I was not happy to discover some uncertainty in the Secretary of State’s Office about exactly what it would take for a signature to count on my petition. I sent her and some members of the press this letter.
When I got back from my second trip to Secretary of State Kiffmeyer to turn in even more petitions I was surprised to find an email from Chris Grams who, I believe, is the Senator’s significant other. She asked where she could buy two Lincoln t-shirts. I sent her off to the home page of Â www.welty4congress.org. It would be cool if the Oberstar folks did the same. That would be better thanÂ asking me to remove graphics from my blog.
I’ve been counting and recounting my petition signatures. Because the Secretary of State may be treating this like a first grade teacher grades a handwriting worksheet I’ve gottenÂ a little paranoid. Had I turned in my petition next Tuesday instead of Friday I’m sure she would have found more than 140 of my signatures invalid and I wouldn’t have made the ballot.
On Friday, upon returning from St. Paul, I looked up the phone numbers of about 110 people who only listed their year of birth as “50” or “29” or “86.” While it seemed obvious to me that they meant 1950 and 1929 and 1986 I’d been warned that that might not cut it. IÂ foundÂ phone numbers listed in the directory for about half these people. I’veÂ contacted about 40 of these signers and the numbers checked. Only one person had put down their age instead of the year of birth. In every caseÂ all the signersÂ would have been 18 either way.
The petition clearly states that everything on the petitition must be filled in by the signer unless disability prevents them. Since I’ve just written in the 19 on these petitions I can imagine that the forty names I’ve recovered could be disqualified. I hope that the inability to reach through a telephone line will be considered one form of disability.
In addition many people who live in Duluth did not put down St. Louis County as their county of residence even though its the only county Duluthians live in. For all I know some of them may not have known the county and were too embarassed to ask. It couldÂ cost meÂ another slug of signatures if the Secretary of State objects. Not counting the absence of a County or the number 19 on the year of birth I should have 1,171 legitimate signatures. That’s about 111,Â I can’t count on.
I should be able to turn themÂ tomorrow without fear but tomorrow I’ll collect another fifty or sixty in the morning to be on the safe side before driving back to St. Paul.
Chris Correia is my new campaign manager. I’ve known Chris and his family for a long time and when he sent me an email a few weeks ago I realized he’d be somebody who could vouch for me from personal experience. I asked him if he would consider taking on the unenviable task of managingÂ an unruly candidate. He sent me a list of issues where he thought we disagreed so that I wouldn’t presume we walked in lock step. Yup, we disagree but this is not a problem.
Chris was playing bass during our outdoor church service at the Lester River Park today. The Presbyterian church isÂ principally where I’ve known Chris. He worked for our city’s Central Hillside United Ministry for years which helps the poor, homeless and transient population in Duluth.
He also is a small businessman who runs a martial arts center in Cloquet, Minnesota. Over the past six months we’ve attended a men’s discussion group at our church biweekly except that I keep missing it to attend to miscellaneous projects. Chris is a thoughtful man and after reading my comments about Senator Grams being an “ambitious” and “self-righteousÂ prig” he emailed back a little taken aback at my vehemence. I told him that the voters want civility but they don’t want milquetoasts to represent them.
Vic responded to my last post on the impeachment and sent me a 2003 article from from the New Yorker on the late Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s jaded views on Clinton.
Whatever the Senator thought about Clinton’s perjury the story’s author made this observation about moderate Republicans which the DeLay faction has brought to near extinction:
“Moynihan’s closest friends in the Senate include aging symbols of moderate Republicanism, itself a vanishing political phenomenon. “You’d be amazed how easy it is to get along with Republicans of a certain kind,” Moynihan told me. Over the years, for example, he has worked closely with John Chafee, who now chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee. “Not long ago, in the committee, John announced that we’d just had a vote that came out purely on party lines, and he said, ‘That’s not how we work here.’ But I’m afraid that, more and more, it is.”
This new extremist party is the party that Rod Grams feels at home in.
