BY JON BERKON
Last Wednesday, the HLS Democrats hosted former Representative and current Kennedy School Fellow Martin Frost (D-TX).
Frost, who served thirteen terms in Congress and chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the mid 1990s, encouraged the crowd of students to get involved in campaigns and run for public office. While attending Georgetown Law, Frost worked on the presidential campaign of Hubert Humphrey. Wanting to run for office himself, Frost returned to Texas and threw himself into any campaign he could find, impressing local activists and politicians with his work ethic and willingness to do any role asked of him. In 1974, Frost challenged the incumbent Congressman and surprised observers by winning 42 percent of the vote. Four years later, he captured 55 percent of the vote and went to Congress, where he would remain for 26 years.
Frost told the students that they should engage in campaigns at all levels of government. There, students can gain vital grass-roots experience, talk to hundreds of voters, and impress political professionals. He praised elected office as an incredibly rewarding career and told students that they could contribute to public life at many different levels. “Frost really emphasized the importance of working on grassroots campaigns,” said first year student Andrew O’Connor. “Too often that is overshadowed by the focus on formulating policies.”
Frost also spoke openly with the crowd about the political prospects for Democrats in 2006 and the obstacles that the party must overcome to succeed. Due to voter anger over Hurricane Katrina, cronyism in government, high gas prices, and Iraq, Frost thinks that Democrats can make substantive gains in the 2006 Elections. He thinks that the party needs to focus on recruiting good candidates in every district, from the bluest cities to the reddest rural areas. He has personally encouraged scores of candidates to run for Congress in 2006, because it could be a banner year for Democrats. Frost believes that a positive message from Democrats, combined with the failure of incumbent Republicans, will help the party regain the middle class voters that it lost in 2004.