September 7, 2005

  1. Campaign Activity Ramping Up
  2. Web Page Growing
  3. Issues Comparison
  4. Fund-Raising

1. Campaign Activity Ramping Up

It's been a busy summer, politically and agriculturally. As I announced last Spring, since I am a farmer by profession, politics -- except for the fun stuff like parades, festivals, county fairs -- would take a back seat to my farming activities during Maine's short growing season. And that has worked out well. I've kept my political toe in at various events, hammering away at the Iraq War, the irresponsible tax cuts for the wealthy, the need for universal health care for all Americans, my support for labor, my dislike for NAFTA and now CAFTA, my opposition to the Bolton ambassadorship to the UN, etc.

Over the summer, behind the scenes, we've been developing the campaign plan, we've interviewed people for key slots, we've compiled an impressive list of volunteers whose skills and talents will be tapped soon, and we've had enough donations to almost cover all the basic expenses we've had so far. Meanwhile, the crops have grown and matured, and the major irrigation/drainage projects have neared completion.

But now Labor Day is behind us and it is time to ramp up the visible part of the campaign.

I'll be marching with the Veterans for Peace on Saturday in Brunswick, joining the "Chain of Concern & Remembrance of 9/11" in Bangor on Sunday, and speaking at the Maine College Democrats statewide convention at Bowdoin on Sept. 30. I'll be spending as much time as I can at MOFGA's Common Ground Fair Sept. 23-25 in Unity, helping to staff a few Social/Political Action booths and just enjoying the company of tens of thousands of like-minded people. (Congressman Dennis Kucinich will deliver his keynote address at 11 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 25, at the Fair.)

Around those events, for the next few weeks, we will be focusing on scheduling our "fall campaign kick-off" and other events, arranging for guest appearances at events put on by others, and ratcheting up our fund-raising activities. If you know of an event in your area that we should attend, or one being put on by your favorite issue-oriented organization, let us know, and we'll try to schedule it in.
2. Web Page Growing

You may have noticed that our web page has grown over the summer. We posted a link to Cindy Sheehan's Mother's Day Letter last May, well before she became a national hero. We've got Ruth Belchetz's stunning poem about Iraq, and the text of Dennis Kucinich's floor speech about the Bush Administration response to Hurricane Katrina.

We've also recently added a Supporters page where people can publicly declare their support for this campaign. There you'll find members of my initial Exploratory Committee as well as others who are willing to be listed as supporters. We see it as a way of building momentum. I'd like to add the hundreds of people already on our mailing list, on our volunteer list, and/or on our donor list. If you're willing to publicly show your support by appearing on this list, let us know by going to the Supporters page and sending us an email from there. If you were forwarded this campaign update and are not yet on our mailing/emailing list, please include your name, address, phone, and other contact information in the body of the email message you send from that page. A written note, if you prefer, will also do nicely.

And, of course, there is the Volunteer page, where you can sign up to help on the campaign. Let us know what you do best, and we'll see how we can take advantage of that. And thanks.
3. Issues Comparison

Of particular note on our web page is the section that compares my views with Olympia Snowe's. Although we are both adamantly pro-choice, our differences on many other issues are stark -- the Iraq War (its authorization, its funding, and the withdrawal of troops from it), the Patriot Act (which she voted to authorize in 2001 and to RE-authorize this summer), the Estate Tax, the Bankruptcy Bill, Class Action Lawsuits, tax cuts for the wealthy, and more. She voted in favor of continued funding for the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator weapon system, also known as the "Bunker Buster." She voted to confirm Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General, so we now have the chief law enforcement officer in the country who thinks the Geneva Convention restrictions on torture are "quaint." She voted to confirm ultra-conservatives Priscilla Jones and Janice Rogers Brown to federal judgeships. She appears poised to confirm Judge John Roberts as the new Chief Justice to the Supreme Court, despite the oppositon of major women's organizations, civil rights, judicial and environmental groups.

It is becoming clearer every day that Olympia Snowe, this so-called "moderate," is actually an "enabler," as she sides more and more with the extreme agenda of the Republicans who control the Senate. As I've been pointing out, if you look at her record, she tends to vote the right way when it doesn't count, but the wrong way when it does. She gets a lot of praise for voting on the losing side of issues that play well at home (voting against drilling in the Alaska Wildlife Refuge, for instance), but then she'll turn around and vote in favor of the budget bill that includes several key issues she had publicly opposed (like ANWAR and the $10 billion cut in Medicaid funding). And I'm not the only one to notice.

It is time to take America back from the politicians in Washington who, like right-wing strategist Grover Norquist, want to cut government "down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub." Suddenly, prophetically, tragically, we discovered just what that meant, when New Orleans became that bathtub. And hundreds, maybe thousands, of innocent people drowned. Predictably, unnecessarily, like the good men and women of the military lost to us in Iraq, they paid the ultimate price for the right-wing's political ineptitude.

The Republican trashing of American has got to stop.

I'm doing what I can by running for U.S. Senate. If you feel as I do, please help me in that effort.
4. Fund-Raising

Unlike Maine candidates for State Legislature or Governor, federal candidates (U.S. Senate and House of Representatives) are not eligible for Maine's Clean Election money. So federal campaigns starts from scratch, asking people for money to help pay for everything from bumper stickers and lawn signs to salaries for paid staff and, later in the campaign, those expensive television ads.

Olympia Snowe never stops fundraising, and as of July had accrued $1.2 million in funds for the November 2006 campaign. She spent just shy of $2 million to defeat Mark Lawrence in 2000. As you can see, we've got our work cut out for us.

I am confident there are enough Mainers who share my world view, my values, and my concern for the direction the Bush administration and the Republicans in Congress are taking this country, to put me over the top on Election Day November 2006. But I have to get their attention. Your donation will be used to keep my name and my message out there, in person, in print, and on the airways, pitched directly to those Maine voters. I have cleared my personal calendar for the next 14 months, to do just that. I am prepared to travel all over the state and to Washington DC as often as necessary to meet with voters and influential people, to voice that shared concern, to express my vision, our vision, for a better America, and to do so strongly and repeatedly over the next 14 months.

But it takes more than willingness, determination and vision. It takes money to get that word out -- gas money for my 1993 American-made Saturn with 279,000 miles on it, postage for mailings, phone expenses, the printing of calling cards, flyers, newspaper ads, and production and distribution of those commercials. It takes a small but talented paid staff to organize the many volunteers and to work out and stay on top of the myriad details that inundate a statewide campaign.

Consider this a fund-raising "ask." If you can make a contribution, please do, from a few dollars up to $2,100 each election cycle. Check out our Contribution Page for details about how to donate on-line, or by mail. We have a long way to go to catch up with Olympia Snowe on the fund-raising front. Anything you can do to help will be greatly appreciated.

For those of you who are willing and able to get a little more involved, house parties are a great way to raise some money, plus build momentum for the campaign. House parties need not be complicated -- a few friends, some light refreshments, and a good round-table discussion on the issues of the day. I love the exchange of ideas that happens when people feel comfortable enough in a friendly environment to voice their opinions and their concerns. If you'd like to hold a house party for us, let us know and we'll work out the details with you.

Thanks again to you all for your support, your encouraging words, and your advice. Together, we CAN make this happen.