Author: Eleanor Baumgartner

More Tales From the Senate Campaign Trail by Eleanor Baumgartner

Blogging from the Campaign Trail, Eleanor Baumgartner, wife of U.S. Senate candidate and State Sen. Michael Baumgartner

Summer greetings from the Baumgartner family!

I was sorry to miss last week’s blog post; I’m currently writing a book and I was working to a deadline to finish a proposal to send to publishers. The book is called “Love and Opium” and it’s about the two years I lived in Afghanistan. It describes the fight against opium, the struggles of Afghan women, and of course it culminates in meeting my fantastic husband Michael! It’s been fun for us both to reminisce about our time there as I work through the chapters, although it turns out that writing a book is much tougher than I’d anticipated!  I’ll keep you updated on my progress.

Celebrating Father’s Day

We took some family time last Sunday to celebrate Father’s Day. Conrad and I treated Michael to ice-cream and he made his dad a card with lots of smeary handprints. I was reflecting on how much I appreciate Michael when he was carrying a howling Conrad around the room at 3am on Tuesday morning (teething pains), before heading off for five hours of driving and a string of campaign meetings later that day.

A big “thank you” to all the great fathers out there for your love and hard work!

I wonder how many Washingtonians know that Father’s Day was actually started here in our state?  A Spokane woman, Sonora Smart Dodd, began the tradition in 1910. She was inspired by her own father, who raised Sonora and her five younger brothers as a single dad after the death of her mother.

It was fascinating to visit Sonora’s former home in Spokane two years ago, soon after the current owners, a great local couple, completed a painstaking restoration project. Yet another aspect of Washington State of which we can be proud!  If you’re over in Spokane, you should check out the house where Father’s Day began.

On the Campaign Trail Again!

We’ve covered hundreds of miles around the state in these last two weeks!

I enjoyed speaking to the South Kitsap Republican Women in Port Orchard on Michael’s behalf, while he was away in Georgia advising US troops heading to Afghanistan. They gave Conrad and me a warm welcome!

Two days later were all back together for the fantastic Prospector Days celebration in beautiful Republic; we had a warm reception there and a fun time at the parade. Later that day we met enthusiastic folks in Colville for a campaign social in the park. Then on Flag Day last week we were delighted to catch up with our longstanding friends at the Ponderosa Women’s Republican Club in Spokane.

I particularly wanted to thank everyone who responded to my fundraising letter coinciding with Conrad’s first birthday. Michael and I were so touched by the contributions and the thoughtful notes that you sent. I’m working through ‘thank yous’ for everyone; if you haven’t received my thank you note yet, it should be with you soon!

Question of the Week

“I read your article on Mike’s website about your 200 mile desert ultramarathon in Africa. Are you still running while pregnant?”  – Jackie, Pullman

We’re at 28 weeks now, and so far I’m still running…..very slowly! Most of the time I’m out with 1.5 babies, since Conrad comes along in his jogging stroller. In Republic we enjoyed taking part in the Gold Rush fun run, although I chose the shorter option and let Michael do the full 10km course.

I’m hoping to keep going as long as possible. The key is to make sure that I don’t push my heart rate too high. My doctor says it’s good for the baby and good for mom as well!

In fact, as a youngster I used to be on the same cross-country team as Paula Radcliffe, the current world record holder in the marathon. Paula now has two kids and she ran almost all the way through her pregnancies, so that’s a great inspiration – even though I’m moving at a fraction of the pace. Thanks for the question Jackie!


Conventions, Cake, and the Queen

Blogging from the Campaign Trail, Eleanor Baumgartner, wife of U.S. Senate candidate and State Sen. Michael Baumgartner

Hi Everyone,

We’ve had a tremendous week on the Baumgartner campaign!

The big event was the Washington State Convention in Tacoma. I was there Friday and Saturday, along with more than 2,000 delegates from across the state. What great positive energy!

I was especially proud of Michael’s campaign speech on Friday morning explaining why he is running for US Senate! It was fantastic and in case you missed it, you can watch it here:

The even bigger event was that Conrad turns one this week!  We celebrated his birthday at the convention with cake and punch, helped by a few hundred of our supporters and a great assist from former US Senator Slade Gorton.

The Senator shared a Gorton family tradition where a bottle, a coin and a book are placed before a child on their first birthday as a fun way to help predict their future career. Choosing the book predicts a future scholar (that’s the choice Slade said he made as an infant); the coin predicts a career in business and the bottle someone who is “sociable.”

Right before giving Conrad his celebratory cup cake we placed a water bottle, a US Constitution and a quarter in front of him.  Conrad went straight for the coin and Slade jokingly remarked that it was a good thing that Conrad will be a businessman, because with his father in public service he’ll need someone who can take care of him in his old age!

