The Man Who Ran for Congress
I'm not ready to write this yet. Its old news anyway. Hang on I'll get to it some day.
Here's a start.
Perhaps the best indication of my frustration was the speech I gave to the Eighth Congressional District Republicans as a nominee for Congress. After nearly two decades of being pushed to the periphery of the party because I was a centrist I had had enough.
I had been thinking about running against Oberstar for years. I had even been the campaign manager for the Republican nominee, Marnie Luce, in 1982. We had walked on eggshells through the entire campaign because the two of us were pro choice while the party was almost in the hands of the growing pro life minority. Many if not most of the new Republicans had been Democrats who had felt similarly pushed out of their party. As long as we didn't make a fuss about our sentiments on this issue we were treated cordially but that was in large measure because no one thought Marnie could win. We weren't a real threat. I've had good pro life friends make the comment to me that they could vote for me for school board because it really didn't have anything to do with abortion. That seems to be the threshold for support for anyone in the party with a pro choice view. If any of us should challenge for any office that might in any way push the pro choice agenda we must be opposed. Otherwise we can be humored.
1992 was a year of great political tumult. I could sense a growing frustration with "politics as usual" and thought this might be the year I could make a dent in Congressman Oberstar's campaign. I had just written a book for adolescents and thought that I might be able to sell it as a way to raise money. Unfortunately, I had rushed the editing to get the book in print and been too vain to ask for help editing it. I did end up selling a few hundred Visit to the Attics but the huge stack of them in my garage to this day makes the futility of that fund raising idea pretty obvious.
After being booed lustily for my politically incorrect speech I rethought my plan to challenge the Republican nominee Phil Herwig. Like me he was a non entity but I knew the Republicans would come out in force and I would lose the election. Under the circumstances running as an independent seemed like a much better choice. That way I would guarantee myself a place on the November, General Election ballot.
Both parties presidential nominees were stuck at about 30 percent in popularity when the straight talking Texas, Computer millionaire H. Ross Perot was pitted against them in the polls. I gravitated to Perot for a number of reasons. I made a quite sensible observation that if elected he would need help in Congress to push his agenda whatever it might be. His biggest concern seemed to be the breakneck growth of the Federal Deficit which had been a major theme of my speech to the Party.
The problems of his campaign would become more apparent as time when on but I saw it up close at the first Perot meetings. Ross was a "tabla rassa" that's a blank sheet of paper. He was whatever any disgruntled American thought he was. There were strong Pro lifers at his meetings and raving Liberals. And of course plenty of sensible people who were tired that both political parties seemed to be catering to the most extreme elements of the nation.
In early spring I made sure to make my interest in running as an independent for Congress plain to the Perot people. I made trips to the Iron Range and to the Brainerd area to help encourage and recruit people. But as time went on the first batch of Perot followers gave way to new people who I had not explained my interest in campaigning as an ally of Perot. They weren't interested in Congress like I was. When I decided on a name for my "one man political party" I made a huge mistake. Getting too clever by half and trying to tie in my pro choice sentiments in with my association with Ross Perot, I filed election papers listing myself as a "Perot Choice Party" candidate.
The new people in charge of his campaign were not happy with my using Perot's name. I can't say I blame them. It was a bad miscalculation as far as associating with the Perotistas. On the other hand when even after I abandoned working on my campaign because my natural allies were mad at me I managed to garner 7% of the vote or 19,000 people. Of course by that time Perot had gone of the deep end complaining that black helicopters were hovering over his daughter's wedding.
In the end I voted for Bill Clinton and said so in the News Tribune. For Republicans and the active Perotistas it did little for my reputation. In time I came to regard Clinton as a very savvy leader. That was fated to end badly.
In four years time I voted for Bob Dole having come back to Republican conventions. I figured I might as well come back. Goodness knows most of the Republican pro lifers would have abandoned the party if their candidate hadn't agreed with them. It was just my misfortune to be the one who had to endure candidates who kowtowed to their side.