From the beginning, the financial plan of this State Senate campaign has been built on a simple three-part structure: 1) hold an initial online fundraiser to launch the campaign; 2) hold a second, larger fundraiser to fuel a successful marketing campaign for the Primary; and 3) hold a final, no-holds-barred, apocalyptic online drive come September 2010, when everyone has finally tuned in, to carry us over the finish line in November. A very tough row to hoe.
Tough, but it was the only way to gradually overcome the huge disadvantages faced by an outsider campaign in a County the size of Chittenden. And each of our last two drives, in July 2008 and February 2010, each spaced about six months apart, were highly successful.
But we’re knocking on September’s door, and that means the time for the toughest of the three fundraisers is now.
But before we make that last, crucial ask, let’s survey some of the things we’ve accomplished together over the last 15 months together.
* We’ve built and deployed a complete campaign apparatus, one that stands us in good stead today: website, volunteers, lawn signs, social media presence, and lots and lots of solid shoe leather in every single village and town. We’ve talked about single payer and universal broadband and expanded mass transit and wind power in every hospitable living room from Jericho to Jonesville.
* Easy to forget now, but there was a moment when the fate of Yankee’s license extension in the Vermont Senate was a perfectly open question. We came out early and aggressively on that issue, making the case at our September 2009 kick-off that the health risks were real, the plant must be retired, and Entergy Louisiana must bear the full and entire cost of decommissioning, plus the cost of retraining and transitioning the work force down in Vernon.
Fair to say that we added a strong voice to that debate, and helped frame the campaign conversation at an early stage.
* We came through the Primary in good position to win the General, and followed that win with another the next day in the coveted Democracy for America Grass-Roots All-Star Endorsement race.
* And finally, most importantly, we remain the only campaign at the state or local level to produce actual video documentation of illegalities and dirty tricks by the Dubie for Governor campaign. If you haven’t seen this footage, you should treat yourself, because it’s not everyday that a camera crew accidentally captures Dubie Co-Pilots actively trying to disable another campaign’s plane.
We promised you from the start that this campaign would never be boring. Promises kept, folks.
It’s a fine level of accomplishment, but of course none of it matters unless we finish in the top six come November. And the hard truth is that we can’t do that without raising the money to put direct mail in every mailbox in Chittenden County. Twice.
So we come to you again — I come to you again — to ask for your direct help. Act Blue has served us incredibly well this campaign; they make donating online utterly painless and trouble-free, as many of you know already. The Act Blue link is here for the clicking.
Put it like this: if you have ever even once considered donating to this campaign, or to some campaign this cycle that shows itself worthy, please help us now. We love smaller donations, which have been the mainstay of this campaign, and we love the larger, rarer ones, which have occasionally leveraged us out of gaping holes at key moments.
Some days there’s just too much to say, and no time in which to say it anyway, which makes for bad blogging. Wanted badly to post all of our current news earlier today, but events conspired against me. So here’s the much-delayed post laid out in no particular form, graceless and with nothing to recommend it but its truth and its essential sweetness:
#1:We made it through the Democratic Primary, with a bit of room to spare. As all of you know, there were seven candidates for six slots on the November ballot. When the dust settled, we tallied just shy of 11,000 votes, for a close fifth place; fifth and third were separated by only a few hundred votes. Which is to say that we live to fight another day, which is brilliant, but the numbers make it clear that we’ll have to fight, if we hope to be alive on November 3rd.
Still, it’s a humbling thing to ask a County to take a flyer on your candidacy, and then to have thousands of people blacken your oval.
Thanks to everyone who gave us their vote, and most especially to those who worked the polls (Elaine Sopchak, Irene Wrenner, Matt Breuer, Kathy FitzGerald, Luke Martin, Abby Weiss and friend, Robert Bristow-Johnson, Erik Filkorn, Selene Colburn, Laurie Burke, Gabi Baumann, Annika and the girls, Dave Babbitt).
#2)We won Democracy For America’s endorsement as their Vermont Grass-Roots All-Star of 2010. This was touch and go for days. Like to think we have a good digital operation, building off the original VDB platform and the newer but established Facebook and Twitter sites. But Dave Yacavone, running for the Senate in Lamoille County, turned out to be a digital wizard, and every time we’d raise enough votes to surge back into the lead, Yacavone would re-surge past us.
Finally, last night after the voting, dog tired in the Daily Planet in downtown Burlington, we made one last push and put together 15 or 20 votes, which finally sealed the deal.
And today at noon, Jim Dean sent out an official DFA email announcing the results.
Now, look, I followed Howard Dean’s Presidential campaign like a hawk, and wrote about it again and again for Vermont Public Radio. Always respected the man big-time. But never more so than when he rose from the post-Scream ashes to head up the DNC and to found Democracy For America.
It was the move of a genuinely thinking progressive politician, and I’ve yet to meet a DFA staffer who didn’t share that same fire. So it was a genuine thrill to get an email from Jim Dean, and to see my name there in the first paragraph.
And DFA’s muscle will mean a great deal to this campaign, truly.
So deep thanks to all of you who made it so with your votes. But special thanks to those on the campaign who picked up this particular fight when I was fighting fires somewhere else: Selene Colburn and Neil Jensen, Bonnie Ryder and Dr. Dan Avery, who together got it done.
And #3: In case you missed it, Fox 44 did a story on this campaign last Friday, and how smaller campaigns like it were naturally getting squeezed out of the news cycle by the five gubernatorial candidates.
Best part of the couple of minutes of air time? When the anchorman spots Dubie volunteers ripping down our lawn signs during filming, and we all run over for a 60 Minutes-style confrontation.