Thank you to everybody who helped make Conrad’s first birthday so special!

A Celebration Across the Pond!

Back in Great Britain there was a very different celebration this weekend with the Diamond Jubilee marking Queen Elizabeth II’s 60 years on the throne. The highlight was a spectacular seven-mile long flotilla of boats down the River Thames. A beautiful barge carried the royal family down the river and the Queen stood and waved from the deck despite the rain and chilly weather.

Just as impressive were the thousands of street parties across the country, where local communities came together to celebrate the Jubilee.

Although the Queen is much-loved in Britain, not everyone is a royalist. Even though I prefer America’s Constitutional Republic, there’s no doubt that the monarchy gives the British a sense of identity and stability. It was wonderful to see the unity and patriotism in that sea of red, white and blue, particularly with the past social tensions and the current economic struggles Britain faces.

Ten years ago I was in London for the more muted Golden Jubilee. At the time I was working as a consultant at Bain & Company in London and really enjoyed watching the Queen’s superb golden carriage pass by from the balcony of our office close to Trafalgar Square. It seemed so close that I could almost touch it and the carriage looked just like something out of a Disney movie.

People here in Washington sometimes ask if know any of the Royals.  I’ve never met the Queen, but I did once meet her husband Prince Philip. Soon after leaving high school I received the Gold “Duke of Edinburgh Award” from the Prince, for having participated in a number of volunteer and civic activities. I received the award at St. James’s Palace and I’ll never forget my mother reminding me to wear the customary hat, which seemed to be traditional! Prince Philip is famous for his public gaffes, but on this occasion we just had a polite exchange.  This weekend as I watched the news clips of the Queen and him at the Jubilee celebrations I thought back to how nervous I was that day.

Question of the Week

“Did you get Conrad any special gifts for his 1st birthday this week?” –  Tina, Spokane

We’re so excited that Conrad is turning one this week!

Michael and I have bought him a small Radio Flyer wagon and a set of wooden blocks. Michael had a similar wagon as a child and told me that “it’s never too soon to get your first Radio Flyer wagon!”

Not wanting Conrad to be spoiled, we didn’t want to get him too many gifts, but he is definitely enjoying the wooden rocking horse my parents sent from England. Those of you who were there when we gave it to him at the convention know that it was a big hit!


Remembering Our Heroes: Parades and Poppies for Memorial Day

Blogging from the US Senate Campaign Trail: Eleanor Baumgartner

It has been a busy week for our family traveling around Washington State on the campaign trail!

Michael spends most of his time up and down the I-5 Corridor, based out of the campaign headquarters in Bellevue.  However this week he was also campaigning hard in the Tri-Cities and the Walla Walla area. On Friday, Conrad and I headed over Snoqualmie Pass for a road trip to join him for a parade in Dayton. With all of the Memorial Day weekend traffic, and baby feeding stops, the journey took me a long eight hours!

Fortunately, it was worth it. The parade was fantastic and we had loads of fun! This was the 94th year that the Dayton Days Parade has been held, and there were marching bands, dancers, cowboys and rodeo royalty. Conrad had the best vantage point riding on Michael’s shoulders as we walked the parade route, and he was especially impressed by all of the horses. Conrad seemed to think that they were particularly big “d”s (dogs). Every time he sees something that looks like a dog his face lights up and he joyfully repeats  “d”…”d” …”d”.  We’re guessing that he might even say “dog” before he says “daddy.”

Of course, the most important reason for the parade on Memorial Day weekend is to remember the many Americans who have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep this great nation free. Michael was tremendously honored to speak at a ceremony at the Washington State Veterans Cemetery in Medical Lake on Memorial Day. In his speech, he shared thoughts about some of the Americans he knew who gave their lives in Iraq.

Back in my native England, our equivalent of “Memorial Day” is “Remembrance Day”, marked every year on November 11th just like Veterans Day over here. At 11am the country falls silent for two minutes, to honor all members of the armed forces who have died in the line of duty.

As with Veterans Day, the date was chosen to commemorate the end of World War I; it was at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 that Germany’s military leadership signed the Armistice. It’s shocking to remember that ten million soldiers lost their lives in that war, almost one million of them British. That was about 2% of the country’s total population, which is hard to imagine.

In England it’s still very common for people to wear pins with paper poppies to remember the fallen. They’re sold to raise money for members of the armed forces and their dependents. The tradition was started in America and comes from the poppies that sprang up on some of the deadliest battlefields of the Great War, made famous by the poem “In Flanders Fields”, which starts:

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow,
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.”

I was surprised that the practice seems to have lost popularity here in America, even though veterans’ groups do still sell poppies. I’m certainly going to make sure it’s part of our family’s tradition, and I wore both my American flag lapel and a paper poppy this Memorial Day as Michael and I remembered all those who have sacrificed to keep America free. Let’s hope it will catch on again more widely in the future.

