CEDAR RAPIDS — It may have been Anne Holton’s first campaign trip to Iowa, but there was at least one familiar face in the audience when she stopped by the Hillary for Iowa field office in Cedar Rapids Monday.
“I have to point out the other reason I’m excited to be here is my college roommate,” she said, pointing to Janice Weiner, a volunteer in the Iowa City campaign field office.
Holton, wife of Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, roomed with Weiner, an Iowa City West graduate, their junior and senior years in college. They’ve stayed in touch for more than 30 years.
“We’re the type of friends where you call and meet up and it’s like no time has passed,” Weiner said.
Although they’ve recently been staying in touch by text and email, Monday evening they were able to spend a few minutes together before Holton had to get back on the campaign trail.
“I was all in on the campaign when it was Hillary,” Weiner said. “Then, when she picked Tim Kaine, I thought, ‘Oh my god, I know everybody up on stage.’ ”
Weiner, who retired from a 26-year career in the Foreign Service that took her to Mexico, Poland, Turkey, East Berlin, Canada and Germany, isn’t surprised to see where Holton is today. Even in their college days, Holton was passionate about politics. During the 1980 election campaign, Holton backed Illinois Rep. John Anderson, who ran as an independent, to the consternation of her GOP parents.
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“I was always interested in politics but I hadn’t grown up in that kind of political atmosphere,” Weiner said about Holton, who grew up the daughter of a Republican governor of Virginia.
Weiner has more than an interest in politics. She stuffed envelopes for Ed Mezvinsky, an Iowa City Democrat who served two terms in the U.S. House. Mezvinsky’s son, Marc, is married to Chelsea Clinton.
In 1984 — the year Tom Harkin was elected to the first of five U.S. Senate terms — Weiner was the only person the Iowa Democrats hired to run its Johnson County operation.
Weiner believes that Holton, a lawyer and former juvenile and family court judge for 17 years, and Virginia secretary of education for two years, brings “a real sense of normalcy” to the campaign.
“She always kept the family really grounded in the local church and community, the book club, taking her turn in the car pool, making sure there were family dinners,” Weiner said.
If Clinton and Kaine are elected, Weiner predicts Holton would continue her advocacy for children, “especially children who need a second chance — the kids who are in foster care, the kids who maybe have been up against the juvenile justice system, trying to figure out how to give them a second chance and give them access to education.”
Holton isn’t the only member of her family with an Iowa connection. Tim Kaine and Des Moines-based businessman, attorney and former member of the Iowa Board of Regents Dave Miles met as students at Harvard where they were neighbors in the dorm and shared a house during their senior year.