Vic challenges my latest posting?“I don’t remember that any of the articles of impeachment were for Clinton cheating on his wife. However, perhaps you know what Grams’ motivations were for voting for those articles.”Vic’s right. The bills of impeachment were for perjury and obstruction of justice. I wrote so a few posts ago. The infidelity was, however, what the Republicans seized on in their attack on Bill Clinton’s “slickness.” Their most loyal constituency could hang on the legitimate if questionable perjury and obstruction of justice claims as a high crimes and misdemeanors after Ken Starr worked overtime to prove Clinton’s many sexual improprieties. Clinton lied no question, but the Republicans in Congress were absolutely politically tone deaf to the majority of Americans because they viewed Clinton as a political threat.Why a political threat? Because Clinton shrewdly read the American public’s desire for centrist policies, many borrowed from the Republican party. Tom Delay and company calculated that to stamp out the Democrats they needed to rid the Democrats of a politically appealing centrist. Sure enough since Clinton’s departure the Democrats have shifted to the left and thus their chances of winning back Congress are badly compromised.So, Clinton was impeached because his centrism threatened the future of the Republicans. The delicious irony was the discovery of a dozen Republican Congressman who voted for the impeachment who also had hidden sexual escapades of their own. No, they hadn’t lied about it under oath after a multimillion dollar investigation by a partisan federal prosecutor but pushed into a corner who knows whether they too might have emulated “slick” Willie?Maybe Rod Grams isn’t a prig. Maybe. But tsk tsking the current Republican leadership in Congress for their “backbiting” strikes me as gross political hypocrisy.
I was sent this nonsense article in which Rod Grams offers himself as an antidote to the partisan miasma in Congress. The biggest hoot is this:
“This ankle biting political pandering in Washington has to stop,” Grams said. “I’ve talked to a lot of people both before and since declaring my candidacy, and the public doesn’t appreciate it. That’s never been the way I conduct business, and it won’t be the way I conduct my campaign.”
This is the same doofus who voted to remove Bill Clinton for cheating on his wife with another woman. The only high crime and misdemeanor here was the reprise of the damnable trial of Andrew Johnson in 1864 which was another blackmark on our political history. Rod Grams is no Edmund Ross. He’s just an ambitious, self righteous prig pretending to a statesmanship his partisanship would crush at the first opportunity.
I headed out early toÂ collect more signatures before it heated up too much. By the time I opened my second bottle of cold water it was already hot and so was I. But I collected another 130 signatures. I tried to guarantee that no one would forget to put down the year of birth by filling in “19” in each column for the year of birth. When I got home I discovered that even so 12 people had not filled in the date. Vanity I suppose.
This may be enough to get me over the tough scrutiny of the Secretary of state but I intend to call about 60 of the 90 people who didn’t fill in the blank previously. Then, because I’m getting a little paranoid, I’ll solicit more new signatures Monday morning before driving to St. Paul. I’ve already decided to forgoe attending a little business retreat with my wife at a resort in Brainerd. A lot of the people I’ve talked to are counting on me to put up a serious fight and I can’t let them down.
I woke up just before first light in anticipation of beating the worst of the day’s heat. I’ll try to begin petititoning around 8AM. Checked my various website and blog statistics. There is a slow trending upwardsÂ for all of themÂ which is heartening.
A new blog (not much of one yet) has linked to me and its commentators are reporting that I’m a far leftist. They are also pretty dismissive of my Duluth School Board credentials. I sent them a post. They’ll have to OK it firstÂ but I’m sure they willÂ because they don’t seem to like “sissies” who are afraid of give and take and take that! and that! and that!………My reply to their post isÂ not up yet but you can see the comments they made about me here.
ItsÂ so nice to be noticed.
I can findÂ no requirement inÂ state statute for signers to write the year of their birth on a candidate filing petitions:
204B.07 Nominating petitions.
Â Â Subd. 4.Â Â Oath and address of signer.Â Following the information required by subdivisions 1 and 2 and before the space for signing, each separate page that is part of the petition shall include an oath in the following form:Â Â
Â Â Â “I solemnly swear (or affirm) that I know the contents and purpose of this petition, that I do not intend to vote at the primary election for the office for which this nominating petition is made, and that I signed this petition of my own free will.”Â
Â Â Â Notarization or certification of the signatures on a nominating petition is not required.Â Immediately after the signature, the signer shall write on the petition the signer’s residence address including street and number, if any, and mailing address if different from residence address.Â
Furthermore, when my petitions were given a quick perusal after I handed them over I was shown a list of things the Secretary of State demanded be on the petitions. I was notÂ given this list a few weeksÂ earlier when I was given the petition form by the office staff. In fact, when I was first given the petition form I was specificly warned to read the law before making up my petitions and not rely on the sample petition I was given. Well, the law’s language is clear. There is no mention of collecting a signer’s year of birth. If I have heat stroke this weekend I will blame the Secretary of State who seems to believe that it is her job to police the polls and candidates as though she were Dick Cheney. I’llÂ bet she’d like a national identity card. Maybe she issued a signing statement when the petition law was passed saying what the law meant.
