What can I do?

I’m just wolfing down a PBJ sandwich and some chocolate milk after five successful hours petitioning. Signatures are not hard to get. I’ve added another 100 and I still have a couple hours of daylight to get some more. I’m a fifth of the way to the minimum number I’ll need to get on the ballot. I have eight days left to get them.

I had a phone message waiting for me when I returned. It was short and sweet. “Harry, what can I do?” That was my old buddy Edith who has also suffered the slings and arrows of the outrageous party with me.

An email was also awaiting me from the friend I’d asked to be my campaign manager. He’s still thinking about that but he reported back to a query I sent him this morning. He told me that most of the pages on www.welty4congress.org now fit on his smaller computer. Hooray! He also reported the my blogsite is askew on his computer. That may take a bit more work for me to straighten out.

Searching for Lincoln

I wore a t-shirt with a wonderful image of Abe Lincoln on it. I purchased it on my trip to Springfield last year. Halfway through the day I recalled that Lincoln had campaigned under the banner of the “Union Party” when he ran for reelection. As I have chosen the word “Unity” to represent my one-man political party the coincidence was very pleasing. I decided I’d wear it every day while I’m petitioning. I hope it holds up to daily washing and drying.

When I came home after 8 hours in the sun I was spent but I got on the Internet and googled “t-shirts” and “Lincoln” to no avail. I wanted to buy a half dozen more for the rest of the campaign. It might be fun to wear them every day from now till November.

This morning I got an email back from the one connection I could find. The image’s creator was a person with the uncommon name of Trimborn. My googling led me to a music professor with the same name. He had written a book “Encounters With Lincoln.” Sure enough, I’d found the maker of the shirts and he was selling them through a single store the one I had purchased it at in Springfield. I’ll order more of them. Maybe I’ll even let people order them from my website now that I have a paypal account. (even if if the darned thing isn’t configured to my needs yet)

I may not go out of town to gather signatures after all. I can get my quota of petitions in Duluth more quickly and be done with it. Then I could go out of town to simply hand out the bookmarks and shake hands. I’d get more passed out that way and meet more people without having to have them stop and fill out all the info that the Secretary of State demands of them. 

The Trib didn’t mention my website which was a disappointment so no instant surge in hits. The several hundred bookmarks I passed out yesterday did just about double the traffic to welty4congress but I’m too greedy to be satisfied with that. I want thousands of people – tens of thousands - to check it out. Since I can’t afford major advertising yet it occured to me to make up hundreds of small lawnsigns with the url on it and pass them out around the district as I’m passing out bookmarks.

My next task before I head out to petition will be to tinker with my website to try to shrink it so that visitors don’t have to go back and fourth when they read it. That will make it a very annoying destination indeed and I can’t have that.

Hot fun in the summertime

I tried once again to figure out how to make my paypal account accept credit cards. I failed. There seems to be no human technician to help me out. Its too early yet to expect contributions. They may come in a few months time but its aggravating to spend hours to little purpose.

I sent off my first fund raising letters and then zipped down to the Lakewalk but not until a quarter after ten a little over an hour after I had hoped to start. fourteen of the first fifteen people I asked agreed to sign my petition. this was a fortuitous start and eventually I got over 130 signatures for the day. At that rate I should get a comfortable margin over the 1,000 I’m supposed to turn in. One of Duluth’s former principals rushed by and took two petitions for twenty names he said he’d try to get filled out for me.

A trio of ladies from Morrison county signed my petition then had second thoughts. Morrision is a very conservative county with a high proportion of Catholics. When they found out I was pro choice they seemed to regret helping but they were gracious and when I offered to let them cross off their names consoled themselves that as an Independent I wasn’t likely to win. The names stayed on the petition.

The number of people who seemed genuinely sympathetic with a third alternative to the two parties was enormous. Of course, that may simply be a response to my charisma.

I hustled back and forth until about 1:30 when the heat began taking a toll. Fortunately a couple young ladies offered me sunblock well before I ws ready for lunch. After I drove home for an hour’s rest I put an even stronger sunblock on and a cap as well. I don’t want the shiny patch at the top of my head to blister.

I went to the plaza shopping center at 2:30 in three hours there I got seventy five signatures to the 60 it had taken me four hours to get on the Lakewalk.

An old friend emailed me back to wish me well. He’s now the owner of several rural newspapers that I had sent Press Releases to. At least the print media seemed to pay attention. I got a call from the Duluth Trib’s reporter and he interviewed me for ten minues. It will be a short article tomorrow and it won’t be my press release word for word but I suspect it will be a reasonable introduction of my campaign the their readership.

