Monday, June 30, 2008

Running for Congress: The Middlesex Convention and Meeting my Opponents

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

At some point soon after the Monmouth Convention, I was also made aware of the Middlesex County convention at The Forge in Woodbridge. I only knew the date, time and location, so I showed up uninvited. At this convention I was permitted inside although only because Murray Sabrin himself handed my girlfriend and I “guest” badges after we were told we’d have to leave if we weren’t invited. Again, Murray, George and team were always polite to me and I think they would have done better on primary day if they were as polite to others. In any case, I suppose being a candidate didn’t qualify me to get in to the convention. No worries, at least I was inside as a “guest” and could see how “the system works” as that other rude woman had implied at the Monmouth Convention. It was here at this convention that I met my competition for the first time.

While standing the near entrance saying hello and begging for even more signatures, Mr. Robert McLeod found me shaking hands with potential voters as they walked in to the event. I doubt any insiders there were going to vote for me, but at least they would see me and know I was working for some thing for some reason. Bob and I talked about my now barely-famous complaint about the Monmouth Convention and he at least took a second, or two at most, to introduce me to the Middlesex County GOP Chairman, who didn’t seem to have time to even shake my hand, just told me “if you get 25% of the people to sign something, you can speak today”.

Something huh? Just anything? Whatever, I had a petition with two-hundred names on it at that point, no worries, I’d get my chance to speak. Of course, when the time came, he announced “anyone wishing to run in the 6th?” I yelled out “me…. Yes…over here”. I suppose the hearing aid wasn’t turned up as he couldn’t hear me. I walked up the side of the aisle “yes….. over here” from ten feet away waving my arms and petition, still nothing and was ignored. I had no worries really, I’m sure no one there was going to like me anyhow and I didn’t have a speech of any kind prepared, didn’t know the protocol and would have been winging it, not to mention after the debacle that was the nomination for the 7th district where some people voted twice and others voted for more than one person, I figured being a second choice would just cause confusion. Remember, these are the “party elders” who were reminded that it was the same voting process as the past twenty years – and they still couldn’t get it right – that’s how corrupt and crappy “the system” really is, maybe that woman was wrong about how “the system works” after all.


Following my being ignored about running in the 6th at the Middlesex convention, some short, little old man came over to me very upset. He dropped a few curses, spit a bit as he was “talking” (yelling) and explained to me how he just got screwed. Him? I was the one who was trying to explain I wanted to run and I got ignored, how did he get screwed? Maybe he was a big supporter of mine who had some bet going on me winning the nomination, maybe he was that blogger Mr. Goldwater?

Being the nice guy I am, I asked what his story was and he explained that he was Peter Cerrato, candidate in the 6th. Well, at least this obnoxious lil’ fella wasn’t the seemingly kind Mr. Goldwater, nice to meet you Pete - good luck, I had no idea you were also running, but your yelling and screaming is scaring my girlfriend and I, can you tone it down, please?

After enduring his verbal berating of everyone in the room for a few minutes, I made my smooth escape from Peter but I could still hear him yelling and complaining to former NJ Governor, Christine Whitman, even suggesting that she and everyone else there should be in prison for their crimes, Peter sure seems like a nice guy that voters would love to hear from, or not. Mr. Cerrato may or may not have just been having a bad day, but he didn’t have that congressional look and friendly personality that I’d expect in my elected official. Good luck Pete, see ya… and it should be no problem beating this clown in the primary race, right?

Having met Bob and Peter, I was certain that winning the primary would be easy. Once voters met these two awkward individuals, I would appear to be a rock star!

At that point, having met my competition, been ignored by the chairman, and being convinced I could still win in June, I left the convention and went down to a St. Pat’s parade in my old hometown of Keansburg after stopping at Perkins in Hazlet for lunch where I added a few extra signatures, including my friendly waitress’ signature. I was able to get some extra signatures from people who thought that they might have been Republicans along the parade route and talked to many voters. Again, I reached more voters that day than Bob or Peter could have reached at the convention so I was surely winning in Keansburg at least at that point.

As another funny note, I should mention that I modified my “line” at the parade to work the “I’m from this town!” angle and essentially what I said was “Hi. I’m James Hogan, graduate of Keansburg High School class of 98 and I’m running for Congress”. No offense to my friends and family in Keansburg, or the residents of, but as one of those “shocking” items, no one asked “and what did you do after high school that qualifies you for Congress, James?” and I suppose being a high school graduate was more than enough; and the thought makes me laugh for some sad and strange reason.

Coming up next - Learning How to Campaign - if you can call what I ran a campaign.

1 comment:

Melissa L. Gaffney said...

I love the long tag. I also love the reference to that "rude woman" who inferred the system does work. Too bad she has to remain anonymous.