There is a good article in the post on Frank Kratovil starting his first term as Congressman. I worked to help get Kratovil elected this past year, so keeping tabs on him is a point of interest.
January 3, 2009
December 17, 2008
So I wanted to share an article I wrote for the Maryland Sierra Club’s seasonal newsletter The Chesapeake. I worked as a summer intern(and helped into the fall) on a Congressional election in the 1st Distrct of Maryland. The race was between Frank Kratovil and Andy Harris. I wrote this shortly after my guy Kratovil was declared the winner after the absentee ballot count. Check it out Here, and I’m also posting what I wrote below.
Hey Sierra Club members, as some of you may know, there was a very close contest in the 1st Congressional District of Maryland. The Sierra Club endorsed Frank Kratovil in his face off against long time environmental foe State Senator Andy Harris. At the beginning of the year and into the summer Frank Kratovil was trailing Andy Harris by double digits in the polls. The Harris campaign had lots of special interest money and resources. All of the political pundits that rank races by competitiveness all around the country labeled the seat as “safe” for Andy Harris’s taking. At one point I read that Andy Harris had said that the 1st district was one that a conservative could win every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Frank Kratovil has just been declared by the AP to be the winner after an absentee ballot count added significantly to his narrow vote lead. As Kratovil said when addressing supporters Tuesday night “this might not be a Sunday”.
What’s fantastic about this race being so close, is that I watched the Sierra Club make a difference. I oversaw, and coordinated many of our efforts over the summer, working as an intern from our College Park office. Without getting too deep into the tax code and how my number one priority was to not violate it and earn us a day in court with IRS, lets just say doing outreach was interesting. Our rules had it to where I couldn’t talk to anyone about voting for Frank besides our members and my mother. Okay I couldn’t talk to my mother either. Every action and breath I took had to be run through our national compliance office to make sure the rules were followed. I don’t like rules, but I liked the Sierra Club so I played along. I gained from this an infinite amount of respect for our Sierra Club organizers and leaders who have to do so much with so many rules, and such little money. They could teach Wall Street a thing or two.
We did a pretty good job at contacting our members and getting them involved. Throughout the summer myself and volunteers made thousands of phone calls to our members in the 1st District. We asked people a few simple things. One was whether or not they knew about the race, and who we had endorsed. The other was whether or not they would vote for Kratovil, wanted a sign in their yard, or wanted to write a letter to the editor supporting him. My reasoning behind this was that if we could get people involved on a small level, aware of the race, thinking about the race, talking about the race, following the race in the news…we could get them more involved later on when they were really needed. In the later months when the race was tight and canvassing and phone banking opportunities were everywhere, we’d know who to call. Of course, when we found very enthusiastic people, we’d try and plug them into Kratovil campaign activities(and boy were there a lot of them) right away!
I was inexperienced at a lot of this when it came to outreach for an election. I made a lot of the strategy up as I went along, and probably made some mistakes. But the key part of our strategy I was counting on came to fruition in the end. The race tightened, people got enthusiastic and pumped up, and the Sierra Club had a nice list of people to call and tap into. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I’d estimate we collectively made over 1,000 phone calls and canvassed over 1,000 doors just in the last two months. It paid off.
But the real heroine in the last couple months has been the Sierra Club’s Conservation Coordinator Alana Wase. Thanks to an anonymous donor(I know who you are, thanks!), we could afford to set Alana loose right at the same time I had to go back to school, so I got to just become another volunteer assisting her. She’s really responsible for our most productive moments, and deserves far more credit than me. I’d also like to give special thanks to Janet Schollenberger for all the work she did with outreach to Baltimore County group. David Prosten for helping with Anne Arundel, and tolerating the phone scripts I gave him and his group. Betsy Johnson for making phone calls, and telling me I was doing a good job even when that may not have been entirely true. Laurel Imlay for showing me how to do things competently, and for lending me her mother for a phone banking session(best phone banker ever).
And of course, to everyone else I don’t have the space or memory to name. Those who agreed to canvass, make calls, give your time, your money, and your vote, thanks a million. We just helped Frank Kratovil pull off one of the biggest upsets in this election cycle in the country. We taught Andy Harris that if you vote against the environment, there will be consequences. It goes to show that nothing it set in stone. Nothing is a done deal. All it takes is for a group of people to believe, roll up their sleeves, and go to work. That’s what the Sierra Club is all about.