I’ll try to get even more signatures tomorrow but I think I’ll do in in Duluth rather than drive to another city. I think I’ll to other cities and just hand out my bookmarks after I turned in my 1,000 signatures to the Secretary of State.


First Press Release

Welty Announces Independent Campaign for Congress

Two-term Duluth School Board member Harry Welty will begin petitioning Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District voters to be placed on the ballot as an independent candidate to challenge incumbent Congressman James Oberstar and former US Senator Rod Grams in this fall’s election.

Running as a “Unity” party candidate Welty says that if elected he plans to join the Democratic caucus as “Republicans can no longer be trusted with three branches of government.”

Welty was elected to the Duluth School Board in 1994 and served two terms until 2003. Welty also ran against Oberstar in 1992 as an independent candidate. His campaign has set up a website: www.welty4congress.org which encourages people to download petitions to help him get the 1,000 signatures he is required to return to Minnesota’s Secretary of State by the filing deadline of July 18th.

Welty, a former long time Republican who caucused with the Democratic Party this year, says that both party’s candidates will simply continue to do what the American public has come to dread – play politics. “Oberstar will try to get more pork barrel projects at a time when Congress has already saddled our children with a ten-trillion-dollar deficit and Grams voted to remove our last President from office.” Welty says he’s counting on moderate and centrist voter’s disgust with the current political climate. In a three way race Welty says he could get elected with as little as 34 percent of the vote. In Welty’s 1992 campaign for Congress he drew over 22,000 votes which was seven percent of the vote.

Welty will take his petition to cities through out the sprawling Eighth District over the next two weeks. He’s beginning his campaign this morning on Duluth’s favorite tourist attraction, the Lakewalk.


An inconvenient fate

Vic again. Once a great skeptic about whether human activity has boosted global warming Vic seems to have slowly tipped over to accept that’s its true. He’s still a skeptic though.

This morning he sent me this column by Newseek’s, prescient, economic reporter Robert Samuelson. Samuelson predicts that humans being humans they will keep polluting the enviornment and only good engineering can save us. He implies that we might find the engineering solution. If we don’t find it we better cancel Federal flood insurance for everyone living within a hundred miles of the present coast.




Tomorrow I will begin asking for people to sign my petition so that my name can be placed in nomination. I’ll probably go to Duluth’s lakewalk and invite the local media to drop by and interview me there. Its close to the several of the television stations and tomorrow may be a slow news day. If they come I’ll get coverage across a third of the Congressional District.

I’ve got my paypal account up but at the moment its not set up to take credit cards. I think I know how to resolve this but its 12:30 now and I ought to try to get a good nights rest.

Lincoln’s law partner Herndon said of Abe his mind was a little machine constantly working on his next political move. I’m much the same. Tonight I came home from a gorgeous display of fireworks over the harbor and a stiring performance of the DSSO (our symphony). Because Claudia is on the DSSO Board we sat in the VIP section. I had thought about taking my new bookmarks to pass out but ruled that out. I’m spending so much time already on the campaign that I need to shield my family from it to the best of my ability. Letting the campaign horn in on our family time would be unfair.

As it is I put my first 5 hours this morning on it. I set it aside and Claudia and I went to Finke’s Strawberry patch to pick two gallons of beautiful berries. We drove back by way of Jay Cooke Park then froze our bounty saving enough for a shortcake for dinner.

After a glass of wine on our return from the concert I spent some time doing to Grams what I did to Oberstar a few days ago. I think I’ve organized a simple and compelling argument to keep him out of Congress. That’s good timing because I’ll be passing out my bookmarks for the first time tomorrow and I want people to see both of the front runners for what they are. And drat! One of the folks I’ve been trying to entice to help me pointed out that I’ve got an “Its” when I should have an “It’s” in the bookmark. I emailed back that I hoped that there weren’t too many English majors in the District because I had just printed up 40,000 of the wrong pronoun.


