Teacher. Soldier. Coach. Congressman.
The son of a public school administrator and community activist, Tim grew up in rural Nebraska and spent his summers on his uncle’s farm, learning to grow crops and raise cattle. Tim enlisted in the Army National Guard when he was just 17 years old, and spent more than two decades in service to his country. He worked a number of odd jobs before accepting a teaching position on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, and Tim credits this experience as the reason he made teaching his life’s work.
Tim taught high school overseas, in one of the first cohorts of American educators to teach abroad in China. He returned to the U.S. to open a small business that offered cross-cultural educational exchanges for Chinese and American students, and spent his off hours coaching football in a small Minnesota town.
Tim continued to teach and coach for another decade, until an encounter with a U.S. presidential candidate spurred him to run for office. Tim, who was then Command Sergeant Major Walz, and the highest-ranking enlisted National Guard soldier in Southern Minnesota, attended a George Bush campaign rally with one of his students. When campaign organizers saw that the student had a sticker on his billfold supportive of Mr. Bush’s opponent, both Tim and his student were denied entry. Says Tim, “That’s when I knew we had to do things differently. I didn’t want to be part of a democracy that turns away people for holding a different opinion”.
So Tim turned to Wellstone Action to help ready himself for what lay ahead. Tim signed up for Camp Wellstone in 2005, ran for Congress in 2006, and did something that just doesn’t happen every day, or ever – he defeated a six-term incumbent by six staggering percentage points.
In this conservative-leaning district, Tim not only governs as a progressive, he’s also been re-elected. Three Times. In 2012, Tim defeated his opponent by a whopping 15 points, proving just what it means to win the Wellstone Way. Says Congressman Walz, “Wellstone Action confirmed for me what I already suspected – that we can do things differently in politics – and they showed me not only how to win, but how to govern with conviction. I am honored and proud to carry forward Paul Wellstone’s vision for this country”.