Thursday, July 3, 2008

Running for Congress: Steve Lonegan Becomes My New Best Friend

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

Despite having no support from the meetups and no support from the party after the conventions, I did seem to have the support of a busy group of bloggers. I made it a frequent affair to check their websites for anything that could help me.

Art of More Monmouth Musings then exposed a potentially huge opportunity for me on his blog when he posted that Steve Lonegan, THEE STEVE LONEGAN, would be appearing at the Shore Casino in Atlantic Highlands on Friday Apr 25th to deliver some Americans For Prosperity presentation. The event would “only” cost $40 which was a nice, and cheap, change from the $250 per person events that I was getting emails about from the Republican Party each week and I immediately planned to attend, and campaign. Then Art blogged that the event was cancelled for some unknown reason and my hopes were ruined. Then Art blogged a third time that the event was back on, but was now just a presentation, no dinner, and was free – the perfect price! So I planned to attend and use the event, in District 6, to my advantage. If nothing else, I suppose you can call me an opportunist.

Now being that this was ***THEEEEEEE*** Steve Lonegan, I plotted and planned this day well in advance. I made sure I could get out of work early, I had my suit dry cleaned, my shoes polished and had extra flyers printed, I even talked my girlfriend into coming with me to help hand out flyers and talk to potential voters as this is *STEVE LONEGAN* and it was going to be a HUGE event.

We arrived at the Shore Casino in Atlantic Highlands at about 6:30pm, a full hour and a half before the event was scheduled to begin. I figured I needed to arrive early to make sure that I can catch the thousands of people and the media who would be in attendance, talk to the TV people, the radio people, the newspaper people, everyone would hear from me, James P. Hogan; I would be famous for the day and I would get the break I needed to tell a significant number of voters about me instead of walking door to door.

At 6:30pm, aside from a few fishermen, some people looking at boats and some seagulls, the marina was essentially empty. Not to be discouraged, I waited for the ferry to unload and handed out a dozen or so flyers to commuters, I bet none of the people I handed a flyer to were even Republican and all them probably tossed my flyer in the nearest trash bin, or on the ground, which would have at least been better than into the bay where I watched the wind carry at least one flyer. Had I not still been expecting thousands of people to arrive, I might have dove in after that flyer to help save the environment.

I approached a few people sitting around on benches and talked to them, we had a nice chat, but I learned that they didn’t live in the district. At least they kept me busy instead of just standing around. I even went to talk to the fishing boat captains and when I explained I was just a dopey software engineer who worked in a cube but knew about the Magnuson-Stevens Act and was on their side and rattled off some facts and knowledge, I had their votes, or so I thought, but then I’m sure while scraping fish guts from their boots they too forgot about me. I also chatted with two younger women who were smoking and suggested it would be best for their health if they quit and take up a better hobby; this only after they told me that they were Democrats and from NYC and I knew pissing them off wouldn’t cost me two votes, besides it entertained me for a minute or two and restored my spirits, I’m easily amused. I wondered around for a few more minutes staring at the empty parking lot thinking I was in the wrong place, or Art was just screwing with me on his blog, maybe that Art guy wasn’t my pal after all?

At around 7pm, as my girlfriend was laughing at me as my expectations and hopes were fading, I saw Mr. Lonegan arrive in his gas guzzling SUV so I knew the event was indeed on, but no one else was in sight. After Steve arrived, I positioned myself right in front of the door as I still expected thousands of people to magically appear, media included. Surely they would start arriving any second.

Around 7:30, Mr. Lonegan came back out, made what sounded like an angry phone call, and I soon realized this wasn’t going to go as well as I had expected. I walked over to Mr. Lonegan and introduced myself as James P. Hogan, Republican Candidate for Congress here in the 6th District, asked him for permission to distribute my flyers outside of his event so as not to hijack his event, and Steve (yeah, we’re on a first name basis now… just kidding, but I’ll pretend) and I chatted about some random issues for 15-20 minutes or so. Around 7:45, while I was talking to my new pal Steve, the crowd, all 20 of them, arrived at just about the same time and I handed out flyers to each of them, well, all except for one.

Bob McLeod arrived, to my surprise, but he didn’t seem interested in my flyer and didn’t shake my hand as the other voters who just walked by did in a polite sign of at least being human, but at least he wasn’t shaking hands with other voters and passing out his own flyers, win for me. Bob ignored me, barely said “hello” to my good friend Steve, confirmed “this thing” was still on, checked his watch, and took a seat inside. Bob never introduced himself as a candidate for Congress or even said his name, Bob only said “I’m with the affiliated”, which I later learned was the Monmouth Affiliated Republican Club, whatever that is. My pal Steve and I finished up our chat, he went inside and I hit one or two more voters on their way in before taking my seat inside. About twenty people showed up, no reporters, no TV cameras, no radio guys and I was not to become an overnight sensation that day.