A drug debate

Vic and another reader took issue with my reply to Vic: The other correspondent suggested that I look to Alaska as an example of a state where, apparently, lots of people smoke grass and nobody does anything about it. My first thought was flippant”- “What! A good Republican state that doesn’t care if its citizens smoke pot!!!” Vic’s riposte to me explains why this could be:

“I suggest that our streets (and homes and persons) are not safe, and that they would be safer without our idiotic drug laws, because then there wouldn’t be black-market prices for drugs, there wouldn’t be robberies and burglaries (and worse) for drugs, and there wouldn’t be gang-banging for the purpose of maintaining drug territories. Booze, too, is troublesome for our society, but I suggest that because of the repeal of prohibition, booze is less troublesome than it was during prohibition, and it is less troublesome than the drugs that are the subject of our idiotic drug laws. Vic”

I mostly agree with Vic. As a child of the “me generation” I went for a couple years getting stoned nearly every weekend. For a short period it was closer to four or five nights a week. I even experimented with amphetamines for a few months. I’m aware of the lure of mind-altering drugs. Today I’ve become a poor-man’s wine snob.

I’ve never tried heroin, cocaine or meth-amphetamines. I can imagine a time when a potent enough strain of marijuana, which is already much more potent than the stuff I smoked thirty years ago, could become a menace through hybridization. I would be happy to let doctors prescribe marijuana’s THC to give sick people an appetite. I know from personal experience that it works. I’d be happy to let doctors prescribe heroin to people suffering great pain. But the three other drugs I mentioned are far greater threats to people and society. I’ve come to buy the conservative argument about gateway drugs. If we were going to legalize marijuana I’d want it regulated as strictly if not more so than liquor.

It’s often argued that motorcycle riders should have the freedom to choose to ride without helmets. It’s also argued that it’s not fair for society to cover the medical expenses of injured riders who have lifelong brain injuries because of their choice to be free. I agree with both positions. This is just one more example of why the middle ground appeals to me. People are often wrong only when they insist that the people who disagree with them are wrong.

A word of warning for the Grassroots Party – marijuana legalization is not my top priority. If I’m elected to Congress I’d probably be content to speak candidly about marijuana law reform and leave it at that.

As for our prison populations. . . As a former school board member I was always unhappy that we were willing to pay the much more exorbitant expenses of 24-hour-a-day jailing than for a good 8-hour-a-day education. The little Republican under my new Democratic skin is appalled at this.

Vic’s Challenge

My email buddy Vic who has sent me interesting items for years recently read my gushing praise for the “This I believe” segment sticking up for the middle.

“And where is “the middle” for would-be Representative Harry Welty regarding our drug laws? The idiocy of prohibition revisited, which is what we have; or decriminalization and treatment? ‘the greatest freedom’, with everyone being prohibited from toking, and with almost half of our prison populations existing because of those idiotic drug laws?”

One advantage I have over Grams and Oberstar is that as someone not dependent on a political party I can be candid without fear of outraging the party I depend on. So here goes, Vic. You’re right. We’ve put millions of Americans in jail over the last decade for drug crimes and made our streets momentarily safe. We did not try to rehabilitate these folks. Some states, like California, skimped so much on their vast, chaotic prison systems that they are out of control; little more than gang-breeding programs. And last week there was the terrible shoot-out by prison guards of FBI agents who were about to arrest them for the business-like way the guards solicited sex from female inmates. A guard killed an agent.

Now this prison population is poised to flood back into the streets as their sentences reach their conclusion. Our get-tough drug policies have only created bitter graduates who will wreak havoc on the streets.

I’m not eager to make America a Netherlands-like land of pot heads but our punitive drug laws are and have been stupid for years. Now we are facing another terrible drug, methamphetamine. Maybe, since it is ravaging a rural white populataion instead of black inner city neighborhoods our leaders will be motivated to rethink our drug laws. I know if I’m elected I will be prepared to change them from the ground up.

As a proponent of the middle I think it’s fitting to ease up on the most draconian laws but I’m also willing to put hurdles in the way of free and unimpeded drug recreation.

Gerald Heaney Retires

Gerald Heaney was interviewed by MPR’s Stephanie Hemphill for Voices of Minnesota. Heaney has an laudatory past but he’s also a key figure in the story I’m writing about the destruction of Don Boyd.

When I first moved to Duluth 33 years ago Republicans in particulary spoke of him in hushed tones. He was their nemesis and they regarded him as the power behind the area’s political scene. Its not surprising that he figures into the Boyd scandal when his old friend Senator Hubert Humphrey was in a position to be badly embarrassed.

Another sign that the Duluth School District is on the right path

I recently heard a story which confirmed a long held belief. People who are being watched are more likely to behave. This has also been confirmed by video cameras placed in cars and directed at drivers. People behind the wheel correct their careless behavior rather than let it be captured on camera.

