Thursday, June 26, 2008

Running for Congress: Meeting the Bloggers

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 - Running for Congress: 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

While the woman who told me “the system works” at the convention almost broke my spirit right then and there, my determination lived on and the following day, I recapped my experience at the convention in a comment reply to a PolitickerNJ thread.
My experience with the Monmouth County GOP
posted by JamesHogan

So on Tuesday, I received an email from the Monmouth County GOP
mailing list which had a heading stating:
Reminder - MCRC Nominating Convention
The Monmouth County Republican Committee Nominating Convention to be
held at the VFW, 1 Veterans Lane, Port Monmouth (Rt. 36 S. just below
Wilson Avenue, just below Super Foodtown & Dunkin Donuts).
Wednesday, March 26, 2008 from 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.
For Information contact Kathleen at 908-770-7335

Trying to "do the right thing" as a responsible candidate who has his petition (200+ signatures) completed and in order, I did, as the email would suggest, call Kathleen at the number provided on Wednesday March 26, at 1:19pm. There was no answer so I left a polite, and clear, message explaining that my name was James Hogan and I am a candidate for the US House of Representatives in the 6th District and would like more information on how I can be afforded a minute to address the convention tonight (last night). At 3:34pm, Kathleen returned my call and it was among the most awkward and disheartening phone calls I have ever received.

First, she asked to speak with Brian Unger (who happens to be a - Green Party I believe - city counsel member in my hometown of Long Branch, but Unger sounds nothing like Hogan, so I'm not sure where her confusion comes from) - but since I recognized the phone number, I was reasonably sure that she was indeed trying to call me back and explained to her "no, you've reached James Hogan, I'm a candidate for US House of Representatives in the 6th district - I left you a message earlier". She was incredibly confused so I repeated who I was and asked how I would be able to get a minute to address the convention as I have my petitions in order, am a Republican and this is the first time I'm running for a public office so I'm not sure of all the procedures. It was at this point that Kathleen informed me that I would NOT be allowed to address the convention because I missed the screening a month ago and only candidates who have been screened were allowed to address the convention. No problem, or so I thought, I would just ask for an immediate phone screening; surely if the Monmouth County Republicans can phone screen Andy from Colorado on hours notice, they could do the same for me, right? Not so; I was told that Andy is a party member, to which I reminder her that I too am a registered republican and unlike Andy I have my petitions completed and prepared to be turned in and there are at least 200 republicans who like my message and might want to vote for me. Again, she informed me that I would not be permitted to address the crowd and that they COULD NOT do a screening for me, it was just too late. There was silence on the line as I was pretty sure that the democratic process was not supposed to work this way and even more convinced that I deserved at least a minute, if not just for the time and effort I took to reach 200+ voters in two weeks time, and get their signatures, and even "convert" a few democrats, so I asked if I could at least attend the event and she implied that everyone was invited but I wouldn't be permitted to vote or circulate a petition inside and there wouldn't be a benefit to showing up.

Needless to say, I showed up. I got there at exactly 6pm and stood outside until the last few people were leaving, two and half hours later, at around 8:30pm - asking each and every person to sign my petition on their way in or out. Aside from one incredibly rude woman (who I don't have a name for) who told me that I shouldn't even bother because "the system works", most of the actual members who live in the district were at least willing to follow the democratic process and sign my petition of nomination, but no one offered to invite me inside and give me even just a minute, I'd of settled for 30 seconds if I had to. I did speak to Sean Kean outside for a few minutes and he seemed excited at the prospect of a young guy getting involved with the party, but again, there was no invite to come inside and make a brief presentation, no "let me introduce you to the chairman" or any other offers to invite a new, young Republican into the "party".

I must say, despite the few signatures I did receive outside, this experience with the Republican party, or at least it's organizers, was extremely disheartening. Is this how the party intends to grow and attract new, young, members? Does it take millions of dollars in donations and contributions, like Andy has, to "pay to play" to address the party and get their nomination? I was of the impression that people should be given choices and be free to make their own decisions and vote for the person that they believed best represented them, but according to the Monmouth County Republicans, since I don't have millions of dollars, I can't represent anyone, nor do I deserve the same opportunity as someone who does and moreover, there should be no other choice to vote for last night, one was enough. I was of the impression that public officials were supposed to be representatives of the people - I'm part of the people - an average working class guy - and I don't have millions of dollars to contribute to the party - and that somehow eliminated me from even having the opportunity to speak at a convention of the party I belong to, and the party that the 200+ people who have signed my petition belong to. So I missed a screening a month ago - I wasn't even in the race a month ago - just like Andy wasn't in the race a month ago, but I could, and would, have screened over the phone like Andy did or I could have been screened at the convention because, unlike Andy, I showed up at the convention and could have screened in person before the convention started even. I was simply asking for the party to give me the same opportunity they gave to Andy and was rudely denied.