November 23, 2008
Here’s some photos of myself, Alana, and fellow Sierra Club people meeting some of Maryland’s political bigshots. I also met Governor O’Malley, but didn’t get a picture. Maybe it’s that my eyes are green, but I look possessed in every picture.
November 17, 2008
So I should have pictures and press hits being linked eventually for everything I was a part of Fri-Sun. First I joined some people in protesting in front of the Bank of America since their bank has funded coal companies performing mountaintop removal to the tune of 6 billion dollars since 2001. We delivered letters from concerned students, and then did a “die-in” in front of the bank where we pretended to be dead/dying to symbolize the thousands of lives that coal and coal mining ruins and kills every year. There was a good deal of media there, and it was an interesting event. I’ve never protested anything like that, so I wanted to see what it was like.
Then Friday night I went to a Frank Kratovil victory party to celebrate, and get a picture of him with my Sierra Club buddies. So I met Kratovil, got to talk with him, and we got our pic taken with him as he wore a Sierra Club hat that said on it “here to save the planet”. Then, I realized that there were all sorts of big names in the house. I had the privilege of talking to Ben Cardin, Steny Hoyer, Congressman Dutch Rupersberger, soon to be leaving Congressman Wayne Gilchrest, and Governor O’Malley. All of my conversations went well except the O’Malley one, the Cardin one went real good. O’Malley didn’t seem to be too polite to be honest, but after thanking him for his support for the Global Warming Solutions Act, I told him in my opinion he should discontinue funding the ICC, and he pretty flatly and without elaboration said no. Not that I expected much different.
Then this weekend I went on a retreat held by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, where I met a lot of great activists, networked with people, talked about the climate movement, and did some planning for the winter and spring to achieve objectives. I had a great time, and I got to talk with Mike Tidwell too. I also got to give a speech about what students were doing.
So there will be pictures and press from some of this. Definitely pictures of some of my run-ins with the politicians to prove all this actually happened. Quite an exciting weekend!
November 8, 2008
October 17, 2008
So this is pretty amusing, in the Congressional race I worked on during the summer, and where I’m still doing some volunteering this fall, a lot has happened. The big news had really been that there have been 2 new polls out in the past few weeks. One of them had Frank Kratovil and Andy Harris tied at 36-36 with 25% undecided. This one was shocking enough, and then a later poll has Kratovil leading 43-41 with 16% undecided. A few more things seem to be indicating that this will come down to the wire. In the 3rd quarter report of $$ raised, Frank Kratovil outraised Andy Harris. Finally, Andy Harris in one of his own speeches admitted that the race was going to be extremely close based on the internal polls his campaign had been conducting.
So Andy Harris must be pretty desperate, because he just did something pretty silly and stupid. In a campaign commercial which attacked Frank Kratovil, and Harris used footage from a previous campaign commercial from back in the primary that he had used to attack Wayne Gilchrest. So the people in this video are actually referring to someone else when they make criticisms, not Frank Kratovil. A number of bloggers caught this, and the Daily Times posted this story recently exposing it: http://www.delmarvanow.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081016/NEWS01/810160408/-1/newsfront2#pluckcomments
Quite frankly, I don’t care that much, but it is pretty stupid. So stupid in fact, that anyone who is undecided should question how someone who puts out a commercial with such a display of limited intelligence should represent their district.
September 20, 2008
So I worked through the Sierra Club on the most heated Congressional Race in Maryland which is taking place in District 1. If you want a throrough explanation of the contest and who I am supporting, check out my past blog post. The momentum for Frank Kratovil appears to be headed in the right direction.
A new poll shows that the race is a dead heat, with both Andy Harris and Frank Kratovil being at 36%, and 25% of voters undecided. Now this poll is a very good sign, previous polls from a couple monthes ago showed Harris with a double digit lead. However, I’m not going to read TOO much into this poll, except that Kratovil now has a shot. My reasons for skepticism are as follows
1. The poll has a 4.9% margin of error and a sample size of 400. It was also a poll held by the Democrats. While a valid poll, the margin of error and sample size means that this thing could be 5% more in favor of either candidate. A sizable swing.
2. 25% undecideds is from my perspective a dangerous number. The reason is that i think undecideds are predominately people who haven’t been paying much attention to the race. In a conservative-leaning district, I can see alot of these voters going to the polls with little knowledge of either of the candidates except that Kratovil is registered Democrat and Harris registered Republican. I think with only that to go on, more of these voters will vote Republican.