Of course, doing what is right because it is right rather than doing right because you’ll stay out of trouble is not particularly honorable but just tell that to the person whose gotten hit by a wreckless driver or mugged, raped and cheated because no one was watching.

When I was on the Duluth School Board one of the more troubling incidents involved a rape in a Denfeld High stairwell. The Board talked about getting cameras but was stymied due to their prohibitive expense. Apparently this roadblock has been lifted. Way to go Duluth Schools!

Can’t sleep so I’ll work on the campaign

I got to bed at about eleven but tossed and turned for a couple hours. Rather than continue I got up and put some finishing touches on the Oberstar page of my campaign website. Anyone questioning how I can claim to be a Democrat while running as an Independent will have to ask themselves how Oberstar can claim to be a Democrat.

I’m going to try and get some shuteye now because I’ve got a busy day tomorrow. At 7:45 I’m putting in my first shift as a news reader at the Lighthouse for the the blind. Two of us will be reading the daily news from local papers for two hours over a radio for blind listeners.

At noon I’m having lunch with a potential campaign manager and then I have to figure out why I couldn’t finish installing the paypal donation system today.

Next I have to pick up my campaign bookmarks and then I need to make copies of my first fund raising letter.

Finally, after that, I’ll have to prepare my news release and plot my travels to get signatures on my nominating petition.

Such a busy fellow. I wonder what I could do in Congress?

Tentative organizing

In every campaign I’ve been a candidate (there are 11 of these) and in a dozen more in which I was the principal cheerleader I’ve also been the campaign manager. I do the job well but its very tough to be both manager and candidate.

Until a couple days ago I was thinking in terms of challenging Jim Oberstar as a last hurrah. I saw lots of possiblitites for the right candidate to pull off a win but I just didn’t imagine that I would be that candidate. Now, I think I could be.

I asked one person to me by treasurer two weeks ago and have not heard back. That should be taken as a “no” but if I could put more of a campaign organization together that could change to a yes. Even if it doesn’t the Paypal account I’m planning to set up this afternoon should allow me to keep close enough track of donor information to make being the temporary treasurer managable for me for a month or two.

I fired off three email requests for help yesterday and two bore immediate fruit. I’m meeting with a potential campaign manager tomorrow and after that meeting I’ll check in with my other positive reply. Suddenly I’m not so all alone.


Blog Metamorphosis

As of today loyal readers, whoever you are, this blog has undergone a change from caterpillar to butterfly or, depending on your point-of-view, vice versa. For the past four months I’ve posted things that interested me but which were heavily drawn from other sources. I will not give up on this entirely but as the last week has demonstrated getting wrapped up a consuming project really distracts a blogger from scanning the internet for newsy items, insightful opinion and my favorite – hoots. I’ve started a mad four-month dash to the November election and I won’t have time to vacuum the news. I’ll still be blogging but lincolndemocrat will turn into more of a campaign diary than a political blog.

As long ago as 1976 when I was a 26-year-old kid running for the state legislature I imagined myself writing a regular column about what I saw daily as a legislator. Although I kept running for office I didn’t finally get elected to anything until 1995 almost twenty years later. By then I realized that no newspaper would print one elected official’s daily observations. But then a wonderful invention became available – the World Wide Web with a whole assortment of new communication tools. Long before blogs people began experimenting with public diaries. When I finally got a dial-up connection and discovered this I was halfway through my school board experience. I realized immediately how I could make that ambition from my youth possible and I began my “school board diary.” I was a faithful diarist for a year but, for a variety of reasons, I quit. Short lived political diaries of one sort or another succeeded the first but they too winked out.

Apparently, I’ve been drifting slowly to a new ambition to replace politics – writing. I’m still drawn to politics but more so as a writer than a practitioner. I want people to have the chance to see the political world from the inside. I’ve gotten 200 pages into Caro’s fabulous 1,000-page book about LBJ’s Senate years. What I wouldn’t give to write something like that. Well, its too late for that. Caro has already devoted thirty years to the LBJ story and he still has one book left to go. Anything I do will be much more modest – like my school board diary.

An elected bodies are more mysterious to people than what happens to their children during junior high. That’s because everyone has been in junior high and can imagine what their children are experiencing. Elected bodies, which seem to pull decisions out of thin air after a series of posturing speech”…well that really is mysterious. Fortunately or unfortunately the speeches are usually so anesthetizing that people stop watching and rely on the next day’s headlines to sort out what happened.

