Mormons in the next Congress (Fingers crossed!) Part 1

BCC is pleased to let our readership know about the candidacy of Chris Henrichsen for Congressional representative from Wyoming. He is a friend of BCC and a contributor to the wider bloggernacle. We will begin with some questions and answers in Part 1, and continue on in part 2 with a detailed analysis of his political positions.

1. BCC:What is the congressional district for which you are running and what are its boundaries? Is it true that this used to be Cheney’s district?

Chris H.:My congressional district covers the entire state of Wyoming. This district has the smallest population of any district, but it is the 4th largest district in terms of geography. Yes this is Vice President Cheney’s old House seat. We have a lot in common, Dick Cheney and I. He was 37 when he first ran for this seat. I am 35. He is an ABD in political science. So am I. We both also have a rather sarcastic sense of humor.

2. BCC: What factors convinced you to run for congress?

Chris H.: It is something that I had thought about as a kid. However, after years of teaching and blogging I figured that I would spend my remaining days as a gadfly critic. However, the political bug came back to me about a year ago when I realized that nobody else was going to run as a Democrat for the seat.

3. BCC: How is this campaign fitting into the rest of your life as a college professor and family man?

Chris H.: It is making things crazy! I am teaching 6 sections this semester, though 2 of those are online. I am the 11 year old Boy Scout leader in my ward, but there are no 11 year olds active in the ward at the moment. This has actually allowed me to spend a lot of time with my family. While it is sometimes stressful, I have been able to spend much of my campaigning with the whole family. Lyndee has gone back to school for her second bachelors. She got her first degree from BYU and now is getting a bachelors in elementary education from the University of Wyoming. She is going to school full-time and starting her student teaching year. She also has two callings. On top of all that, she is my main advisor.

4. BCC: Tell us something about the development of your political opinions. How did you go from being a Limbaugh-loving dittohead to a Lenin-loving pinko?

Chris H.: Yeah, I proudly wore a Rush Limbaugh shirt as a teen that I had won from WMAL in Washington, DC. I was elected VP of the College Republicans twice while at Ricks College. I had a William F. Buckley poster hanging in my room at home before my mission (and it waited for me there for two years).

It is a long story. A few experiences played a part in my shift. The first was being exposed to the far-right movement before my mission. It startled me, in particular their backlash against Colin Powell in 1995 when it was being floated that he might run for President. The second was my mission. I worked with Vietnamese immigrants in Orange County, CA. It changed a lot of my perspective on wealth and inequality.

I think I have moved a little back to the center these days. I am still a egalitarian theorist, but I think that ideology driven politics is destroying both parties and our political system.

5. BCC: What is the most important thing for voters in this district to know about Chris Henrichsen?

Chris H.: The most important thing for the people the people of Wyoming to know is that the most important things to me are family and faith. When it comes down to it, I am a dad and a husband who thinks that every family should have the opportunity to be happy. And that is why I am running for Congress.

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We encourage readers to learn more about Chris and his campaign here: http://chrisforcongress.us/

We also encourage readers to put their money where their conscience ought to be and donate already! http://chrisforcongress.us/donate/

Comments

  1. Matt Thorley says:

    Mark,

    I too believe that every family should have the opportunity to be happy, however I believe the ideas of the Republican platform are more likely to achieve that goal. Obviously, you do not agree. From what I understand, Mormons are overwhelmingly Republicans, which makes you a bit of an anomaly. I would be interested to hear your arguments why you believe the ideas of the Democratice platfomr are more likely to achieve that goal.

  2. Matt,

    I do not think that either political party is the solution. I also think that party platforms are in many ways an exercise in absurdity.

    I recognize that I am an anomaly within Mormon culture. Trust me, as a pro-life Mormon…I am even more of an anomaly within the Democratic Party.

    My argument is that our representatives need to be fighting for the good of families. We should not be fighting for the good of parties or any special interest.

    Now, I am a Dem. Not denying that. I feel that as a Dem I am best able to fight for the middle class.

  3. “I do not think that either political party is the solution. I also think that party platforms are in many ways an exercise in absurdity.”

    Amen, Chris. I have voted for candidates from both major parties and others, and extreme partisanship is the political version of religious creeds, imo.

    I wish you the best – although I have no idea if I would vote for you if I lived in WY. I don’t know enough anything about the other candidate, and, as someone said recently, I do not think that either political party is the solution.

  4. Ray, since you do not live here…I will not lose too much sleep over it. I bet you could Google Cynthia Lummis if you had to. That said, parties are important. They are a mechanism for political involvement. Constitutional democracy is the most important thing.

