Thursday, June 19, 2008

Running for Congress: The Beginnings

When I started this blog, I promised to document my run for Congress as best as possible. It won't be easy to recall all of the exciting elements of the experience and I may over explain some non-sense and under explain some important items. Please leave a comment if there is a hole that needs to be plugged, questions about my story or if you met me somewhere and want to add to my story, please comment. This recap may make me look like a genius or it may prove me to be the average no one I have always insisted that I am. It might help me if I ever wanted to run for office again, or it might hurt me if I ever try to run for office again but I'll at least be as honest and open as I can remember the experience. My perspective of the story might be damaging, embarrassing, insulting or give more credit than is deserved to certain individuals or it might not be any of those things and might leave out important individuals or minimize the importance of some people. In any case, what I will write as my time permits is my experience, from my perspective, and I will preface each entry in my blog on the topic of "Running for Congress" with this same disclaimer, or a like disclaimer if I think it needs to change. Here goes...

Part 1 - The Beginnings
Part 2 - Running for Congress: Getting on the Ballot
Part 3 - Getting on the Sabrin Line
Part 4 - Realization that the Sabrin line meant failure
Part 5 - The Monmouth County GOP Nominating Convention
Part 6 - Meeting the Bloggers
Part 7 - The Middlesex Convention and Meeting my Opponents
Part 8 - Learning How to Campaign
Part 9 - Steve Lonegan Becomes My New Best Friend
Part 10 - Trying to Capitalize on a FEMA/”BEMA” Meeting
Part 11 - The Last of the "Big Events"
Part 12 - The Calleia Murder Trial and the Wrong Priorities in Media
Part 13 - The Door to Door Effort, and Notable Characters
Part 14 - Primary Day, and Night
Part 15 - Random Observations During the Campaign

What follows is a lengthy, but hopefully entertaining and informative story that chronicles my journey to become the next congressman of NJ's 6th congressional district that lasted from March 2008 through June 2008. For most political insiders, this story has probably been repeated to them hundreds, thousands or even millions of times by people like me who were convinced that they were doing the right thing, but had no idea how to do it correctly, or maybe this was all covered in Political Science 101 and I just didn't pay attention while earning a degree in Computer Science. I do not mean to discourage any "average Joe" from running for office, in fact, quite the opposite, I encourage everyone to run for office. If you pay taxes and if you vote, you probably know about as much as the other people who are running for office, don’t sweat it and give it a go. You’ll probably also lose, as I did, and if you work hard and stay dedicated and motivated, you might even have similar experiences as you campaign. Hopefully, after reading about my experience, you will at least know what to expect. I hereby am making the effort to document my experience if not for some humor value, then maybe to provide insight into what experiences some other "average Joe" might have while running for Congress.

My journey "officially" began on March 8th, 2008. I use the term "officially" lightly as I wasn’t wearing a suit, there was no big press release, no press coverage, no campaign headquarters established, no endorsement received, etc – just a simple email to a few people letting them know that I was now a candidate for Congress – whatever that meant.

With no clue what needed to be done, or how to do it, my "announcement" was made in an email, a reply, not even it's own subject, and I didn’t even bother to spell check it so there were the usual typos and spelling mistakes included in my big "announcement".

