Des Moines, IA—
Burt Winthrop, the Republican senior senator from Iowa, is holding his 43rd annual “Summer FUNdraiser” this weekend in the Iowan capital city, but turnout is expected to be the lowest in years on account of the senator being dead for 16 years and counting now.
His campaign staff are planning the typical events of years past, including crowd favorites like the homemade chili competition, an arts and crafts auction, and a blown up air castle for kids.
However, many critics have expressed frustration with Winthrop’s continued campaigns, while wondering privately if it isn’t time for Mr. Winthrop to finally retire. The debate whether having a seasoned veteran in the Senate outweighs the benefits of having a physically alive senator gets fiercer every year.
“Don’t get me wrong, everyone here in Des Moines loves Burt, but, even if he wasn’t dead, he’d be 110 years old,” said Marty Reed, 38, a Des Moines resident who has been going to Winthrop’s FUNdraisers since he was a toddler. “I just think it’s time for a fresh face to represent Iowa in Congress. Someone who can walk himself or herself into the Senate and raise their own hand for votes instead of being rolled around in a wheelchair and held erect by an elaborate system of ropes and pulleys.”
Despite the physical handicap of his age and expired mortality, the local Republican Party has not lost faith in Senator Winthrop’s ability to win elections.
“Burt is a testament to this country’s 90% incumbency rate for members of Congress,” said Polk County GOP Chair Theresa Perry. “Burt literally hasn’t even given a live campaign speech in a decade a half, and he still keeps winning. His staff just plays the last recorded speech he ever gave through the loudspeakers, and I think Iowans just love the tradition of reelecting the oldest member of Congress over and over.”
The recorded speech does have its detractors, though.
“Honestly, it’s a very outdated and awful speech,” admits Michael “Mick” Waterston, 22, chairman of the local university’s College Republicans group. “I mean, I love and appreciate what Burt has done for this state throughout his long, storied career, but I don’t understand how the Winthrop campaign thinks this tape reflects the old man’s legacy in the best light. The video is, like, half just Mr. Winthrop coughing out his lungs, and toward the end, if the sound guy stops paying attention and forgets to cut the tape at the right moment, you can audibly hear Winthrop repeat ‘it hurts everywhere’ a few times. Also, the tape is littered with various racial slurs that have long passed their cultural and historical appropriateness, including an off-color joke about East German wives. I get that the guy was a product of the time period in which he grew up, but at least four generations have come of age since then.”
Nevertheless, Senator Winthrop won his last reelection by six points, though his margin of victory has been shrinking since his death in 2001.
“I think it’s really selfish of Mr. Winthrop to not get out of the way and let someone younger take his place in the Senate,” said two-time Winthrop opponent Carl Dawes, currently one of Des Moine’s Democratic state representatives. “And, for the millionth time, I cannot stress enough to Iowan voters that this guy is literally dead.”
The FUNdraiser begins next Friday at 4pm in Gray’s Lake Park.
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(Photo courtesy of annabellaphoto.)