A well-done story by Jennifer Jacobs in this morning’s Des Moines Register carries very sad news that State Sen. Mary Lundby has told friends that her long battle with cancer is all but lost.
State Sen. Mary Lundby called friends this week to say her doctors told her she would probably not live through Christmas.
“It’s been devastating to watch such a strong woman who seems invincible to undergo such a tragedy,” said Carolann Jensen, a staff member in the Iowa Senate and a close friend of Lundby’s.
“It shows you it doesn’t matter what your personality is, it’s tough when you’re facing your mortality.”
My admiration and respect for Lundby grew during the decade I covered the Statehouse. For one thing, she always had something insightful or interesting to say, and never shied away from speaking her piece. When Mary stood during floor debate, pens scribbled and tape rolled.
You could depend on Lundby to give it to you straight. When the spin got deep and partisan rhetoric clouded the air, you could always pull her aside and find out what was really going on. Her sharp sense of humor was welcome in a place with too many stuffed-shirts.
Not making her House speaker in 1993 was one of the worst mistakes Republicans ever made. And while the Iowa GOP now flails in the wilderness, looking for an identity, they should follow her blueprint for broadening the party’s appeal beyond the right wing.
She’s always been a fighter, for her constituents, for Iowa and for what’s right, even when what’s right is hard or unpopular. And it’s maddening how often we lose good people at the exact time we need them.
In a city and region searching for tough, honest leaders to guide the way to recovery, Lundby is exactly who we need. Hopefully our current and future leaders can learn from the rich legacy she leaves us.