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.

 

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THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

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