheran church is at 920 Third Ave., just two blocks north of Zion Lutheran Church, so don’t get the two mixed up. Delicious soup, desserts and flavored coffees will be served. Music by David Stocker and Womansong. Poetry reading with Christine Swanberg. Lots of art will be for sale, and the proceeds will fund the food pantry.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

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