Lewiston Tribune: Rep. Rudolph “Catching People Doing Something Good”

Political leaders like to talk about “good business” but when Rep. Dan Rudolph (D-Lewiston) talks, he’s a voice of authority. His voice comes from his heart as well as his head.

Lewiston Tribune reporter Bill Spence remembers Rudolph’s work in his community before he was running for the Legislature:

“… He took a walk to offer support and encouragement to his friends – trying, as he put it, “to catch them doing something good.”

Someone once told me a key insight into any candidate is what they did before they needed your vote – what they cared about and fought for, what causes they championed before reporters came around.”

This is one of the more engaging insights into an elected public servant that you’ll read (Lewiston Tribune, paysite):

Up Front/Commentary: Catching people doing something good

By WILLIAM L. SPENCE of the Tribune The Lewiston Tribune | Feb. 5, 2015

BOISE – Long before he ever considered running for office, Lewiston Rep. Dan Rudolph went for a walk.

It was the summer of 2009 or 2010. The Great Recession was technically over, but the economy was still in the tank. He’d lost his small car dealership, a casualty of the General Motors bankruptcy. Business owners everywhere were losing sleep, wondering how to keep their operations going … if they could … praying they could.

“I had all these friends who were really good at what they do, but they were getting the —- beat out of them,” Rudolph recalled recently.

So he went for a walk.

He didn’t go far – just wandered through downtown Lewiston, dropping in on people he’d known and done business with for years.

He told them it wasn’t their fault. The financial struggles, the gnawing worries about bills, the slowly slipping grip before they let good employees go: None of it meant they’d done something wrong. A bad economy didn’t mean they were bad people.

Those were emotional conversations. These were folks who’d been under tremendous pressure for months, every day an uphill battle, and along came Rudolph telling them not to doubt their abilities, assuring them they weren’t failures.

Hearing that was such a relief, some of them started to cry.

I ran into Rudolph a day or two after his walkabout. He was still surprised by the strong reaction he’d received. We talked about it a few minutes, then went our separate ways.

I’ve remembered the conversation ever since. It was a reminder of just how completely entrepreneurs and professionals pour themselves into what they do. Running a business is as much an expression of self-confidence and self-reliance as it is a means of making a living. When times are hard, it’s difficult for them not to take it personally.

I remember the conversation for other reasons as well, now that Rudolph is an elected representative. It’s a window into the type of person he was before he “got religion” and ran for office.

A few months ago I asked what prompted his recession walk. He said it stemmed from some advice he’d received – that once you’re in your 50s, you have instant credibility. People can dismiss you in your 20s and 30s, but when you hit 50 you become an elder statesman; they expect you to know something about life.

So what is there to do with this credibility? That was the issue for Rudolph: How could he use it in a positive way?

He took a walk to offer support and encouragement to his friends – trying, as he put it, “to catch them doing something good.”

Someone once told me a key insight into any candidate is what they did before they needed your vote – what they cared about and fought for, what causes they championed before reporters came around.

Shortly after the Jan. 12 inauguration ceremony, Rudolph told me being in the Legislature was “a blessing.”

Since he arrived in Boise, he’s been doing the same thing he did in Lewiston: making friends, encouraging everyone to do their best, trying to be a positive force.

And when they do something good, Rudolph will be here to catch them.

Spence covers politics for the Tribune. He may be contacted at or (208) 791-9168.

Related Posts