Well, this is just a long-winded way of saying that I’m going to devote the lion’s share of this blog to my Congressional campaign. I’ve been planning to run since before I wrote a snarky column about Jim Oberstar last November. To my surprise that column led me to Don Boyd and Don Boyd led me to a historical research project that I can’t really do justice to as a candidate for public office. In fact, because the project seems to involve the fellow I’m trying to unseat my motives must be questioned. But I can’t help myself. I think I’ve stumbled onto a story about how Minnesota’s politics of the late 1960’s and 1970’s was riddled with corrupt practices. This is history which should be investigated by a writer who is not contaminated with political ambition. For the next few weeks the story has to be put on hold. I have ten days to get 1,000 signatures on a petition to put me on the ballot. I also need to start alerting voters to a very interesting 3-way race for Congress. I intend to win if it is at all possible.

As time permits I will continue writing more about Don Boyd’s ruination at the hands of a political machine whose brightest leaders aspired to great nobility. In Watergate’s dark aftermath this machine successfully covered their own misbehavior when threatened with exposure. They did this by sacrificing an innocent scapegoat to federal prison. This at least is what I am beginning to believe took place. Its a story that should be told by someone else but for now I’m the only story teller that Don Boyd has.

Thirty years ago he was smeared so badly that no one, not his friends and probably not even his family, could imagine that he was completely innocent. It is hard to believe but that is what I’m coming to believe. If this is true then I’m deeply offended by this miscarriage of justice. In an odd way this story is a terrible distraction from my Congressional campaign but at the same time its given me a tremendous motivation. Nothing animates me so as a hunt for the truth.

Harry’s been strangely silent

And there is a good reason. Harry has been madly getting things ready to file for Congress. As if you hadn’t figured that out from all the not so subtle clues I’ve been dropping.

I’ve got my webpage up. I haven’t formally announced yet but I will soon. I still have to choose from the fundraising software available but I’ll probably use a PayPal account.

There’s been a lot in the news I would have commented on had I not been so busy but that’s life.

Oh, the new website is (typos and all): www.welty4congress.org

Storming Washington

I’ve been very busy; too busy to post yesterday. I’ve been puttering around with a campaign website which I’ll soon be uploading. I’ve just ordered the domain name. There aren’t too many candidates named Welty, thank goodness. I just ordered a taxpayer identification number for my committee of one and yesterday put in a rush order for campaign literature. I’ve been sending a flurry of emails back and forth over its layout. Today I need to open a campaign banking account. Filing for office begins the day after July 4th. I will need to get a thousand signatures on a petition of nomination. I did it all by myself in four day in 1992. Once I start campaigning I’ll use this blog as my campaign diary.

We left Washington last week just as heavy rainstorms broke out. They flooded the national archives and many other Federal buildings as well as knocking down a 100 year old Elm on the front lawn of the White House. I probably snapped a picture of it when I was there although like everything else on the grounds it was behind bars.

Our friends emailed us about the weather we escaped. I didn’t realize just how serious it was. Amtrak had to be closed down so they couldn’t commute into the Capital. Now if I could just figure out how to storm DC like that.

A modest rebuke to the enemies of the Death Tax

Warren Buffett said this of his massive contribution to the Gates Foundation.

“Neither [late wife] Susie nor I ever thought we should pass huge amounts of money along to our children,” said Warren Buffett, who said he plans to give away his remaining stock holdings after his death but that he has “quite a bit of cash” he still plans to leave to those close to him. “Our children are great,” he told Fortune. “But I would argue that when your kids have all the advantages anyway, in terms of how they grow up and the opportunities they have for education, including what they learn at home – I would say it’s neither right nor rational to be flooding them with money.”

Buffett Gates Free Trade – to help the world’s poor

This post and the resulting discussion are interesting. They are prompted by the remarkable Warren Buffett gift of most of his vast fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. My first two reactions on hearing this were 1. How amazing that Warren doesn’t set up his own foundation to keep his name for posterity. 2. What a testament to the BMG foundation since Buffet is famous for scoping out enterprises which really work.

Since then I’ve heard other comments which minimize the significance of the contribution by comparing the Buffett fortune with all the annual giving in the US or with the amount of money the Federal Government spends and now with this post Free trade has been thrown in for comparison.


The official source for all the blather of the eccentric Harry Welty – Duluth School Board member, off and on, since 1995. He does his best to live up to Mark Twain's assessment: "First God created the idiot. That was for practice. Then he invented the School Board."