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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Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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