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I'm from the government,

by paul spencer Thu Jun 7th, 2012 at 02:22:22 AM EST

and I'm here to help. Well, the first part isn't quite true yet, but the second part is a simple summation of my life.

Y'all might remember that I ran for an office in the Washington State Legislature in 2010. Here's a link to my post-election diary .

So - it's a serious campaign this year. As stated in the linked diary: "The outcome was fully expected, due to the history of the last 20 years in rural WA. Going forward, though, folks are aware that I'm running again in 2012; and they're aware that I'm a stand-up progressive Democrat, who promotes similar policies to the ones that created a Democratic Party majority here from the '30s to the early '90s."

Some of the reasons that the 2010 outcome was expected was that the Tea Party uprising was at its peak, that there was no nation-wide or state-wide election to motivate the Party troops, and that many independents were disappointed in the President's (and the Democratic Congress') general acquiescence to Bush' policies.

Some of the changes that should improve my prospects for election in 2012 are that there are nation-wide and state-wide elections, that the Republican Party is showing sectarian strain, and that many independents now identify Republicans as "the Party of No". (A recent small-business survey showed a strong majority denouncing partisan division in government. One thing that the Obama administration does well - acting the adult in the kindergarten.)

On the Legislative District level, this year's re-districting brings the Republican incumbents into our area as virtual unknowns. In addition the foci of the relevant issues change from almost purely agricultural matters to renewable-energy, tourism, and forests.

My opponent for Position One, House of Representatives is an even older retired guy than me. He's a nice guy from all accounts and entirely ineffective in the Legislature. A Yakama friend of mine is running against a known asshole for Position Two.

As stated, this time it's serious. True to my wonkish nature, my strategy is based on writing 8 bi-weekly, quarter-page ads in the relevant local newspapers. The ads will primarily be issue papers, and the target is the independents who read newspapers (fairly common in the rural U.S.). The Democratic Party base is mostly the responsibility of the "Coordinated Campaign" - meaning the hired staff for the combined campaigns of the President, Senator Maria Cantwell, and our candidates for Governor and most of the other State executive offices.

Here's my basic campaign stance (not changed much from 2010):

"Paul Spencer retired in 2008 from a career in manufacturing, starting 'on the floor' in 1971, working into supervision in both production and technical fields. He is familiar with the state and federal laws that cover Safety, Environment, Energy, and County Government. Homeowner in Skamania County since 1980. Co-founder and first Director of the Skamania County EDC in 1985 to promote economic diversification via destination-resort tourism. The EDC was instrumental in the creation of the Skamania Lodge and subsequent tourism development. In 2006 he worked to obtain signatures on the petitions that brought Initiative 937 to the voters. I-937 and related legislation have been major factors in the development of wind-based generation of electricity in our state (particularly Klickitat County). Secretary of the Skamania County Democrats, Democratic Party State Committeeman, and member of the Agricultural and Rural Caucus. Bachelor's degree in Mathematics from the Univ. of Texas in 1970. Graduate work in Materials Science (Metallurgy). Honorable Discharge from the US Air Force in 1968.

"Major issues for our district include:

"Jobs! In particular, we need jobs associated with building affordable, workforce housing. Also, as our candidate for Governor, Jay Inslee, says:
Support for development and deployment of renewable-energy-based power generation.

"Support for utilization of biomass (particularly forest-derived) for combined-heat-and-power facilities on a small-scale, distributed basis with an emphasis on industrial or municipal heating applications. (Full disclosure: Spencer is involved in promotion and development of such a project.)

"As our Superintendent of Public Lands, Peter Goldmark, has promised, we need:
Sustainable resource management (timber, water, soil) state-wide on both public and private lands, balancing exploitation of resources with protection of our citizens' safety and health.

"Support for public education. Washington is a natural resources state. Our agricultural sector - including our timberlands - must bear more of the state's financial burden in this regard. In return we must redevelop relevant vocational training to serve these economic engines.

"Building a diverse agriculture with an emphasis on local market development, local processing, and high  nutritional content.

"CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) in the Yakima valley appear to be strong sources of groundwater and air pollution. We need to regulate these operations with a view toward mitigation.

