After meeting with my prospective Media Relation’s recruit I headed to Jitters in downtown Duluth to meet with Mel and Chris. We had lots of ground to cover in preparation for my two-week departure for a long planned (if ill-timed) vacation to Denmark.
Mel and Chris agreed to take over as guest bloggers while I’m gone. I will be taking a laptop but I’m somewhat doubtful how often I’ll be able to check the blog or my email.
But the big news was indeed news to me. I had left so early this morning to get to Perkins West that I hadn’t had a chance to finish the paper. It seems a non-partisan, good-government, organization has arranged for a single debate between Rod Grams and Jim Oberstar. The News Tribune was kind enough to point out that “…third party candidate, Harry Welty, has not been invited to the debate.”
Well not yet. It was most important to nail down the big fry first but I am a political pirahana and it won’t be easy to ignore me for long. I’m relatively certain that even if I stopped campaigning today I’d still get 15% of the vote. I hope to verify this with a poll of my own soon. If polls results are a critical requirement I’m quite certain I will meet this threshold by October 17th, the date of the debate.
I will be contacting Debate Minnesota to insist on my invitation. I’ve met many of the Board members. Rod Grams was a board member himself once and I’m sure he wouldn’t want to be accused of being self-serving.
Anyone wishing to stick up for my inclusion in the debate could do so at this Debate Minnesota address. We have two months to inundate them with email insisting on my addition to the rostrum. The voters of the Eighth District should get a chance to compare their next Representative with the two eventual losers.
Mel, Chris, and I had much more to talk about. We will be getting our first serious fund raising letter out. We have to prepare for next week when we get new volunteers from the ad we’ve placed in Duluth’s Reader Weekly. And of course, we should get more yet from the following press release we just sent out to 40 news outlets in the District:
For Immediate Release
Thursday, August 24, 2006
For further Information contact:
Harry Welty – email@example.com
Welty to challenge Grams, Oberstar on the Internet
While Senator Rod Grams and Congressman Jim Oberstar have raised over a million dollars between them for their campaigns, largely from special interests and PACs, their Independent challenger, Harry Welty, a former Duluth School Board member, and 1969 Mankato High School graduate has spent less than $2,000 so far. He is trying to get the word out with his website: www.welty4congress.org.
“All that money that Jim and Rod are raising will be poured into 30-second television spots with pretty pictures, Mom, apple pie and the flag. They won’t tell voters anything about what they stand for,” said Welty. “But voters visiting my website can dig deeper and see why I say that Grams and Oberstar are part of the problem and how I would do things differently.”
Just because he’s taken time to develop a website doesn’t mean that Harry is opposed to television. “Voters who want to can go to my site and contribute and I’ll certainly use their help to buy television time,” Harry agreed. “It’s just that my thirty-second spots won’t be any more enlightening than Oberstar’s or Grams’s ads.”
Welty, who is running under the “Unity” Party label, was formerly a 35-year Republican who grew increasingly dissatisfied with the GOP as it made a sharp turn to the Right. According to Welty, the GOP stopped paying attention to legitimate criticism about the nation’s fiscal health and its conduct of the war in Iraq.
Welty circulated a petition through Minnesota’s Eighth District and gathered 1,250 signatures to have his name placed on the ballot. He will have to report his fundraising to the Federal Election Commission once he raises $5,000. Welty expects to cross that threshold soon. He points to Democrat Howard Dean’s and Republican John McCain’s presidential campaigns as examples of successful Internet fundraising. In fact, Welty was McCain’s Minnesota webmaster in 2000 before Bush supporters scuttled the Senator’s presidential bid by circulating rumors during the South Carolina’s primary that McCain had fathered a black child.
“I don’t like the tone of politics today,” Welty complains. “When I was a kid the Republicans and Democrats fought hammer and tong during the elections but got together afterward and did the nation’s business. Today they’ve dropped the ball and we have an eleven-trillion-dollar deficit and a quagmire in Iraq. Things have got to change.”
Of course, now I would also like to challenge Oberstar and Grams on the podium. Since they have both been closely aligned with Tom DeLay and have been asked to discuss political “civility”, mine will make an interesting counterpoint.