A pro-life, pro-family Catholic widow named Karen Diebel is seeking the Republican nomination for a Congressional seat in Orlando, Florida, saying it is “critically important” to have a voice for such issues represent the district.
“There is such danger right now, with both the incumbent and the administration. All the decision-making on economic and social issues is in opposition to the values that reinforce and support strong families,” she has said.
According to the Catholic Advocate, Diebel is 43 years old and has three sons ages 10, 12 and 13.
Her husband, an obstetrician, was killed while helping a stranger on the side of a highway in June 2002.
“My life crumbled in an instant, into a million pieces,” she said of her husband’s death. She described herself as now being “older and wiser,” explaining that suffering “gives you a clearer perspective.”
She has credited parish priest Fr. Richard Walsh with helping her survive the tragedy. The priest told her that God has given her many gifts and advised her to think of her blessings even in her sadness.
“Then I thought to myself, ‘I will not be tired anymore’,” Diebel told the Catholic Advocate.
At the time of her husband’s death, she was a director of global solutions for Verizon and worked on business and technological problems for Fortune 100 companies.
After Fr. Walsh’s comments, she became more involved in her community. To provide health care to East Orlando’s uninsured, she co-founded a health clinic memorializing her late husband.
She also entered local politics, becoming vice mayor and a city commissioner of the Orlando suburb of Winter Park.
Diebel told the Catholic Advocate her leadership skills gave her an advantage.
She advocates an “efficient” politics that ensures personal freedoms and does not “waver on first principles.”
A 1989 graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she is reportedly “well versed” in Catholic teaching and applies it to her views on public policy.
“My faith gives me strength, a faith that is very clear on the values I need to carry forward in my personal life. We have to make time to do the things we believe in.”
Diebel is the granddaughter of Irish immigrants and most of her family lives in Chicago.
Asked how she could raise three boys while being a member of Congress, she said:
“I am already doing it — we are a very, very tight knit family. My boys are fun and they are strong because they’ve had to be along the way. Even today, professionally, I have to travel, but we often go as a family. They can understand and learn along the way.”
Diebel is seeking the nomination for the 24th Congressional District. She must defeat several Republican opponents in the August 24 primary before facing first-term incumbent Democrat Suzanne Kosmas in the general election.
Last month, University of Virginia professor Larry Sabat described the Congressional race as a “toss-up” between the Democratic and Republican candidates.