"Spencer supports an increase in taxes on the super-wealthy in order to spend on long-term investment in smaller, local business with both feet in our state.  Spend on infrastructure that supports greater energy autonomy for our citizens. It can start in Districts like the 14th, where we have high-quality wind and solar (and biomass) resources. We need 'Roosevelt' Democrats who support small-business and working people in rural districts,

"Spencer's strategy is to challenge independent voters to consider that the rural forested and agricultural regions of our state are short-changed by their tendency to elect Republican politicians in a state with a solid - and stable - Democratic Party majority in the State Legislature. The Republicans are the "Party of No" at the federal and state levels. Their theory is that, if the majority party cannot deliver government, then voters will give the Republicans their turn at control. It's not working. We rural citizens will be well-advised to elect old-school, 'Roosevelt' Democrats such as Spencer, who support our interests and can negotiate with the urban Democrats on a collegial basis."

I have some additional statements on education in the state, Seniors' issues, and public transportation; but the main points have to fit on one page for the various campaign announcements and fora.

Be glad to read any criticisms or additions.


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Best of luck, Paul.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 7th, 2012 at 04:17:17 AM EST
spot on Paul, you fully deserve to win with such sensible, grounded policies.

your PR seems excellent, your CV too. Go get 'em!

and thanks for sharing your campaign with us here, it's inspiring.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jun 7th, 2012 at 05:58:27 AM EST
You obviously know your district very well and know what the issues are, but it strikes me from reading your CV and policy stance that you are appealing to voters almost entirely on economic issues. Whilst this will motivate many to vote for you I suspect your GOP opponent will probably also seek support on social wedge issues, reduced taxation, anti big Government, and even fundamentalist religion type issues.

Voting for most is an emotional as well as a rational/functional decision and many voters want to feel their representative is "one of them" and understands their fears and concerns regardless of the fact that, in practice, a local rep. doesn't have any role in many of such matters. You are representing/embodying their values as well as promising to do a competent job representing their economic interests.

I'm not suggesting you try to compete with your opponent on their turf, but that you fill out your CV a bit more to enable more voters to identify with you on a wider range of emotional levels as well as on the economic issues.

You may also wish to micro-target your message to focus on the different issues that are of most concern in different parts of your district.

Ask yourself the question: why would seniors vote for me? Why women, young people, unemployed, union members, minorities, free market business types etc. etc. and see if you can put in a positive message or hook that would attract many in each group.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 7th, 2012 at 09:30:10 AM EST
My ads will be tailored somewhat to the locale of the several newspapers. There will be more about agricultural and renewable energy in Klickitat County; more about forests and local, organic food production in Skamania County; and more about CAFOs, affordable housing, and urban issues (gangs and schools) in Yakima.

The personal aspects do emerge to a degree in the 'town halls' and similar fora. Being 67, I have a lot of stories to share from the 'old days'.

You probably don't know that WA passed a full-spectrum marriage act this past year. The incumbent did himself no favors with his Republican Party base by voting for it. Essentially, we hold the same position there, so he has neutralized that issue. We have a full-blown marijuana legalization initiative on the ballot this year. If asked, I will support it, but that's not a hot issue as far as I can tell. Most people that I know - from a wide spectrum of political philosophies - think that marijuana proscription has been an expensive waste of energy and lives.

Both my opponent and I are strong on education and women's issues, so, again, no advantage. I do intend to target youth, which, I admit, can be daunting for me. I find them very wary of old folks. Can't blame them really, but it makes connection difficult. I'm trying, though.

paul spencer

by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Thu Jun 7th, 2012 at 11:53:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Any mainstream online media presence? You tube video? Facebook campaign page. Twitter campaign? Wikipedia entry? Places where prominent people can endorse/donate/support you? Know any celebs? Got any pictures/videos of you doing interesting things or with well known people? (Brand recognition is about connecting with already known brands).

Does humour work in Washington - or at least get people talking about you? Think of a few zany angles that will provoke interest rather than be off putting.  If you are paying for newspaper ads, the least they can do is interview/profile you.

