Searching for Veronica Tessler

Bernie Sanders in Johnson County 2014

The worst kept secret in Johnson County is Veronica Tessler is running for the open seat in Iowa’s Second Congressional District in the June 2, 2020 Democratic Primary.

Six distinct sources have told me as much… and there are public Facebook posts, one of which includes a date for her announcement.

On April 12, incumbent Dave Loebsack announced his retirement, making this an open seat. My interest in Tessler began March 17, when I asked a friend, “Who is the progressive woman raising money and recruiting staff for a primary challenge to Dave Loebsack? I don’t see an entry on the FEC website.”

I found out it was Veronica Tessler.

If I met her, I don’t remember it. It turns out she has been on periphery of my life for more than ten years and I didn’t know it. This post is about what I found while searching for her on Google and in my email files.

I was an early adopter of Gmail, and still maintain records back to 2006. A search for Veronica Tessler yielded a couple dozen hits, all of them items where she was mentioned but not the author or recipient.

The earliest hit was the 2008 Second District Delegate list where Tessler was for Obama. She also ran for national delegate, according to the April 26, 2008 email from the Iowa Independent. I don’t know if she made it as I was in the Edwards camp at the convention, where we sent Dave Redlawsk and Ro Foege. I re-circulated this delegate list to various campaigns over the years, so there are other hits as well.

After that, my emails about Tessler are related to her work at the Stanley Foundation. I don’t remember her, even if I met her. When I reached out to David Shorr at Stanley, to help with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty ratification campaign, there was no suggestion or mention of her. She did write an Op-Ed to the Des Moines Register advocating for ratification of the CTBT on Feb. 21, 2010, according to an email from our public relations firm.

We were to bring Tessler in to a monthly meeting of Physicians for Social Responsibility in February 2011 to address nuclear proliferation. She was still at the Stanley Foundation and I don’t recall if I attended. In this case, Dunbar’s Number is likely coming into play as I met so many people when I was active with PSR it’s hard to remember.

In the March 22, 2015 issue of the Washington Post Tessler indicated she was politically inactive between 2008 and 2015.

In the basement of the Cedar County courthouse in Tipton, where (Martin) O’Malley spoke to about 40 Democrats, two young women offered Warren signs, buttons and stickers at a “Run Warren Run” table at the back of the room.

One of them, Veronica Tessler, 29, didn’t recognize O’Malley when he arrived but said he gave a decent presentation. Asked if she could see herself supporting him if Warren doesn’t run, she demurred.

“I think it’s way too early to be talking about that,” said Tessler, who owns a frozen yogurt shop in Iowa City. “Right now, we’re 100 percent focused on getting Senator Warren to run. I haven’t seen anyone who inspires me the way Senator Warren does. She’s real. She’s authentic. She’s powerful.”

Tessler said she had not been politically active since Obama’s run for president in 2008 and was drawn back in only because of Warren.

There are multiple news articles where Tessler was quoted about Johnson County’s minimum wage ordinance.

From the April 5, 2016 Daily Iowan:

“I agree a raise is the right way to go,” she said. “The challenge for small businesses like mine is that all my employees are part-time and mostly dependent on their parents and don’t have the same financial demands on them as people with children have.”

From April 28, 2016 KCRG-TV9:

Tessler said she supports a livable wage, but a higher minimum wage is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

“I am the only full time employee at my shop,” Tessler said. “All of my employees are full time students and part time workers.”

Tessler said her ten employees do rely on paychecks to help pay tuition and bills, but are still dependent on their parents.

“It’s different than an employee with dependents or children, that are looking to make a living wage and really support themselves,” Tessler said. “The difference being they’re still on their parents’ health care.”

Whatever equivocation might appear in the two press statements about minimum wage, Tessler later addressed minimum wage in her frozen yogurt shop in a YouTube video. When you look at everything, it’s clear she supported or came to support the Johnson County increased minimum wage.

Here’s what Johnson County Supervisor Rod Sullivan wrote on Dec. 21, 2016 when he awarded a Salvos Salute to Tessler:

Veronica Tessler: Johnson County has a fantastic group of young professionals on the rise. I am anxious to see what they will do when they take charge! When that happens, I expect Veronica Tessler to be in the center of it all. As the owner of Yotopia, Veronica has put her beliefs into action as a key part of her work. As an activist, Veronica has organized many successful events in Iowa City. Keep your eye on Ms. Tessler; her future is bright!

Tessler launched an Iowa City door knocking event for 2018 gubernatorial primary candidate John Norris from her apartment according to an invitation I received. She was quoted in a below the fold article in the March 31 Cedar Rapids Gazette about the teen gun protest in Iowa City.

On Wednesday, April 3, she lobbied in Des Moines with a group of young farmers. They had a photo taken, including her, Mary Mascher and Bobby Kaufmann. They also met with members of the Iowa Senate. This lobby trip was about the bill to re-write state law regarding who’s eligible for the ag exemption. I had to ask who the person was as I didn’t recognize her. “Someone trying to help,” said a farmer who named her.

So that’s what I found in my files. I recently posted,” To find our way, we need something different, and better. Our hope lies with the thirty-somethings who have arrived — like it or not.” I was thinking in part about her.

If Veronica Tessler does run for congress, she will be doing so against seasoned political veterans in the primary and in the general election. I didn’t see any serious appetite to replace Dave in 2020, but he announced retirement. Given the leaky bucket of rumors this county has become, the surprise will be if Tessler doesn’t announce for congress this month.

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