Very, very funny stuff, and irrefutable proof of Dubie campaign dirty tricks before the general had even begun. The footage is here, if you need a good laugh as we wait to find out who won the Governor’s race.
So we’re still trying to pull out this Democracy For America endorsement, which is decided on the basis of online votes. We were leading for much of last week, but we’ve fallen back into second with about 24 hours to go. So please, if you haven’t clicked through and voted, we absolutely need you now. Just click here; it takes all of 30 seconds. And in fact, we need your friends: Facebook, Twitter, personal email lists. We need you to light up your communication trees. If you do, we win. It’s that simple. Thanks in advance.
Late Update, 11:29 pm:
Okay, we’re currently in the #1 slot again, but that won’t last if people don’t continue to vote. So please click the link above, which is now fixed and operable, as opposed to broke and worthless, which is what it was most of this afternoon. And thanks so very much for taking the time.
If you haven’t yet voted in Democracy For America’s Vermont Grassroots All-Star poll, we need you ASAP. Why? Because DFA plans to endorse the winner, and put their considerable muscle to work in getting that lucky individual elected. And we’ve shown remarkable strength this past week, so it’d be a shame to lose it between now and the close of online voting on Tuesday. Click through here if you can spare 30 seconds, and you’ll have our undying gratitude. Which is a pretty sweet trade, when you think about it.
Before every election, the various reporting outlets run tests using some quickly fabricated numbers, to make sure they have their procedures and precincts straight. But it’s easy enough to forget this, if you go out of town for a day or two, and then do a quick Google search to see what you missed. Which can lead to a minor coronary when you run across the WCAX headline, “AP-VT-Dem-StSen-Contested.” You know, like you missed it somehow. Like you missed it, and it’s being contested without you being any the wiser.
But that wasn’t the worst thing about stumbling over this test data. No, the worst thing was seeing that whoever threw it together to dry-run the system snuggled this campaign right down in last place, with 3%.
Now, that’s cold-blooded. Can’t even get a little hypothetical love from WCAX.
This is one of those crucial moments where we need to translate digits into votes, but conveniently, the voting is still digital: DFA is running a GrassRoots All-Star poll, and they plan to endorse the winner in this year’s race. Please, if you would, if you value this blog, and if you want to help us win, click here and give us your vote in this poll. It does matter, and it will help. Thanks if you take the time.
Late Update, Wednesday 5:02 pm:
Turns out this endorsement race will continue through the Primary date of August 24, so we still need your votes. And we still totally appreciate them, in advance.
A smidgen of national interest in the Chittenden County State Senate race: Politico runs a piece on a new wave of political bloggers making a push for office. A bit nuts and bolts, but a story, nonetheless. “The clutch of candidates suggests a new chapter in the history of the blogosphere, one in which blogs, having proved themselves as potent tools for fundraising and advocacy, emerge as launching pads for the nation’s next generation of political leaders.” Check it out.
At this point we have about 1,100 of you connected to the campaign via Facebook, with another couple hundred linked in through Twitter. So in honor of Conversion Month (when we attempt to convert those digital relationships into real-world change and votes), we’ll be hosting our second social media meet-up of the campaign. We like to call it AWOL II (After Work/Off-Line), and it’s hosted by the inimitable Charity Tensel of blogging, crafting, tweeting, and existential philosophizing fame. Should be a nice way to unwind.
A Shot From The Last AWOL Event: Me left, Burlingtonpol’s Haik Bedrosian, and Charity on the right.
The Key Details: This coming Tuesday, the 10th, 4-6 pm, August First Bakery in Burlington.
You can RSVP here, but not to worry if you don’t. Just swing by after work and meet up with a campaign you’ve been following for, lo, these many months. And let’s talk about how to bust out of the digital into the real world, where elections actually happen. Oh, and free pastry, just the sort of thing you crave as you’re wheeling out of the parking lot at work.
Fair to say that a State Senate campaign has more than a few moving parts. Some of those parts are parts I was familiar with when I started; part were parts I wasn’t. But over the last year I’ve done my level best with all of those parts, and on the whole it’s a campaign I’m very proud of at this point. But there was always one nagging shameful feeling.
That lingering feeling? I made the decision early on to convert VDB into a something closer to a campaign blog, heavy on reporting our weekly events, lighter on political satire and commentary, local and national.
Still entertaining, I hope, and still edgy. But different, and different isn’t always accepted by readers, especially digital readers who vote constantly, in real-time, with their mice.
Which was why it was doubly nice to wake up this morning and find out that the readers of Seven Days had awarded VDB the 2010 Daysie for Best Vermont Political Blog. Sweet.
I can’t tell you how gratifying that is, to know that the hours that go into VDB still connect with a solid group of loyal, smart, active political readers. Muchisimas gracias.
A shout out to runner-up Vermont Digger, a must-read reported blog that has very quickly become a major player on the state media scene.
And as always, profound thanks to all of the good people at Seven Days, not just for creating the Daysies, but for caring about local culture and politics and people enough to have started the paper in the first place.
And that goes for all of you out there reading this post, right now this moment, at your desks or on your phones, even those reading while driving. Couldn’t appreciate you any more than we do here in VDB HQ. [Cue up Lyle Lovett, “I Love Everybody (Especially You)”].
We’re well into the phase of the election cycle we’re calling Conversion: where we (attempt to) convert the vast theoretical power of the digital world into the proven power of the three-dimensional world. That is, it’s time to put boots on the ground, mail in boxes, and yes, lawn signs on your grass. If you have lawn, anywhere in the County, we need your grass. Just email , and a sign will magically sprout at the end of your driveway. Promise.