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Congressman Rick Steves?

My husband and I are big travel junkies and I love watching Rick Steves' various travelogues on PBS. But we had no idea of Steves' influence until a

My husband and I are big travel junkies and I love watching Rick Steves' various travelogues on PBS. But we had no idea of Steves' influence until a few years ago. While in Sorrento, Italy, we were looking for a place to feed our fussy toddler. It wasn't the dinner hour and most places were setting up for dinner. But at this one restaurant, the maitre d' outside offered to make our kid a little plate of food to satisfy her. So we went in and sat down to a pretty authentic meal. But we noticed that as we were eating, the whole restaurant filled up--quickly. There had to be 50 tables turned in the 90 minutes we were in the restaurant. And each one of those tables had one thing in common: someone had a copy of Rick Steves' book in their hand. All of them.

But it looks like Rick Steves may be delving into other interests:

Everybody knows that Democratic U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee (WA-01) has long had his eye on the governor’s mansion, and is widely expected to give up his House seat to run for our state’s top office in 2012. But who of note has his eye on Rep. Inslee’s coveted House seat, once it becomes vacant?

Word is that noted travel writer and TV and radio personality Rick Steves is seriously considering giving up his globetrotting ways for an extended stay in the other Washington, and is already working the local Democratic circuit in preparation for a potential run. The latest evidence? Steves jumped at the offer to be the keynote speaker at the Snohomish County Dems’ Annual Gala fundraiser on Sept. 12.

Yes, I know, 2012 is quite a ways off, but it wasn’t so long ago that Inslee was a top candidate for the number one or two position in President Obama’s Department of Energy, giving Steves a more immediate opportunity to explore his own political ambitions. And it was during this time, with a potential special election looming, that Steves reportedly firmed up his intention to run.

Steves could be an incredible asset to the progressive community, as this profile in Salon shows. Recently, Steves branched out from his European travel to travel to Iran, which displayed an all-too-rare side of the depth of Iranian culture and humanity. His travelogues urge Americans to approach new cultures with appreciation and an open mind, and that's certainly an attitude we could use in DC. And based on his humongous fan base (and experience on those PBS pledge breaks), he should have no problem fund-raising.

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