Disappointed, I made the best of it and figured I should at least go inside and see what my good buddy Steve had to say. Despite the low turnout, Steve’s presentation was spectacular and I suggest anyone who feels overtaxed or over governed go listen to what Steve has to say (tell him that his friend Jim said hello, I’m sure he must remember me). If nothing else, Steve’s presentation was interesting and educational. Maybe it’s slanted and biased in some way, maybe it’s not, maybe it uses some questionable facts and figures, maybe it doesn’t, but it’s information to think about and Steve raises some interesting points. Information is good and if you go do your own research beyond the rhetoric, you might learn something, I did. I certainly believe that Steve is one of a few guys who understands the issues and can solve at least some problems in this state/country. Like everyone else, he’s far from perfect and I don’t agree with him 100% on 100% of the issues, but he’s 99% better (to me) than 99% of the other people involved in politics in my opinion.

Compliments about my new best friend Steve aside, towards the end of his presentation, during a Q&A session, some county social services workers questioned Steve about illegal immigration in the state, and why they can’t do anything about it and are told to just provide services to illegals and not report them to INS. Steve gave a vague answer and then suggested that these people talk to their federal representative, then suggested that there was a candidate for Congress in the room that they can speak with.

Expecting Steve to point these people to Mr. McLeod, I was shocked when the greatest friend that anyone can ever have, Steve, pointed at me and said something along the lines of “this young man over here is running for office and I’m sure he’d be willing to talk to you about the issue.” Thanks Mr. Lonegan! If I could have hugged Steve I would have. I wasn’t a TV star, but THEEEEEEEEEEEE Steven Lonegan just referred his audience to me and didn’t even mention that Mr. McLeod was in the room. Game on! I’m the man, take that Bob! A small victory, but a victory of some sort none the less.

To put this “victory” in perspective, I was sitting towards the “back” or far side of the room with my girlfriend, farthest away from Steve as I had gone in late and the close seats were taken. Mr. McLeod was sitting directly in front of Steve since McLeod was one of the first inside so he chose a “good seat”, and sat by himself. The people who asked the question were on the other side of the room, effectively they were to Mr. McLeod’s right and I was to McLeod’s left, with Steven someone in the middle of Bob and the people asking the question.

Following Steve’s referral, Mr. McLeod sat quietly, made no effort to introduce himself and when Steve wrapped up, about a dozen voters came walking my way, eager to vent their concerns, walking right past Bob, who said nothing to them and he made no efforts to earn their vote, or even say hello.

I stayed, and listened, for about an hour, conversed with these voters, explained my positions, learned from them, and they took some extra flyers to distribute for me, or so they said they would. I also accepted a letter from them which I later posted online about illegal immigration and believe that if nothing else, these people were happy to complain to someone, as if I was somehow someone. Hopefully they were happy just to vent because sadly, I can’t help these folks since I’m not the Congressman and didn’t win the primary. Mr. McLeod on the other hand left before Steve could even finish packing up his gear and never once tried to talk to the voters or anyone else, had he talked to these people, perhaps there would be a chance for their issue to be addressed.

With this experience complete, I was sure that I could beat Mr. Mcleod in the primary. He wasn’t even trying to campaign to win. He wasn’t talking to voters, he wasn’t “campaigning” in any way, he was a traffic court judge, and I had voters who seemed to like me, bloggers that seemed to like me, my new best friend in the whole wide world, THEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE Steve Lonegan knew who I was (yeah right!), what could go wrong? I even tooted my own horn on Eric’s RedJersey website noting my “success”.

Steve Lonegan’s presentation a huge success for James Hogan
By JHogan | April 28, 2008

*Full Disclosure - “JHogan” is James Hogan, a Republican candidate for Congress in the sixth Congressional District primary*

Steve Lonegan of American’s for Prosperity was speaking at the Shore Casino in Atlantic Highlands Friday April 25th. In attendance were two of the three Republican candidates for Congress in the 6th district, “Motivated, Determined, and Completely Out of His Mind” James Hogan and Traffic Court Judge Robert McLeod. Mr. Hogan arrived to the event early in order to introduce himself to potential voters and pass out flyers to everyone attending the presentation. James introduced himself to Mr. Lonegan as a congressional candidate and spoke to Steve about many important issues prior to the event. Mr. McLeod barely said “hello” to Steve before taking a seat inside and never made an effort to speak with the voters or provide them with information about his candidacy. Following a brief Q&A session that Steve Lonegan provided for the small crowd, Steve referred the voters concerned about illegal immigration over to James Hogan as the Republican candidate for Congress. Rather than stand up and introduce himself to the voters, or at least stick around and talk to some voters, Mr. McLeod left the event while James Hogan spent about an hour addressing the concerns of voters. James “Don Quixote” Hogan sure is working hard for votes. Is the Republican Party sure they picked a horse with the energy and determination to run against Pallone?

The following Monday, I had emailed my new best friend Steve to thank him and ask some follow up question. Steve must have forgot to add me to his email whitelist and my email probably got blocked as spam since he never replied to my email. Next time we're hanging out talking about the problems in the world, I'll have to remember to get his phone number.

Coming up next - Trying to Capitalize on a FEMA/”BEMA” Meeting - I visit another HUGE meeting with the public; and run into no one who cares.

No comments: