Saturday, November 04, 2006

A LETTER FROM TOM MATHIESON-- A VOICE OF HOPE

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This morning I have a tough job ahead. I'm going to try to predict who will win each of the 435 House races. I'm not using a dart board-- and it'll stand as an historical record at DWT and at Firedoglake and at Music For America. I've been making fun of the rearview mirror prognosticators like Charlie Cook and Larry Sabato for the whole campaign. I've been castigating Rahm Emanuel all year. Will they turn out to have been correct and I... just hopelessly optimistic. I sure want great, progressive candidates to win and our whole Blue America project was meant to help along candidates that Charlie and Larry and Rahmie were not giving any chance at all.

We customized out "Have You Had Enough?" song and video for a couple dozen campaigns the DCCC would barely acknowledge and prayed we would encourage worthy candidates with good, strong messages who might grow strong enough to give corrupt and venal incumbents a real run for their money or, at least, start the process of party-building in red, red areas. We embraced the 50 state strategy Howard Dean espouses. And we raised $535,000 to bolster that embrace. About a tenth of that went into our Blue America PAC and we used that money to buy radio spots for some of the candidates who came and spent time with us at our Wednesday and Saturday and Late Nite Firedoglake chats: Charlie Brown, Victoria Wulsin, Robert Rodriguez, Angie Paccione, John Laesch. We bought a heavy schedule of TV spots in Michigan's 11th CD for Tony Trupiano and we even kicked in some money for a last minute newspaper ad for Coleen Rowley so she could answer the smears and slanders being hurled at her by the cash-rich corporate whore and right wing fanatic John Kline.

But when it comes to predictions, it isn't what I want to happen, but what is happening. And it looks good, though not across the board. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been pumped into the races by the Republicans and their corporate allies determined to keep their gravy train going. Our half million doesn't do much to counter that. All we could do was make candidates know there were some public-minded citizens behind their efforts to rescue our country.

This morning I got a letter I want to share with you. It comes from the campaign manager of a candidate who we haven't met-- at least not directly-- in our chats. The candidate is Carol Voisin and her campaign manager is Tom Mathieson. They're trying to beat entrenched far right rubber stamper Gary Walden in the gigantic district that covers 2/3 of Oregon (OR-02)-- the red part of the state. I hope you've seen our video for Carol's campaign. And I hope you've seen the TV spot Carol's campaign made with our song.



Here's the letter from Tom:


Hi Howie –
 
I'm Carol Voisin's campaign manager, and as we get to the end of the campaign I wanted to thank you again for all that you and the Hadenough/BlueAmerica team have done for us and the other candidates. As you and Rick Brown wrote in the Voisin DownWithTyranny writeup, this is one of those campaigns that has such structural disadvantages (Dems lose by 45%+), that it typically never gets off the ground, with a downward spiral of no belief and no money. This year has been different because Carol is a great candidate and she came together with some highly motivated volunteers, several of us from the netroots. Our weakness was also a strength, as the lack of professionals and insiders has allowed us all to keep the campaign in line with our ideals-- we've made things up as we went along while running an honest and positive campaign that has shined a big spotlight on Greg Walden's record.
 
Without Hadenough we wouldn't be running any commercials. As soon as we saw it on fdl we put it on Carol’s website (with Walden's numbers next to an explanation about how Coleen Rowley was running against rubberstamper John Kline). Just asking you all if it could get adapted for us seemed like a big deal, yet the answer was always yes, all the interactions were always easy and fast, and soon we were running our own 60 second spot in our only two "metro" areas of Medford and Bend.  Since we didn't have much money the ads, played sparsely, were sort of symbolic, but most everything about this campaign has been sort of symbolic, and it felt good. 
 
And then a couple of days ago the Democratic Party of Oregon sprung $10,000 for us to run the ad the last week of the campaign. This is enough so that it will really get seen, and really will bring in some votes. The fact that the DPO wanted to spend money on these ads when the Oregon House is in play signifies that they know that it is helping both Carol and all the down ballot races. People see it and they immediately understand and remember the song and the images, and it pushes them across the action-inaction line. I know I'll never get it out of my head. Our grateful thanks to everyone who gave their time and talent to make this happen, and all the FDL and C&L and other people who make Blue America possible...
 
Spurred on by having Hadenough, we made our own 30-second tv ad based on Hadenough, and also just put out a radio spot directly targeting the Second District's large yet often neglected Hispanic community. We’re heading for the finish line, and we’ll be out there phoning and talking to people until the polls close on the 7th. We expect to do better than anyone ever has against Walden, and may be in the running for most improved district…
 
As you watch the results next Tuesday and you see OR-02 go up, note that no Dem has gotten 26% against Walden. Also note that while Carol raised just over $50,000 from people, Walden's bagmen have collected over $1,250,000. He has spent almost a million of it holding off Carol, and hasn't given more than a couple thousand of it back to the Republican party or his pal Pombo, so we're keeping that money out of play. And also note that without a blowout in the Second District, the Republican's will have a hard time reelecting  Senator Smith in 2008. And everyone who still has Hadenough in their heads in 2008 will be a hard sell for them to ever get back. We've all done some good work, together.     
 
I'm enclosing part of Carol's last newsletter with the story of her leading a group singalong of Hadenough in Bend.
 
Thanks again for all. Happy trails!
 
Tom Mathieson


Last weekend Carol traveled to Pendleton, where she appeared with Governor Kulongoski and other Democratic candidates before an overflow and very enthusiastic crowd at the Pendleton Convention Center. She then traveled to Bend and attended a showing of "Iraq for Sale" with another overflow crowd at the Tower Theater. She led the audience as they sang along to her commercial "Have You Had Enough," before watching the film about war profiteering in Iraq. She looks forward to voting to set up a commission to look into the contracting abuses that have occurred during the Iraq war. Greg Walden has voted against any investigation of this waste of taxpayer money, and of the harm that this profiteering has caused for our troops.
 
Carol has traveled all over the district, visiting most counties at least twice. She has listened to people throughout the district as they discussed their problems and their concerns. She has laid out her views on major issues such as Iraq, healthcare, the environment, Social Security, the rising deficit, and energy independence, and has discussed those views in public forums from Grants Pass to Joseph, and from Hood River to Lakeview, and most everywhere in between.
By avoiding a substantive discussion of the issues, her opponent has shown that he doesn't respect the voters of the district. Oregon voters deserve to know:
• why Walden votes to continually stay the course in Iraq when it is obviously a bad course, a failed course
• why he opposes the Kyoto treaty and fuel standards for cars
• why he is in favor of tax breaks for Exxon and Chevron when they have record profits
• why he thinks that his salvage logging bill is good for forests when hundreds of the best forest scientists have told him that it will hurt forest recovery
• why he supports Bush's attempt to privatize Social Security
• why he has voted against investigating corruption and war profiteering by Halliburton
• why?


Walden's spokesman told the Ashland Daily Tidings that Walden didn't have to campaign because everyone knows where he stands. But the real reason is just the opposite-– if people knew where he really stood he would be in trouble with the voters. And so he stays silent, avoids the issues, and spends a million dollars on TV ads that don't really say anything.
Carol believes that the people of the Second District are smart enough to want more, to want better government, honest government, and to want a real debate on the issues. That's why she has run a fair and honest campaign and has consistently discussed the problems that face our country. That's why volunteers from all over the district have joined the campaign, and have spread the word. And that's why we have heard from Independents and Republicans and Greens and Libertarians and Democrats from all over the district that they've had enough, and are voting for Carol.

2 Comments:

At 1:33 PM, Blogger Rufus said...

I just want to say that, beyond the 70-80 seats where our candidate has at least a visible chance of knocking off a GOP incumbent, or taking an open GOP seat, we've also got about 140 Dems, running against incumbent Republicans, who know their chances of winning are vanishingly small. Candidates like Carol Voisin, for instance.

It takes a rare kind of fortitude to run hard, knowing that you're almost certainly going to lose, and any benefits to the party will be in other races, or in other years. But this is an essential task in party-building: somebody's got to be the first to break the ground, spread the message.

The next Dem to run for anything in eastern Oregon will have a better chance on account of what Voisin is doing right now. And the next Dem Presidential candidate will have an easier time convincing people in eastern Oregon to vote for him/her on account of Voisin's run this year, and will be less dependent on votes in the Willamette valley - and so the state will likely be more blue in 2008 than it was in 2004.

So Voisin and all those like her, who are running real campaigns on a shoestring in dozens of solidly GOP districts across the country, are blue heroes of the first magnitude. My hat's off to all of them.

 
At 5:44 PM, Anonymous Greg Jividen said...

Voisin is French for "neighbor"; I live in the 2nd and see Carol as the most qualified opponent of Walden's in years. We need a good neighbor like her to lead us, instead of a mealy-mouthed yes-man for corporate interests. It is painful to watch election after election go to wealthy elitists that don't care for or represent the issues that matter to rural people. Historically, these people voted FDR democrat; it is but for their gun rights they don't anymore. If the Democrats want to re-take these 2nd district voters as well as similar ones nationwide, this aversion to gun issues must be addressed. Have you ever read American Rifleman? These people are single issue voters. They are still scared into voting Republican because they truly think a Democrat administration will curtail gun possession rights.I know. I used to be one of them before I went to the university and was exposed to a variety of viewpoints.Hunters in this district can in turn be appealed to by underscoring the necessity to conserve habitat for future generations to hunt in. This is a practical application of the Democrat tendency to champion conservationist environmental causes. Finally, Voisin has a doctorate in Theology, something she doesn't advertise but should. In this district faith means a tremendous amount to citizens; this level of commitment to faith, in contrast to Walden's commitment to dollars and contributions from businesses should illustrate a telling contrast. God help us preserve the Union from the Constitution wrecking acquiescence of Rep. Walden as he shills for President Bush.

 

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