Does the Republican party care at all about attracting new, young members or just taking money from a rich businessmen who has a questionable background? And does the party believe that average working class people like me, without DUI charges, without cocaine use allegations, without tax evasion charges, who have to show up at our jobs sober, and who don't have million dollar bank accounts - would vote for someone who so obviously doesn't represent the ideals that we posses? Does the party expect us working class people to vote for someone just because they are rich? Is this how the party intends to obey their oath to the Constitution, protect a democratic process, and represent the people?

The current state of the Republican party here in NJ is truly troubling and clearly if this party isn't willing to change it's "pay to play" policy for nomination, in favor of a "most qualified, representative of the people" policy for nomination, it will never win an election, or attract new members, and will die out, literally. Not to mention, I have laid out my stance on a number of the issues on my website, where is Andy's position on anything? Does the Monmouth County Republican party even know who or what they endorsed because as far as I can tell they endorsed a criminal while denying me, an honest working guy with an honest and clear platform, acceptance into "the system". Sad.

Fortunately, a few people who I had unknowingly run into at the convention saw my comment and blogged about it. A friend of mine pointed me to the blog, “More Monmouth Musings”, of Art Gallagher , which then lead me to the blog “Voice Of Reason” of “Barry Goldwater”.

Art seems to have blogged about my comment and story first. (Edit: Looking at the timestamps, Barry beet Art to the first punch, but I saw Art's blog first and never really looked at the timestamps until now.)
Thursday, March 27, 2008
James Hogan of Long Branch is running for Congress
He has an amusing tale of his experience with the Monmouth GOP convention posted on Politikernj.
Posted by Art Gallagher at 1:08 PM

And “Barry Goldwater” was the first to quickly reply in a comment of his own.
Barry Goldwater said...
Amusing? or sad?

Thursday, March 27, 2008 1:43:00 PM

The remaining comments would come from other people who would appear often over the next few months, but I didn’t think much of at the time. “Barry Goldwater” then posted about my story on his own blog.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Hogan for Congress: 6th District

Check out for a story from James Hogan about his experience at the Convention last night.

Then check out his website, and read through it.

Why not James Hogan?

Does Bob McLeod have a website yet?

Who? You ask?

Robert McLeod, the screening committee's candidate in the 6th. Google turns up nothing.
Posted by Barry Goldwater at 10:50 AM

Over the following months, these two individuals would express their support for me, blog about my efforts and provide helpful comments and suggestions along the way… and I would use Google to turn something up about Bob McLeod that “Barry Goldwater” seemed to have missed.

As a personal note in case he reads this, I don’t know who this “Barry Goldwater” blogger really is. I suspect I’ve run into him once or twice in person, or maybe I haven’t, but since I’m not aware of any miracles, I’m reasonably sure it’s not the real Barry Goldwater who was blogging about me. I certainly do thank the masked man for his work and maybe someday I’ll be able to thank “Senator Goldwater” face to face. I’ll buy you a coffee and keep the secret for your support kind sir, otherwise, all you get is this one little paragraph as a “Thanks”.

That night of the convention, I had also unknowingly met Eric Sedler of RedJersey who also made several blog entries about my campaign and was one of the first to comment to Art’s blog. Eric even spent the time to “interview” me through email later on in my campaign. Eric’s interview questions were relatively fair, although I think his digestion of my response was incredibly biased due to my dislike for John McCain and my association with Murray Sabrin, an association that seems to merit his bias towards me. Regardless, Eric at least recognized and respected my work ethic and in general had nice things to say about me despite my ties to the Sabrin campaign. Although a public “endorsement” never was made and Eric officially supported the party line, I do believe that Eric was secretly, and actively, pulling for me, if not just to make for great fodder on his website as little ol’ me went after the Big Mean Pallone Monster. I also must thank Eric for at least entertaining my candidacy as he never really bothered to write about the other candidates, ether by choice or lack of effort on their part.

Some fun blog entries to read when you have time:
I'm liking that James Hogan kid running for Congress - Where Art posts my email to him about Mr. McLeod.
Judge McLeod responds to Hogan - Where Art posts some reply from Mr. McLeod.
Jim Hogan responds to Judge McLeod and commentors - Where I mock McLeod's reply with a reply of my own and try to keep the "debate" going
Peter Cerrato: Another candidate for the GOP nod in CD6 - Peter Who? Eric Sedler found out. Scarey!
GOP nod in CD 6: Safe McLeod? - PolitickerNJ's "Wally Edge" says Safe McLeod while noting I'm the only guy working
James Hogan Interview - My interview with Eric Sedler - long
Hogan cracks me up - I toot my own horn, then take a jab at Eric and others
James Hogan: Motivated, Dedicated and Completely Out of His Mind - Art writes a column that gets published in the paper
Primary choices - Is Art going to vote for me?!? Why would he do such a thing? :)

Coming up next - The Middlesex Convention and Meeting my Opponents - this time I was actually inside the hall where the convention was being held, wowzers!

1 comment:

Barry Goldwater said...

One lousy paragraph? That's it?

We have not met, but if we do, I might let you in on the secret.