Date: Sat, 8 Mar 2008 23:38:45 +0000

Well, as Dan made note of, I've decided to go ahead and run for Congress in the 6th district! I've started getting a petition together for myself (I had an independant petition filled out with about 113 names on it but have decided to stick with the Rep party so I need to get back to those people and see if they are reg'd Rs) and have been asking people to sign a Murray Sabrin petition at the same time, two birds one stone. I'm up to 27 signatures just asking family/neighbors in a matter of minutes (litterally). With the rain and work this weekend, I haven't been able to get to any new doors but I'm hoping that good weather next weekend lets me get the minimum 200 signatures I need and 200 more for Murray Sabrin. Ideally, I could get thousands of signatures to turn in come April and bank on word of mouth/press coverage from the signatures to get past the primary. If anyone on the meetup groups wants to circulate a petition for me and/or help spread the word, please let me know. I don't have a website together yet but I should have one together by the end of the week, if not something basic. I'm lead to believe that the establishment is runnign a rich Judge/Lawyer/Career politician as their candidate. I can't compete money wise with the guy or the party and I can't afford to play the party's "buy into our establishment" gimmick as their "events" are on par of $100-$150/per. Talk about "pay to play".... so anyhow, my "strategy" if you will is just to go door to door, beg for a vote, work the angle that I'm not a politician or a bought member of the establishment, I'm "average joe" software engineer who has had pallone as a representative for nearlyu his whole life and sees the career politicians, especially Pallone, as one of many reasons we have problems and believe that since I'm not a puppet for the party, and I'm merely "average joe", my views and opinions will closer represent "the people" than some rich lawyer or politician.

I've been in contact with Joe at the Sabrin camp and he's aware of my intentions. I made a few efforts to reach out to the Monmouth County party reps, who have been unresponsive, and have decided to just bypass them completely in my efforts, in fact, I hope to not have to talk to them at all as it doesn't seem like they represent the party, or the people, I hope to represent.

But for now... back to work.... 19 of 31 of my servers are back online! Working on weekends stinks...
James Hogan

The email was sent to a Ron Paul meetup group I had been part of for a few months from my cubicle at work as we were moving hardware from our old office to the new office late at night. The purpose of the meetup was supposedly to keep Ron Paul supporters organized in their efforts to get Ron Paul elected. Truth is, while most people in the meetup group are decent people, the meetup is actively overwhelmed by just a few individuals, many of whom aren’t Republicans like Ron Paul in any way, shape or form and are either members of the Constitution Party or the Libertarian Party and most of the people never spent a minute of their time trying to distribute Ron Paul information or talk to Republican voters about Ron Paul. The vocal members mostly complained about "media bias", why the Constitution Party is so great (despite where the party steps on freedoms like pornography, free speech, gambling, etc) or why the Libertarian party (which seems to stand for complete anarchy, except for where they want control of everything) and rather than try to get people to support Ron Paul, the Republican, most of the "mouths" who were active on the meetup seemed most interested in getting people to join the Constitution or Libertarian Party. I suspect some Republican Ron Paul supporters took the bait and jumped ship, others just got off of the mailing list after seeing it for what it was and some like me just plowed through trying to ignore the advertisements for the other party and continue to support Ron Paul and his (mostly) Republican platform.

Example 1: An Advertisement to “Ron Paul Republicans” on the Ron Paul Meetup:
From: Calvin H. Wortman
Subject: Vote for Liberty

Friends of Liberty,

I would like to make a second appeal to those Libertarians on this list. Chuck Baldwin, the Constitution Party Presidential nominee, worked closely and tirelessly on the Ron Paul campaign that saw so many of us come together for one cause, LIBERTY. Chuck believes in and cherishes the same goals as Dr. Paul and has come forward to advance those principles in the political arena leading up to the Fall elections. We need to get Chuck on the ballot in all 50 states so that people have a real choice in November. Please help toward that goal by donating generously early and often.

Next, I would like to address some of the objections to our party platform. Yes, we are a party dedicated to restoring the moral foundations that this country once embraced. However, this is widely misunderstood to mean that we will legislate from Washington in those areas best left to state and local governments. For instance our plank on Gambling does not call for imposing laws against gambling, it simply states that governments should not be the sponsors of gambling. We are not going to take away your right to attend your Friday night poker games. Come on folks, we agree on much much more than we disagree on and none of you would suffer under an Executive who when sworn in would actually keep his oath to uphold, honor and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Even Ron Paul when recently asked to endorse Bob Barr, refused to do so citing his relationship to Chuck Baldwin as a supporter and a friend.

