I’ve spent the day preparing for a family reunion in California. Because I want to hit the pavement running when I get back on Sunday I’ve been tidying up the accumulation of campaign debris that’s built up in my office.
One chore I’ve been doing today is blocking spam from my blog. Each post has a message box for readers to make comment on. The insidious spamÂ world has discovered that they can jam up the message boxes with tons of links to the websites their promoting; stuff like viagra and downloadable ring tones. It was a tedious several hours but I’ve probably saved myself a lot of work in the future.
A number of intriguing opportunities have arisen in the past two days and I’ve got some important meetings planned for next week which will kick things up a notch. I’ll be taking the laptop with me to Califrnia to check email and the news and update the blog. I’ve subscribed to a new internet clipping service so I’ll know exactly whatÂ the opposition is up to as well as see where I’ve been making headlines. I’m still invisible to Minnesota punditry. On an MPR hour of analysis this afternoon they didn’t even mention the 8th District race. Of course, that reflects poorly on Rod Grams too.
At the moment all eyes are on Matt Entenza’s departure from the race for Attorney General. Who killed him? Was it Mike Hatch? Hmmmmm. Well, he’s a well known back stabber and the two didn’t like each other.
No wonder my Mom didn’t want me to go into politics.
I’m in ecstasy. There are only three candidates for 8th District Congress. That’s what I’ve been hoping for. Now all disaffected voters will be able to focus their votes on a single candidate.
In 1992 when I also ran as an independent for the same office I had to split this vote (which was ten percent of the total) with Floyd Henspetter. My party was the “Perot Choice” party and his was the “Term Limits” party. I got better than 70 % of the none of the above vote but not all of it. In fact, that’s what I jokingly told folks when I gathered my petition signatures. I told them that I was the “none of the above” candidate.
More than in 1992 none of the above will look good to people who want a little purple put back into an America split into Red and Blue.
My blog hits blew through the roof yesterday! Yeah, the filing for office was closed but crimeny, I didn’t do anything special.
See the fundraising letter that Rod Grams sent my wife, Claudia, today. I’ve tried to punch it up a little.
My son took a call for me yesterday from a Grand Rapids pharmacist. I called him back this morning and he told me a tale of woe; how the insurance industry monopoly was nailing him and hisÂ industry to the wall.Â After I’ve researched the anti-monopoly Fair Trade Act of 1941 and set up a travel itinerary we’ll have coffee to talk about it.
Coincidentally my manager sent me a link to Open Secrets which lists Rod Grams’ major contributors for the years he was in the Senate. Coincidentally, the Insurance industry was number two on the list at $186,000.
I asked the fellow how it happened that he’d heard of me and he told me he’d read about me after picking up a Reader Weekly in Grand Rapids. I had no idea they were distributed that far away.
On July 5th, when I began my petitioning I sent an email press release to all the newspapers, radio and TV stations in the District that I could find. A number of the emails were returned because the address was old or faulty. I sent another release today to the same list as before and once again some bounced back to me.
I just asked my new campaign manager to check out each venue and find out what the best way to send them Press Releases. 14 years ago when I ranÂ I did all the press releases by fax. Before that it was by mail. Email todayÂ is soÂ simple but I’m afraid that news editors have email boxes jammed up with newsie stuff. If so they may not give very close scrutiny toÂ all theÂ stuffÂ that passes over their “desk.”
After Chris Grams inquiry about the Lincoln-in-thought t-shirts I added her Little Falls radio stations to the mediaÂ list because I’d missed them before. I noted that the news of her husband Rod’s filing for office was the first item on the list of news stories even though it was already six days old. Well, there are some advantages to owning your own media.
I also sent a copy of my letter to Mary Kiffmeyer to the big three the Pioneer Press, the Strib and the Duluth News Tribune. After I sent it I noticed a mangled sentence toward the end. Tsk tsk….editing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A good day. Not just the sunny temperate weather but the campaign too. I got my fourth contribution which puts me over $150.00. I just need $200 more to pay for the bookmarks. I also was down at Sidewalk days for the morning collecting signatures. I got about 90 of them before heading home to meet my brother and neice when they arrive from the Twin Cities.
They’ll be half an hour late but we’ll rustle up some grub and eat before I send them off to swim at Park Point. I’ve got the beach blankets ready for them.
I’ll still have another three hours to gather signatures which should I match the morningsÂ results will put me withing about 50 of reaching the 1,000 I need. Add in tomorrow’s signatures and I’ll just have to drive to St. Paul to file.
And getting signatures was so much fun. Two of my blog readers looked me up to sign my petitions about an hour apart. They saw I was going to be at the Sidewalk Day’s sale and sure enough they hurried over to sign my petition. Suddenly the souless statistics which show I’ve got about 500 readers a day have two new faces. That’s so cool.
Tremble Mr. Oberstar. Tremble Mr. Grams
I also got an email from the shop owner in Lincoln’s hometown of Springfield about the “Lincoln in thought” shirts. I called her back and we’re going to try to make an arrangement for anyone else who takes a fancy to them to order them through my campaign website. Some of the proceeds go to help out the Springfield’s historic downtown area. I think it would be wonderful if they took off like pet rocks and everybody sported honest Abe.Â Maybe we could sendÂ America on a quest back to one of our greatest champions of unityÂ with malice toward none.
I can’t wait till I get my five new ones. I’m getting tired washing my one Lincoln shirt every night.
Its time I wrap more people into my campaign because while I can juggle three tennis balls, and even four for a short time, I start dropping things beyond that number.
One of my allies pointed out in consternation that my first fundraising letter sent to a paltry 112 people had welty4congress.com on the letterhead. Oops! Its supposed to be dotÂ org. Of course I’ve got the right ending on my 40,000 bookmarks which also went out with the letter butÂ I’ve got too much going on to be trustedÂ to doÂ everything.
Chris, my campaign manager, pointed out that I can purchase the dot com site which I will be doing momentarily and perhaps some others so that people, like me, who inadvertantly forget the web address are still pointed in the right direction. So, I’m off to do that and gather more sigatures. I just found another 10 I hadn’t counted before. Hooray!
Company’s coming so times a wasting.
The Welty campaign by the numbers:
As of this morning, not quite half way through July, the welty4congress home page has had exactly 1000 hits.
I’ve been thwarted so far in having a major publication list my website so that I get a big cross 8th District viewership but since I’m still tinkering with it that’s probably just as well. September and October will be a more critical time period.
I’ve passed out about 2,000 bookmarks. I printed 40,000 bookmarks so at this rate that’s about 20 weeks worth of flyers. Of course, after this week I’ll pass them out faster because I won’t have to stop for petition signings. Furthermore, now that Chris has gotten me a schedule of area events, I’ll be finding thicker crowds to mingle in.
There are about 600,000 residents in the 8th District. About 250,000 of them will vote. By this fall I’ll need a way to reach the folks beyond the reach of my handshake.