Question Of the Week:

“Eleanor, you’re traveling all over Washington on the campaign.  Which part of our state reminds you most of England?” – Katie, Gig Harbor

Katie, thanks for the question! One of the features I most love about Washington is the diverse natural environments: the spectacular Cascade mountains, the pine forests around Spokane, the coastline, the Palouse wheat fields and the high desert steppes near Yakima.

But I’ve noticed that the area most reminiscent of England has to be around Seattle and down towards Olympia, with the look of the trees and plants. Perhaps it’s because the weather is similar with lots of rain!

Coincidentally, last Sunday we took Conrad on a walk in the wonderful Washington Park Arboretum next to the 520 Bridge near UW.  It was especially beautiful at this time of year, with so many of the trees in flower. During our walk Michael and I met some volunteers from the WSU Extension Master Gardener program. Hearing I was from England, they mentioned how the vegetation on the west side of Washington state resembles that in the UK. Apparently there’s a particular British botany reference guide that’s only really of any use in our part of America. It was fun to have some scientific confirmation of what I’d suspected and Katie, you’re right that parts of our great state are very much like England!

Please keep sending your comments and questions about life on the campaign trail to, subject line: “Question for Eleanor”.

Wishing you and your family a blessed Memorial Day!


Celebrating “The Great Republic!”

Greetings, and welcome to my blog from my husband Michael’s US Senate campaign trail!

Michael, our baby son Conrad and I have already had the opportunity to meet so many fantastic people across our beautiful state over recent months. Your support and encouragement has meant so much to our family. I hope we’ll be able to meet many more of you as the campaign rolls forward!

It’s a great honor for us to be running for the US Senate. It certainly wasn’t what Michael and I were expecting when we met in Afghanistan back in 2008, living and working together in our isolated office in Helmand province.

Our motivation to get involved in the race has come from a deeply held belief that we need to protect all that makes America great, for our future generations.

Over these next few months I hope to share with you stories and thoughts from the campaign trail. I thought that I’d start today by telling you about one of my favorite elected leaders – Sir Winston Churchill.

As a British immigrant from ‘across the pond’, I have a particular appreciation for the unique history and development of America, and for those principles of freedom and democracy that led our greatest statesman Churchill to affectionately call it “The Great Republic.”

In fact, my first real introduction to America’s history and politics was reading Churchill’s collection of essays by that name, written over some two decades ending in the mid 1950s. The book reflects his lifelong fondness and admiration for America that started with his American mother, and that culminated with the Anglo-American alliance he fostered to defeat Hitler.

One story I always remembered fondly was Churchill’s recounting of a meeting with President Harry Truman in 1946, as the allies emerged bruised but triumphant from the Second World War.

Churchill wrote: “The very first thing the President did was to show me the new Presidential Seal, which he had just redesigned. He explained, ‘The seal has to go everywhere the President goes. It must be displayed upon the lectern when he speaks. The eagle used to face the arrows but I have re-designed it so that it now faces the olive branches… what do you think?’ I said, ‘Mr. President, with the greatest respect, I would prefer the American eagle’s neck to be on a swivel so that it could face the olive branches or the arrows, as the occasion might demand.’”

Which way do you think the Eagle’s head should point?  Do you agree with Churchill?  Personally, I think that it’s probably best that the American eagle still faces the olive branches!

Of course, Churchill is a legendary heroic leader for us. I’ve always found it interesting that shortly after the allied victory against Hitler, Churchill’s Conservative Party was voted out of office, despite his personal popularity.

Instead of fiscal prudence, the British public chose a leftist Labor government that promised “full employment,” nationalization and a welfare state. I don’t doubt that Churchill wanted all of his countrymen to have jobs and opportunities, or that he wanted to protect the most vulnerable: his point was that the country simply could not afford to spend so much on social programs, and that Labor’s approach would eventually end up hurting the economy.

America faces big decisions in this year’s election. Choosing whether or not to be more fiscally responsible will be one of them.

That focus on fiscal responsibility is at the heart of Michael’s campaign for US Senate.  We want to put America on a sustainable and prosperous path for the future, for our baby Conrad – and all your children and grandchildren.

Even though I’m not yet an American, I couldn’t be more passionate about working to protect and celebrate the ‘Great Republic.’

I hope you’ll continue to follow the campaign through this blog. I’d love to get your feedback. Do be sure to send any questions you have for me to answer.

In the next blog post I’ll share some stories from the campaign trail, and perhaps a few thoughts on Queen Elizabeth’s upcoming Jubilee celebration.

Once again, our family and the campaign team are humbled by your support.

God bless America, the Great Republic!


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