I headed to St. Paul with 140 extra names to give me a safe cushion. Just before I slipped onto the highway I was stopped behind a car with two bumperstickers. The first quoted the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi 2:3 – “Behold I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your face.” The second said: “Atheists make lousy suicide bombers.” I laughed but that was before the dung.
At the Secretary of State’s office the same young fellow who gave the forms took a look through the filled out forms I handed himÂ and warned me that the people who had just put two digits like, 59, in the column for their year of birth might not be counted. That’s because it wasn’t possible to tell whether they meant that they were 59 years old or born in 1959. I protested that either way they were obviously over the age of 18. I was told that if I turned them in today I couldn’t just come in a day or two later with the rest of the names I needed if it turned out I was a few short. I’d have to start all over with only a day or two left before the deadline. It was turn them in now and take a chance that they would all be disqualified or come in after the weekend with enough signataures to make the whole petition count. I spent a few minutes and counted roughly 90 such two-digit signatures in the year of birth column.
I made a point of tellingÂ the people who signed my petitionÂ that they had to be eighteen so it was frustrating to face the prospect of returning home and adding more names but I had no choice. I knew that there were about twenty names that wouldn’t count. That left my cushion at only about thirty signatures.
I called Claudia and told her I wouldn’t be able to join her in Grand Rapids on Monday because I’d be driving back to the Secretary of State’s office. Now IÂ needÂ to gather another hundred signatures to give myself a bigger margin. Its going to be baking hot tommorw. Dung upon my face indeed.
WhileÂ Claudia andÂ IÂ watched the PBS Friday news shows we searched phone books for the phone numbers of the two digit people on my list. I’ll try to call them and get their year of birth to add to the petition. I found phone numbers for about 60 of the 90 two digit signers.
I have to remember to channel my irritation into working my tush off.
Its kind of like watching goldfish in a fishbowl only more surreal.
Just popped back home to change into shorts. I’ve collected about 1,140 signatures which should be more than enough to make up for the ones that will be disqualified.
There was a phone message waiting for me. One of my readers wanted to sign the petition but he lived twenty miles north and I’ve got to hurry south so I assured him I had things covered.
Also talked with some videographers. I’m planning my new videos. Just have to raise a little money to start working on them. Its a sunny day and that’s a good omen.
I try to check out the Cassini mission to Saturn several times a week. NASA’s wonderful webpage keeps posting new daily images of the Saturnian system. This page about Mimas has a listing at the bottom of all 35 known Saturnian moons. Anyone wishing to escapeÂ our recentÂ heatwave could take a few minutes to see what its like in a little colder part of the universe.
I recommend taking a look Enceledas and its gallery of NASA pictures. By all means click the pictures to see them enlarged
Another milestone – sort of. I found my first email in the box for online contributions. Sorry to say the subject line said “website correction” and not “you got money!” A reader, Marsha, who described herself as an editor in her “secret life” pointed out that I had mispelled, environmental, in the categories list to the right “enviornmental.”
I wrote back that in my “real life” I’ve been the pronouncer at our regional spelling bee for the past decade. I added that it was a good thing I only pronounced the words.
I live and die by my spellchecker. Since I haven’t got one in this blog readers will see my editing weaknesses here at their most glaring.
This recent posting from an Iraqi blogger who once welcomed Americans gives me reason to reconsider my sense that we should stay in Iraq to help avert civil war.
I’ve talked to too many people to remember all the neat little anecdotes I could report about my petitioning.
A couple people asked me to run for Mayor. I told them “no thanks.” I added that Duluth needed someone with the courage to make people mad at him. I’ve already done enough of that on Duluth’s School Board.