This is a time when all Constitutionalists need to work together to restore limited constitutional government in Washington. We need to restore a sound money system, ending the Federal Reserve system, we need to repeal the 16th ammendment and dismantle the IRS replacing it with NOTHING, we need to deregulate the oil industry and tap our resources to increase the worlds oil supply so that the price of gas becomes reasonable once again. These are real goals that we can and should be working together on. Please join with us, as we joined with you during the recent Ron Paul campaign , to bring freedom and liberty to the American public.

In the sincere hope that we can join together for liberty,

Cal Wortman

Example 2: Another Advertisement to “Ron Paul Republicans” on the Ron Paul Meetup:
From: lou jasikoff
Subject: Now we need your help

For those that don't know me please let me introduce myself. I am Lou Jasikoff and I am the chairman for the New Jersey Libertarian Party of New Jersey. I am reaching out to all Ron Paul supporters to help support the Barr/Root/Scheurer ticket this year in New Jersey. Now before we go much further, I know a number of you want to change the Republican party from within, and that of course if fine. What I like you to consider is the Libertarian Party over the next few months for the following reasons;

1. When Ron Paul and his supporters asked Libertarians for help we were there. We were there not because Ron Paul was Republican, but because of the principles he stood for. For many of us, we were on the front lines either at rallies or donating to the cause. Jason Scheurer our Senate candidate this year in New Jersey and countless of Libertarians around the country gave generously or "maxed out" to support the cause and Ron Paul. (easy to confirm). I ask did Zimmer or Lautenberg do the same, or did they support the same establishment candidates we must defeat if real change is to occur.

2. When we were asked to change party affiliation we did. It pained both me and Jason to switch parties but proudly voted for Ron Paul in the primaries. We did it because at the end of the day it does not matter what letter is next to a candidates name, what matters is the ideals and principles of the individual one is voting for.

3. When the Sabrin campaign asked Libertarians to run as part of his ticket we did. Jason was slotted to run, it was only after attending the Mercer County Republican convention did we decide against it. Decided against, because we were not even allowed to address the convention floor. Darren Young a 4 time Libertarian candidate did run on the Sabrin ticket. Once again it was done to advance liberty and not out of allegiance to a political party.

4. When the Asbury Park Press asked what I thought of the Sabrin campaign in a May 22nd interview, I was quoted as follows: His message still resonates with Libertarian leaders. Lou Jasikoff, the party's New Jersey chairman, said the party would consider withdrawing its own Senate candidate if Sabrin wins the Republican nod. "I'm not looking to see whether there's an "L" or "D" or "R" next to their name," Jasikoff said. "It's more important to advance the cause of liberty, and I believe that's what Murray is doing."

5. The Barr/Root/Scheurer campaign is gearing up to run the most active campaign ever in the State of New Jersey. Yesterday, the New Jersey Libertarian Party signed a lease to open its first campaign office right on the Atlantic City boardwalk strategically located between the Hilton and Tropicana resorts. Perhaps the highest trafficked location in New Jersey during the summer we are poised to promote the cause of liberty like never before.

In closing, we need your help, want your help, and actively seek your support to advance the principles of Ron Paul and the Libertarian Party. We have a ticket this year that can change politics as we know it today, returning to the people the freedoms guaranteed us by the Constitution. You don't need to change us from within, as we are you already, just different party affiliates. I urge you to look at the Libertarian Party this year, especially the ticket we have here in New Jersey. With your help and support we can accomplish the unimaginable. I know it is possible.

Thank you for your time, and please feel free to contact anytime.

Lou Jasikoff
570-945-5420 office
570-878-7532 cell
973-752-9164 cell

Despite the number of people on this meetup who were obviously more interested in complaining rather than trying to make a difference, I decided that since I was, and still am, legitimately a Republican and a taxpayer who seeks some level of freedom and lower/less taxes, I would make the effort to run for congress since a number of members of the meetup had claimed they would support me in such an endeavor.

Stay Tuned. Part 2 will be "Getting On the Ballot" which I'll hopefully have time to write over the weekend.

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