I am not a politician — I am a manufacturing person and a teacher — but I have always tried to do something about public problems rather than just talk about them. My first move toward public office was in New Jersey. I was convinced one of our township committee members was crooked and I thought I would run against him. I planned to attend the township committee meetings until the next election so I would be informed. I went to the next meeting. There was no one in the audience but me and the newspaper reporters. The meeting droned on and on. At about 10:00pm they took a break and all the committeemen were curious about my presence.
They then reconvened. I had to get up the next morning for a one and a half hour commute to New York City ( I worked in Rockefeller Center) and I realized I could not take the time to be a committeeman — so I went home. I resolved to shut up about the crooked committeeman since I was unwilling to do the job but I resolved to support and appreciate genuine public servants from then on.
When Richard Nixon ran against George McGovern I was convinced that Richard Nixon was a crook and I was Democratic chairman in my precinct in California. I was a relative newcomer to the area but the established Democratic party activists were unhappy that Hubert Humphrey had lost the nomination and they were sitting the election out. I knew McGovern was going to lose because half of the Democratic households were supporting Nixon but I did my best. On the night of the election I was at the election office watching the results come in and my Republican counterpart was there and he was very happy. I knew him since he was my son’s soccer coach and I held my tongue but I was thinking “my conscience is clear”.
After I returned to Knoxville I was active in the Jack Heidel campaign for school board and I was at the polling place all day. I observed that the Randy Tyree vs Kyle Testerman voters had already firmly made up their minds before arriving at the polls and that gave me the confidence in the judgment of informed voters that I have today (Randy won in an upset).
When John Duncan Sr., our U.S. Representative, died it looked like John Duncan Jr. was going to get the U.S. Representative position without opposition. That offended me and I said “if no one else is running against him , then I will”. I got my name on the ballot for the Democratic nomination. At the last minute several other people entered the race and I eventually lost in the primary to Dudley Taylor. I really liked the slogan “This is the House of Representatives — not the House of Lords”.
During the race I thought of an idea- if I won the primary, I would try to overcome the big money advantage of the Republicans by distributing an inexpensive video that would clearly explain why I would be a good U.S. Representative. I thought then that I could trust the intelligence and sense of fair play of the voters if I could give them something they could replay when the Republicans flooded the TV with advertisements. I still think the voters are very intelligent when they have enough information on a political race that has caught their interest. I entered the 2004, 2006, and 2008 campaigns- trying to try to test my idea. I made a DVD in the 2008 campaign but I didn’t raise the money (it would have taken about $100,000) to distribute it.
I am running this time as an experiment to see if I can use the social media on the internet to overcome the huge financial advantage the incumbent has. Anyone who will volunteer advice and/or help in using the internet is welcome!