This could be a diary about how heartbroken I am that my brother, Jeff Morris, will not be replacing Wally Herger in CA-02 this year. It could be a diary ranting about the appalling lack of support Jeff's campaign received from entities like the DCCC, which instead gave several hundred thousand dollars to a candidate in a neighboring district who was running against a much stronger opponent than our feckless Mr. Herger. I could rant for days about what half that support could have done for Jeff Morris's campaign.
Or, this could be a diary about how frustrating it is to see the constituents in District 2 vote (yet again) against their own interests by re-electing Wally for an undeserved 12th term, and how (perhaps) they deserve the lack of leadership they're going to get.
But I'm not going to go there. That kind of talk won't move us forward.
Jeff's campaign was built on the idea that District 2 deserves better, and that's what I want to focus on. Today is the first day of the next election season for CA-02. Now don't get me wrong -- I have no inside info as to whether or not Jeff plans to run again. I suspect he hasn't had time to get a decent night's sleep yet, much less make those kinds of plans. But that doesn't mean that each and every one of us shouldn't have our eye on the next chance to reclaim the district.
According to the California Secretary of State's website, Jeff Morris took 42.7% of the district's votes, while Herger received 57.3%. Trinity and Butte counties gave the majority of their votes to Jeff. The rest of the counties leaned in Herger's direction.
Disappointing as this was, Jeff's loss is not without a very significant upside:
Morris has garnered a higher percentage of votes than any other local Democratic congressional candidate in recent memory ... [In the] 2nd Congressional District, historically it's been rare for a Democratic candidate to win more than a third of the votes in the state's general elections. Only three times since 1990 have Democratic candidates garnered more than 33 percent of the vote.Today, a local paper had this prediction:
And next election, if Morris chooses to run, his campaign for the 2nd Congressional District seat might find itself bankrolled by Democratic supporters for the first time in decades.In fact, the political lines are already being drawn:
"Clearly, it will get the attention of Democrats in Congress," said Bob Mulholland, spokesman for the California Democratic Party.
Mulholland pointed to the similarities between Morris and Charlie Brown, the then unknown Democratic challenger who in 2006 surprised many in the 4th Congressional District.A local editorialsums it up:
Hector Barajas, spokesman for the California Republican Party, said Morris had his shot and won't get another.
Morris labored under a 20-1 fundraising gap and hails from Trinity County, a remote mountain corner of the 2nd Congressional District, yet he made a strong showing. Preliminary results show he even won in Butte County, Herger's nominal home. If Morris had enjoyed more party help, it might have even been a serious horse race.Bottom line: I believe that Jeff Morris's grassroots people-powered campaign significantly weakened the Republican Party's hold on CA-02. I believe that the people who worked their hearts out on Jeff's race learned a lot about how to run a winning campaign against entrenched interests. I believe -- because I saw it with my own eyes -- that there is diverse group of college students, ranchers, woodsmen, and everyday people in this lonely long-ignored district who, although they had never worked on a campaign before, were so inspired by what Jeff stood for that they are now hungry to keep working for positive change. I believe that this energy can and should be harnessed quickly before it fades away. I believe that will happen.
Not to make too much of one semi-close election, but Tuesday's result suggests that Herger, while still a popular incumbent, isn't the electoral steamroller he used to be. Plainly the district's voters, given a serious alternative, are open-minded. That's healthy.
We endorsed and like Herger, but we like honest choices and accountability even more. Morris did the district a service by reminding us what those look like, and we suspect we haven't heard the last of him.
We may have to wait for the 2010 House race for all of the hard work and good energy from Jeff's 2008 campaign to play out completely, but I'm predicting you'll see a lot more of Jeff Morris's influence before that time comes. I encourage each of you to think about how you can be part of the effort to reclaim the 2nd District and to effect other positive changes for the district's people. We all have skills that we can contribute. As we saw in Jeff's race, each and every phone call, each and every flyer distributed, each and every dime raised made a demonstrable difference. If, in the next 2 years, someone calls and asks you to help in similar efforts, please do what you can.
In the meantime, I thought I'd share photos from our long election day.
Kossacks Matt in Brooklyn and cranberrylib proudly wore our Jeff Morris for Congress t-shirts!
Homeowners showed support for our three favorite candidates:
Jeff and Judy started the evening greeting supporters at the La Grange Cafe in Weaverville:
From there we drove to Redding, joining local Dems at Angelo's Pizza Parlor, where we all screamed our hearts out as Barack Obama won the presidency.
There was plenty of media coverage:
This supporter was a phone banking machine, churning out hundreds upon hundreds of calls for Obama and local Dems:
And, of course, Jeff's family was out in force:
We started getting early returns from Jeff's race at our next stop, a party given by the Dems at Monroe's Casino Club. What a great party it was -- absolutely packed with screaming dancing people, complete with noisemakers and patriotic apparel!
When Obama gave his acceptance speech, there wasn't a dry eye in the house.
It was at this party that we learned that Jeff's wife Judy won her race to succeed Jeff on the Trinity County Board of Supervisors. Judy Morris is only the second woman to represent the Weaverville district on Trinity's Board of Supervisors (Jeff's mom was the first). In January, Judy will join two other women on the current board, creating the Board's first-ever female majority.
Jeff's die-hard entourage then piled into our cars and drove to Chico, where, at a very very very late hour, we joined the still-energetic remnants of an earlier party thrown by local Dems.
Two final hat tips: to Aaron from the Chico State Democratic Club, who got up at 5am to distribute door hangers and stayed with us until the bitter end. And to Mike, Jeff's field rep in Chico, who was an essential driver behind this campaign, spending countless hours strategizing, organizing, and getting the word out.
We had a great time, all things considered, and I think Jeff probably wants to sleep for a week. But he was interviewed on a local radio station yesterday morning, and people are already encouraging him to run again. So we'll see what happens. His county supervisor gig will be finished in January (when Judy takes office). Available: one seasoned local official! Inquire within.
I'll close this ridiculously long post with an enormous round of thanks for all of you who supported Jeff Morris for Congress this year. Your encouragement and support meant the world to him.