Welcome to Campaign Season in the Heartland

An award-winning photographer’s 3,000-mile summer trek to document Election 2012.


Danny Wilcox Frazier’s photography assignments have taken him around the world, from Afghanistan to Cuba, Kosovo to Tanzania, and many places in between. But for our September/October issue, we asked Frazier, a Mother Jones contributing photographer, to trek around the middle of America and check in with three candidates fighting to go back to Washington. While putting over 3,000 miles on his Toyota 4×4, Frazier followed Bob Kerrey, who once served as Nebraska’s governor and senator—and now hopes to serve as senator again—to two down-home Fourth of July parades. He travelled with Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat in a conservative trending state, on a whistles-top tour of Missouri’s small towns as she fights outside-funded dark money attacks. And he followed Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq veteran and double-amputee now running for an Illinois congressional seat, who jokingly asked him to shoot only “her good side.” Together, the photos give a snapshot of the summer of 2012, when politics tints every ritual of the season.

A young American attending the J.E. George Boulevard Fourth of July parade. Omaha, Nebraska.
 

A Bob Kerrey supporter drives a convertible in the J.E. George Boulevard Fourth of July parade. Omaha, Nebraska.
 

Children stand ready with their plastic bags to catch candy at a Fourth of July parade. Seward, Nebraska.
 

Bob Kerrey waits to meet ranchers and farmers at a diner event. Scottsbluff, Nebraska.
 

Bob Kerrey greets ranchers and farmers. Scottsbluff, Nebraska.
 

A voter listens to Kerrey. Scottsbluff, Nebraska.
 

A Kerrey campaign staffer videos the event. Scottsbluff, Nebraska.
 

Cattle in a western Nebraska feedlot.
 

Inside Sudsy’s Submarine Sandwich Shop. Scottsbluff, Nebraska.
 

Congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth attends a summer festival. Villa Park, Illinois.
 

Duckworth in her campaign office. Rolling Meadows, Illinois.
 

The sixth congressional district in suburban Chicago is dotted with vacant office complexes. Duckworth has made economic issues a key part of her campaign. Arlington Heights, Illinois.
 

Working the phones in Tammy Duckworth’s campaign headquarters. Rolling Meadows, Illinois.
 

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) aboard a RV during her “In Our Town, On Our Side” campaign tour. Kennett, Missouri.
 

Democratic party headquarters. Caruthersville, Missouri.
 

McCaskill shakes hands in an Elks’ lodge. Poplar Bluff, Missouri.
 

McCaskill’s campaign RV in southeastern Missouri.
 

A sign outside Katie’s Diner, where McCaskill made a campaign stop. Portageville, Missouri.
 

McCaskill campaigning. Farmington, Missouri.

 

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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