  5. Yeah, Chris, don’t lose any sleep over it. I wouldn’t if I were you.

    “That said, parties are important. They are a mechanism for political involvement. Constitutional democracy is the most important thing.”

    I can agree with that. It’s just that each major party has its extremists, and they have too much influence in each party. Thus, the absurdity of their election platforms.

  6. Tell me about it! One of the toughest parts about being a candidate is dealing with the extremists within my own part. However, I mostly meet good citizens trying to make a difference. The same can be said for those involve with the GOP. There is no shortage of good-hearted people.

  7. Ardis E. Parshall says:

    I’d vote for Chris if I lived in Wyoming, and Chris is the kind of guy I’d like to have in Congress representing ANY state’s people, since we’re all affected by the whole body. I’m so sure of this that I’ve made my two first-ever donations to any political campaign, both of them to Chris. {Of course this probably marks him as a fat-cat politician beholden to outside interests, but that’s my fault, not his! :) }

    Seriously, while anyone in Congress represents his own state’s people first, we all need good men and women from every district to work together for the good of us all. We only have to look to the present Congress to see what happens when they don’t. I’m more excited by Chris’s candidacy than by anyone I do get to vote for. We’ll all be better off with him in Washington.

  8. This is interesting. How many Mormons will vote for Mitt Romney because he is LDS? What I like about Chris is that he is a centrist and his outlook is based on what he has experienced- not what his parents had taught him. Kudos! Thanks for posting!

  9. Chris,

    I graduated from Dick Cheney’s High School and I am so proud to see a Mormon Dem running in the state. I am sure sadly you have no chance based solely on people who just vote straight party ticket and don’t take time to learn the candidates. However, that doesn’t make the fight not important. As a fellow Mormon Dem precisely because of my concerns for the economic institutions that built and sustained our parents generation of middle class families and increasing concerns of the extremism in the GOP, thanks for standing up and trying to make a difference.

  10. rah,

    Would you like to move back? I could use you.

    Chris

  11. Can’t I vote for Chris even though I don’t live in Wyoming? Heck, Utah isn’t that far away.

  12. Hi Chris,
    Good luck in your race. I’m familiar with your politics only in the limited exposure I had from your blogging comments during 2008 presidential election and various other blog posts. What are the top three things that would give me a flavor of your move to the center mentioned in the OP?

  13. Jim, you could always move to Evanston and commute to Provo. :)

    Jacob: Thanks for the convention. I have moved to the center is the following ways:

    1. I see the need to compromise. This applies to both sides. In particular, we need to shed some of our ideological commitments to come up with solutions to our fiscal crisis. Neither side seems willing to do this.

    2. I am socially more conservative on somethings In particular, I am now pro-life on abortion.

    3. Here in WY, we really heavily on the energy economy. It is the base of almost all jobs here whether in the private sector or public sector. I am suspect of efforts to target coal and oil. Here they are not just fuel, they are jobs.

    Hope that helps. Let me know if there is anything else. Good to hear from you.

  14. Thanks for the question! Where did “convention” come from?………..

  15. Good luck Chris. As a slightly left of center guy myself politically, I applaud your effort. I’ve also read a lot of your comments in the bloggernacle, and think your views are very similar to mine. I echo the concerns about the extremes of both parties currently driving the political conversation, and hope for more pragmatic centrists in our governments, local, state, and federal.

    As an aside, as you stress your similarities to Dick Cheney, are you also going to get a pacemaker, buy a shotgun and a Sith breathing assist helmet, just to emphasize all those similarities to our former VP? Because that would be really cool.

  16. Matt Thorley says:

    Chirs,

    So, you are an anomoly on abortion within the Democrat party. You are suspect of efforts to demonize fossil fuels, which leads me to believe you reject the calamitous prediction of the warmists. I don’t know your position on gay marriage, but from what you’ve said, I’d be willing to bet you are at least suspect of the radical gay agenda. You think party platforms are an exercise in absurdity. (I would agree, but you have to have some basis for determining what a party stand for – if there is something better for that purpose I’d be glad to her of it.) You worry about the extremists in both parties, as do I, presumably so you don’t have something like Obama Care passed on an entirely party line vote

  17. Matt Thorley says:

    Chris,

    I sent the previous post prematurly. Anyway, Can you help me understand why you choose to be a Democrat and not a Republican, or at least an Independent? Why do you feel you can accomplish your objectives better as a Democrat?

  18. Kevin, sorry to disappoint…but the similarities are limited to the ones I mentioned. :)

    Matt, I think running as an Independent is an act in futility. We live in a two-party system.

