Campaign News

December 17th, 2011

Iowa GOP Mourns Passing of Super Volunteer Wendy Jensen; UPDATE: Latham, Santorum React

The Republican Party of Iowa lost one of its best volunteers. Wendy Jensen of Ames went home to be with God on Thursday. She was a staple of Republican campaigns and a member of the Story County GOP Central Committee.

Jensen loved making phone calls for the candidate of her choice. It was her true passion. Jensen volunteered countless hours of her time, making well over 100,000 calls during the past few years on behalf of Republican campaigns.

Wendy Jensen began helping Republican candidates during the 2007 cycle. “We got her involved through the Latham campaign,” said Don McDowell, who now works with the Iowa Senate Republicans. “She helped out the Latham campaign and victory campaign. She was a diehard John McCain supporter. She supported McCain in the Ames Straw Poll even after his campaign collapsed. Wendy was one of those 100 or so people who voted for him. She also liked Tom Latham. She kind of found her niche in making phone calls and loved doing it.”

McDowell estimates that Jensen made “without a doubt, tens and tens of thousands” of calls in 2007-08. “There were days where she made a thousand phone calls a day,” he said.

Wendy Jensen continued her tireless efforts for GOP candidates in 2010. She volunteered for Terry Branstad’s gubernatorial campaign and at the GOP victory office in Ames.

“As the organizational director for the campaign, I know firsthand of just how valuable Wendy was to our efforts and made a huge difference in getting Governor Branstad re-elected,” said Jake Ketzner. “She quickly became one of our very favorite people on the campaign, and we were all fortunate to call her a friend. Her bright smile, infectious enthusiasm and compassionate, caring attitude lit up the room wherever she went. I join Governor Branstad and the whole campaign family in saying she will be sorely missed.”

Dane Nealson was the director of the Ames GOP victory office in 2010. “Wendy was a dream come true for any campaign,” he said. “She made more than 60,000 calls for us that year. Wendy would come in the office at 9:00 in the morning and wouldn’t leave until 8:30-9:00 at night, six or seven days a week. Many nights, we would try to close the office and she would say, ‘Just one more call.’ She was one of the sweetest, hardest working people I’ve had the honor of knowing.”

Once the 2010 elections ended, Jensen anxiously waited for the presidential campaigns to gear up. She latched on to Tim Pawlenty’s bid, making an estimated 10,000 calls on the candidate’s behalf in just four months.

After Pawlenty dropped out of the race, Wendy Jensen eventually gravitated to Rick Santorum. The former Pennsylvania senator reached countless voters thanks to Jensen’s efforts. This past Wednesday, she made 448 calls for Santorum. Then she joined the presidential candidate and other volunteers at an office Christmas party. Up to the very end, Wendy Jensen was doing what she loved.

Jensen’s passing was greeted with shock and sadness by Iowa Republicans. “I think Wendy was an extremely sweet and passionate, caring Christian woman,” Don McDowell said. “She loved helping people. She was always thinking of people.It wasn’t just politics. She delivered patients their mail at the hospital. She was very active in volunteering in her church. Wendy was just the type of person who had a kind heart.”

“It’s really hard,” said Dane Nealson. “She’s such an inspiration. There were times you would have conversations with her and she would talk about how she couldn’t wait to see Jesus’ face and see the angels. Knowing now that she’s in a better place and getting to see that, my heart grieves, but it also makes me smile.”

Wendy Jensen was 55. She graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in anthropology. Jensen is survived by her parents, some brothers and sisters and an extended family.

Clearly, God needed some extra help in heaven. He brought one of his angels home to help him reach as many hearts as possible during this Christmas season. Rest in peace, Wendy. We all love you.

UPDATE: Statement from Congressman Tom Latham: “Wendy was the kind of person who reminds you how great our country is. Her passion to volunteer and work tirelessly for the causes that she believed in was deeply heartening. Kathy and I will miss her spirit and her smile. Our condolences go out to those who were fortunate enough to have worked beside her. Iowa and the nation have lost a true patriot.”

UPDATE: I just got off the phone with Rick Santorum, in between campaign stops. Here is what he said: “It just breaks my heart. I was just with her Wednesday night and she was just about at 5,000 phone calls for us. She was just amazing. I mean, how sweet can a person be. She had a little body, but the heart of a lion. The love and commitment that she had. I feel so bad. Just really sad.”

About the Author

Kevin Hall
Kevin Hall brings almost two decades of journalistic experience to TheIowaRepublican. Starting in college as a radio broadcaster, Hall eventually became a television anchor/reporter for stations in North Carolina, Missouri, and Iowa. During the 2007 caucus cycle, Hall changed careers and joined the political realm. He was the northwest Iowa field director for Fred Thompson's presidential campaign. Hall helped Terry Branstad return to the governor's office by organizing southwest Iowa for Branstad's 2010 campaign. Hall serves as a reporter/columnist for

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