So I think the Kratovil campaign needs to bring down the number of undecideds, whether that be advertising, targeted canvassing, and mailings. The debates should help. The more people learn about Andy Harris’s extreme views, the more of those undecideds that are moderates will swing to Kratovil. Talking about how Andy Harris has a lifetime score of 7% on environmental bills during his tenure as a State Senator is proving to be a very effective line. I think this is what puts the district in play for Kratovil. The health of the environment, the Chesapeake Bay, and the preservation of farmland and open spaces is very important to people in the 1st district. Ultimately, Andy Harris’s record on those issues leaves no indication that he will fight for any of those things. In fact, the record shows Harris will work to fight them.
September 6, 2008
So I haven’t yet mentioned a Congressional campaign that I’m involved in here in the state of Maryland. The district is D-1, and it covers all of Maryland’s Eastern Shore as well as some parts of Baltimore County, Harford County, and Anne Arundel county. The district is overall a conservative learning district, it has been represented by Republican Wayne Gilchrest for 18 years, however Gilchrest was very moderate and cast many votes that were against the party line. This may have played into his loss in his primary earlier this year, where he was ousted by a far right-wing State Senator Andy Harris.
Andy Harris as a Congressman would be the worst-nightmare for a lot of people, and likely all of the people he will represent. This man is so far out of touch with reality he makes George Bush look like a moderate. There are a number of votes in the Maryland State Senate that were on common sense issues and bi-partisan bills where only 1 or 2 Senators opposed something, and Andy Harris was one of them. However for myself, the reason Andy Harris needs to not take office is because of his environmental record. The man has a lifetime score of 9% in the State Senate, he voted the wrong way on the environmental 91% of the time!. Andy Harris voted against anything and everything you can think of, whether it’s protecting our Chesapeake Bay, preserving open spaces and refuges, solar grants, renewable electricity standards, emissions standards for power plants and cars, improved fuel economy standards for cars, improved energy efficiency standards. I could go on but my fingers would fall off. Ok, one more, Andy Harris has had a couple million dollars worth of his campaign money come from Club For Growth, a very extreme far right group which pushes tax policies that only benefit the wealthy. Club For Growth basically goes around and tries to knock off Moderate Republicans and elect Uber-Conservative ones. Exactly the kind of partisanship we need in Washington.
Okay so Andy Harris is a load of crap, but who is the alternative? Fortunately voters in the 1st District has a great challenger in Frank Kratovil, a moderate Democrat and Queen Anne’s County Prosecutor who matches up very well with the values of his district. He’s more conservative when it comes to national security, immigration, and crime issues. He’s also been endorsed by the Blue Dog Democrats of Congress, a small group of moderate fiscally conservative Democrats who take their endorsements seriously. However, Kratovil favors Universal Healthcare, he understands we need to restructure our tax code so that the cuts go to the middle class rather than the upper 1%.
When it comes to the environmental and energy issues, Frank Kratovil gets it, he knows that increasing domestic oil production is so moot and that it won’t have a significant effect on the price of gas, and that the minor effect it does have won’t be seen for over a decade. He realizes that it’s therefore not worth the large risk of opening up additional offshore drilling for such a small difference. Frank supports taking the 18 billion dollars in subsidies we’re giving to oil companies(because they’re struggling so much) and devoting those fund to renewable energy. He supports improving the fuel economy standards of our cars as well as funding the tax credits for renewables. Frank also recognizes that climate change is a serious problem, as opposed to Andy Harris who questions whether or not it’s man made, and voted against the Global Warming Solutions Act in 2008.
So it’s real easy for me to say that Frank is a moderate though, but everyone tries to position themselves that way. So then why have two commissioners of two of the counties on the Eastern Shore who are Republicans endorsed Frank? How come some of the county coordinators working on his campaign are registered Republicans? Why have I seen conservative bloggers supporting Kratovil and bashing Harris? Why is a conservative member of the Sierra Club working to get Frank elected? Still not enough for you? What if I told you that Wayne Gilchrest just last Tuesday made a public endorsementof Frank Kratovil? Yes the Wayne Gilchrest who is a Republican and has represented the district since 1990. He’s even now in one of Frank’s campaign commercials right here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGAESB1DCiQ&eurl=http://www.kratovil.com/
So I will continue to put out updates about this race. It’s an extremely important one. Frank can win in this district in this kind of a year with that kind of an opponent.