Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Suldog For State Rep, Part III

Isn't that a swell shot for the front of my pamphlet? Hands in my pockets. Ugh. Looks like I'm playing pocket pool. "Hnnngghh. Hnnngghh. Vote for me, Lady. Hnnngghh."

If you have no idea what this has to do with anything, see Part One and further unto that, Part Two, after which you'll be no more knowledgeable than you were before, but at least you'll be on a level plain of confusion with the rest of us.

So, I came home and told MY WIFE that I was running for office. To her eternal credit, she didn't do this---->

... but, instead, became one of my most valuable campaign assets, contributing her time, money, skills and ideas, without complaint and with a maximum of grace. She was just amazing in her support of this harebrained and quixotic quest, and I still owe her big time.

So, now we come to the actual running of a campaign. What is the first thing that has to be done in any campaign? Finding out who has the money and fleecing them as quickly and expertly as possible. No, no. That's just a joke. Kind of.

What really has to be done is to actually get onto the ballot. And that's done by collecting signatures from registered voters. This was... I'm searching for the right sentiment here. Fun? No, that's not it. Hard work, but worth it in the end? That's closer, but still not what I'm looking for. A tremendous pain in the ass that I wouldn't ever want to undertake again, similar to having my head on fire and finding out that the only way to put it out is by going door-to-door and asking people to piss on me? I think that's about right. Yeah, let's go with that.

I'll mention here that, by state law at that time, anyone could sign my papers. It didn't matter if they were registered as a Democrat, a Republican, a Libertarian, or under any other category. So long as the person was a registered voter, they could sign and be counted towards the number I needed.

It was amazing to me how many folks wouldn't give up a crummy signature. It would cost them nothing but a few strokes of a pen (which I provided) and less than a minute of their time. And, by signing my nomination papers, they were not endorsing my candidacy or pledging me their support in any way. I didn't campaign while collecting the signatures. I didn't tell anyone anything about myself or my political views unless I was asked for particulars. I stated that I was trying to get onto the ballot as a candidate for state rep and that I needed 150 (valid) signatures to do so. I was well-dressed and mannerly. I apologized for taking up their time and I explained how much I'd really appreciate it if they'd help. I also explained that it was just a formality of election law, and that their signing in no way obligated them to either me or my campaign. You would have thought, by the reactions of some folk, that I was asking them for a meal and a place to sleep for the night and, oh by the way, can I nail your daughter before going to bed?

To be truthful (and I try to be so, which is one reason why I didn't win) I did meet some nice folks who were more than willing to sign my papers. One or two even called their spouses or kids in from the other room to get them to add their John Hancock to the form. These folks I remember with gratitude. However, some people just slammed the door in my face or even cursed me. Quite disheartening.

I tried collecting signatures at the Mattapan trolley station one morning. That was a hard lesson in political reality, let me tell you. It would take the fingers on both of my hands, as well as a fair amount of toes, to tally up how many people told me that they were registered voters, but they couldn't sign my papers because they were registered as Democrats. These weren't people who didn't want to sign my papers because they were Democrats, but poor souls (immigrants, judging from their accents) who truly believed that, by registering as Democrats, they were unable by law to sign the papers of anyone who wasn't a Democrat. The natural inference from this is that they also believed that they couldn't vote for anyone aside from Democrats. Now, I wonder how these people became registered as Democrats and how they came to hold this mistaken belief? Three guesses and the first two don't count. I did my level best to give these folks a brief and polite lesson in civics, but I don't know if more than one or two of them actually understood.

Well, as you've probably guessed (since this wouldn't be much of a story if it was any other outcome) I did get the signatures (and I was helped by my team in this - I don't want to give the impression that I did it all by myself) and I turned them in to the Secretary Of State's office. They validated way more than the 150 I needed, and I was now officially on the ballot, becoming the first candidate for State Representative in the history of the state of Massachusetts to be on the ballot with the designation "Libertarian" aside his name. I sent "thank you" notes to all of the folks who were kind enough to sign my petitions and whose signatures were validated.

I then met with my campaign team and began devising ways for spreading the word concerning my candidacy. It was time to plot our advertising strategy and get my name into as many minds as possible. Now, it was time to fleece some money from people!

(continued tomorrow)

Go to Part IV

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great stuff. I know a tiny bit about door to door. I had to try and support myself that way for a while, years ago. Of course it was an entirely different outing than you describe, but I suspect people are generally a bit suspicious and less-than-welcoming when you make them open their door to you. I was collecting donations for an environmental cause. You would have thought I was asking people to put out their hand so I could smear a tad of pox across their palm. So I do know the feeling.

It's pretty far-out that its that simple to get started in politics. Encouraging for those who might want to travel that route.

I like my own stories like that—like this one. Unexpected adventure. Even when it doesn't end up in "success," or rather, what we thought would be the end point. They add so much to us, as people. And they provide a great basis if we ever want to lie it up into a memoir and sell tons. Wink, wink.