In general people will vote for someone they know something about - anything - rather than someone they know nothing about.  What's your name recognition compared to your incumbent opponent? It can come down to something as trivial as that.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 7th, 2012 at 12:30:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
PS I have googled you a bit and the only online presence I can find is on truly awfully wonkish sites that only committed political activists and technical specialist will read. You badly need your own website with lots of colour, family photographs, videos of you giving presentations, favourable news coverage, and opportunities for voters to engage with you via comments/email etc. Talk over videos of your locality showing you understand the issues people face in their daily lives. Include footage of popular or well known local personalities engaging with you. You have to SHOW you understand, not just include abstract references in dusty policy statements.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 8th, 2012 at 12:14:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I will try to do better.

paul spencer
by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Fri Jun 8th, 2012 at 08:36:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
that we are building pages on several Dem-Party-linked sites.

paul spencer
by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Fri Jun 8th, 2012 at 08:37:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which may help consolidate support from already committed Dem supporters and thus be of very marginal benefit at best.

What you need to appeal to uncommitted voters is a presence on apparently unaligned or "non-political" sites singing your praises - facebook pages etc. Local community sites, a personal campaign site emphasising your personal qualities and community ties rather than your political identification.

Committed Dems will vote for you because your a Dem. Everyone else will vote for or against you because of how you present yourself to them as a person  - and a strong party identification may even be a negative for them.

You are a multi-dimensional person, not a party apparatchik. You have to appeal to a multitude of different people on a variety of different levels. Only a small minority of people will vote for you on purely ideological grounds, and only a few more on perceived competence.

The swing vote is typically composed of low information voters who are looking for some hook or symbol by which they can differentiate between two candidates they know little or nothing about  - and who will then promptly forget about their choice and get on with their daily lives far removed from any consideration of politics

You have to give them some reason to vote for you in that one glimmer of consciousness when they are actually deciding how to cast their vote.  So they have to have some positive association with you:

  1. Name recognition
  2. Local/community identification
  3. Professional respect for what you have accomplished
  4. Some belief in the more positive future you are depicting/promising
  5. positive, warm, sunny emotional feeling/vibes about you (are you someone they would like as a colleague, neighbour, grandfather, community representative)
  6. Association with other things they feel positively about
  7. Party political/issues identification - comes about last in the list for swing voters.


Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jun 9th, 2012 at 09:13:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
paul spencer:
You probably don't know that WA passed a full-spectrum marriage act this past year. The incumbent did himself no favors with his Republican Party base by voting for it. Essentially, we hold the same position there, so he has neutralized that issue.

Absolutely NOT!

Talk lots about your support for Gay Marriage. Your base will support you but by highlighting the issue you will further alienate him from his base. He's the one who shouldn't be talking about it!

(Unless political hardball isn't your style, of course)

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 7th, 2012 at 12:42:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... advertise applauding your opponent for his support for marriage equality, state that marriage equality should not be a partisan issue, and that the religious freedom of churches who recognize same sex marriages to perform same sex marriages should be respected by all.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jun 8th, 2012 at 11:13:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was going to wait for it to come up in candidates' fora, but I will take your suggestion and advertise it.

paul spencer
by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Fri Jun 8th, 2012 at 08:33:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You probably don't know that WA passed a full-spectrum marriage act this past year.

There is a voter referendum coming up on that, right ?

So the topic will become important in the elections ?

Btw, I'll be in WA end of July, what election events are planned for that timeframe for me to
attend 8-) ?

Now what ?

by pi (etrib@opsec.eu) on Fri Jun 8th, 2012 at 04:14:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"We" being the several Dem candidates that overlap or interface in our districts.

I will let you know. Looks like you have a straightforward e-mail address here.

paul spencer

by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Fri Jun 8th, 2012 at 08:35:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Since Washington State is full of independents, mention how you rebuilt your house, with pictures of your family, the view out the window with the vegetable garden, what you actually did for a living, the long commute, etc.

Hi, Paul! Still following your career.

You need bullet points on the top of your message, with explanatory paragraphs further down. The bullet points should be slightly braggy, happy, optimistic. You can back them up.

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Tue Jun 12th, 2012 at 01:45:40 AM EST


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