    I do not reject global warming, I just want my friends and neighbors to be able to support their families. One thing we can do is expand into alternative energies like natural gas and wind energy…two areas in which Wyoming is leading the way.

    Platforms are interesting to a degree, but we do not vote for parties.

    I do not think their is such a thing as a radical gay agenda. I think gay people have as much of a right to the pursuit of happiness as anyone else. That is why I am not opposed to civil unions or gay marriage. My campaign logo, signs, and stickers were designed by a gay Mormon.

    I support the Affordable Care Act. It is not extreme at all. I talk about it on my site in more depth.

    I am a Dem. Either way, I plan on achieving my objectives as Chris Henrichsen.

  19. That’s a great top three Chris, thanks. Again, good luck out there, I applaud you throwing your hat in the ring.

  20. I was a bit sad to learn in the OP that you had centered out a bit, but I understand your reasoning I believe. I’m not a Democrat, and I don’t live in Wyoming so really anything I say here has no bearing on anything but I did want to wish you good luck anyway.

  21. EOR, it matters to me! My favorite thing about being in the general election is that party affiliation does not matter. I am appealing to everyone. I am still fighting for social justice. However, I am shifting more towards the public sphere and away from blogging. This new role requires a different approach. I am happier now as well. I am doing something rather than screaming at a screen.

  22. Good luck, Chris! As a Mormon Democrat, when I talk about issues like gay rights it seems to make a lot of people of the church upset. But I feel it is necessary — it seems that most of those I know who oppose gay marriage do it only because they think there is a sound theological basis for it, and half of them have admitted to me privately that they actually would support gay marriage but feel it would be treason against what the church wants. I think things will get better over time, though.

  23. Maryland Musician says:

    Way to go, Chris!! Those of us who are Democrats out here in your home state of Maryland are cheering you on despite the odds against you this time. There is always another election ahead……..

  24. Republican mormon votes are always a “given” in politics and it tickles me to see centrist and tilting left LDS out there. Go Harry Reid ! Go Chris !

  25. I applaud anyone who has what it takes to run for office. It is a huge sacrifice of time, money, sweat, and sanity. And in today’s media environment, one faces having their whole life turned inside out, often with collateral damage to family members.

    My family is involved with our local League of Women Voters, which holds local candidate forums and compiles Voter’s Guides. We have dealt closely with so many local candidates and see what they go through. It has convinced us that we personally would not be willing to run for office. So I sent a contribution out of respect for that commitment and willingness to serve, even though I don’t agree with everything that Chris stands for.

  26. “I would be interested to hear your arguments why you believe the ideas of the Democratice platfomr are more likely to achieve that goal.”

    I’m not Chris, but I can give my answers. First is healthcare. This can and should be a concern for both parties, as the Romney experience in Massachusetts demonstrates. But in the last few years, Republicans have run away from the issue. As a bishop and RS president, my husband and I spent a lot of time trying to find healthcare for members in need. We spent many, many hours making calls, helping to patch together something that would work for people. And so many of the members of our ward limped along with untreated conditions that kept them from working, until they turned 65 and finally had their conditions treated. We wondered what it would be like to serve in Canada or Australia or Taiwan, where access to basic healthcare was not an issue and we could spend our time worrying about ministering the gospel.

    Second is respect for other views. In the 2008 primary, both Clinton and Obama reached out to pro-life centrists with great respect. Indeed, the Obama acceptance speech had a very nice bit where he showed great respect for those with pro-life views. I listened very hard to the Republican speeches and just did not hear it. No respect for other views, only ridicule.

    [A lot of Mormons mistakenly think that our church view is pro-life, but if you have worked in the pro-life movement in the US, you know that we are NOT considered pro-life by most activists, catholics and others. They were skeptical about the exceptions for the life of the mother and rape anyway, and in the 90s when our church added an exception for fatal conditions like anencephaly, that tore it. They consider us squarely in the pro-choice camp, at least the folks that I have worked with.]

    The third is willingness to pay our fair share. My husband was appalled the first time that he stopped paying social security before the end of the year. He called and asked if he could keep paying, but they said no. And apparently the issue is that businesses don’t want to keep paying–that’s what the cap is really about, just as with the Medicare Drug benefit. No more seniors have prescription coverage now as they did before, but many private companies that used to offer prescription coverage to retirees have dropped it. So the Republicans are quick to talk about the strength of private enterprise, but quick to turn their responsibilities over to the government!

  27. Best of luck, Chris. Alas, I live in Utah, or I’d vote for you. You strike me as a thoughtful person.

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