Don (formerly Donny) Ness, a Duluth City Councilor who works for Oberstar, gave me a big smile when he saw me downtown yesterday. “What are you doing to me?” he yelled with feigned anguish. Of course,Â Don doesn’t take my threat against the CongressmanÂ seriously. That’s one of the big advantages that I have. (The day that the Declaration of Independence was signed King George wrote in his diary: “Nothing of significance happened today.”) I handedÂ Don a bookmark and told him I might be needing someone to manage my Congressional affairs after the election.
Today I spent a long while (that probably cost me 10 signatures) talking to someone who rushed over when he realized I was the spouse of a Minnesota Power Exec.Â This fellowÂ has been writing perceptive letters-to-the-editor complaining about Minnesota Power’s unwillingness to fight theÂ snake oil,Â coal gassification, electric power generator that Tom Michelletti has been selling. Tom has sold Senator Norm Coleman, Governor Tim Pawlenty and the entire Iron Range DFL delegation on this boondoggle. they have paved the way with assinine legislation that the tax payers will likely have to pick up when the project imploads.Â
Colman engineered a whoppingÂ $800,000 million federal “loan” to buildÂ this supposedly,Â enviornmentally, sensitive electric generation plant.Â Too bad the enviornmental community distrusts the technology.
Governor PawlentyÂ who is sharing Coleman’s invisible robeÂ has beenÂ telling everyone what a great deal it is. Of course, these guys all thoughtÂ George Bush’sÂ Iraq war was a great idea too. I guess the Bush administration was so grateful for their support and so indifferent to our ten trillion dollars national deficit that throwing away another near billion onÂ this snake oil was no big deal.
Its a red letter day. After enduring parking lot heat on a 86 degree day I’ve got 1065 signatures. Subtract at least 25 that I have doubts about and I still have 1040. I’ll add another 60 to this tomorrow morning to give me a cushion of 100 signatures. I think I turned in 1,097 in 1992. That was a really heroic one man effort. I did it in four and a half days. Its taken me eight days to match that this time. Gee, I had stamina to spare back then.
Its been delicious day in many ways. I came home to discover two signatures on a petition stuck in the door that had been printed off from my website. That’s just like the two folks yesterday who read about me being at Sidewalk days on the blog and who then came down to sign the petition. It shows me the Internet could haveÂ a power to connect me to voters which was imposible for me in 1992. Maybe I can raise money through the internet without bankrupting myself on bulk mailings.
I discovered my five “Lincoln in thought” t-shirts at home too. Now I won’t have to wash my single one every night. Abe Lincoln is a wonderful symbol.Â His pictureÂ puts people in a positive frame of mind even when they see me approaching them with clipboards. I’d estimate that half or better of the people I ask signed my petition. Many who weren’t eligible felt badly about it. Many cheered me on because I was going to be an independent. Of the 2,000 I talked to only a dozen or less said they were fans of Jim Oberstar. Fewer said they were Grams fans. Everyone seemed to like my talk about finding common ground. Hundreds knew who I was before I even introduced myself including the fellow at the Post Office when I went to pick up my t-shirt packageÂ even thoughÂ I was wearing sun glasses. He didn’t even demand identification.
This is very cool.
Tonight I’ll fill out the State campaign forms and over the weekend I’ll finish up the federal forms as well. I may even have time to stop in and see my Mother tomorrow.
Its going to be hot today but I’ll still put on jeans to campaign. Somehow I can’t picture a potential congressman in shorts and I don’t think potential consituentsÂ can either.
I’ll head out in half an hour. I’m waiting to see my guests offÂ for theirÂ short tour of Gooseberry Falls. James tells me his Massachusettes Mother read the book “Seventeenth Summer” fifty times as a girl. I’ve never heard of the book but it was a romanceÂ that was set in Duluth. I hope his reports on his visit hear fulfill his Mother expectations.
I’m heading out to Sidewalk Days again. The shadows of our downtown will protect me till the sun crests them around noon. I expect a call from my brother then when he’s twenty minutes away from Duluth on his return. I’ll take a break and meet them at home and fix some sandwiches. This last minuted hubbub will cost me a few signatures but I head out again after lunch and gather some more. I’ll do it again tomorrow morning if necessary before taking them to St. Paul. I should be an official candidate by the weekend.