Today we are changing the pace a bit in our diary series rolling out the Congressional campaign of Ron Shepston -- the veteran, aerospace engineer, athlete, and grandfather whom you have long known as CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream.  For one thing, we usually post our diaries in the morning here on the west coast, and I've wanted one to come out in the evening to reach people who tend to read this site later in the day.  For another, we have some significant news that even those people here who belong to the campaign don't yet know.  (And I'm not letting them know ahead of time.  That means you're going to see their reactions in real time.)

For anyone who doesn't yet know, Ron is running against the ethically-challenged Rep. Gary Miller, who apparently believes that his role in Congress is to make money for his out-of-district friends, in CA-42.  I'm running his campaign full-time (so much so that I have was only able to read even the first seven chapters of the last Harry Potter book because I was waiting for my car to be fixed earlier today.  It was a good time for my brakes to fail, I guess.)

What happened today?  We met with a representative of the DCCC.  More below.

Previous diaries in the CA-42 campaign rollout series:

7/15: thereisnospoon's CA-42: A Kossack is running for Congress
7/16: atdnext's CA-42: The Case Against Dirty Gary Miller
7/17: Major Danby's CA-42: I'm managing a netroots U.S. House campaign
7/18: CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream's CA-42: CA-42: Hi, I'm Ron Shepston and I'm running for Congress
7/19: hekebolos's CA-42: A Netroots campaign-- politics the way it should be.
7/20: dday's CA-42: The Lay of the Land
7/21: OrangeClouds115 CA-42: "I Know His Heart"
7/22: Shockwave's CA-42 Ron Shepston rides into a Republican stronghold

I almost wish that I didn't feel the need to post a headline that gives away the end of the story of our meeting this afternoon so that I could build up some dramatic tension before giving you the happy news.  But some people read headlines without clicking on diaries, and I want them to have seen this too.  Speaking of which, there is an eight-pack of wonderful diaries in the text box above -- with more to come -- and I urge you to read anything we've missed.  We are so very blessed in our supporters.

Here's the story: we received a call late last week telling us that the DCCC's representative for the western U.S. -- Montana down to New Mexico and westward -- would be in Southern California today and wanted to meet with us in the afternoon.  We didn't even tell our supporters about this, including the five great Koster diarists we met with last night.

We had two reasons for keeping it quiet: (1) we wanted to respect the privacy of the people initiating this contact, and (2) so as not to build up expectations given the possibility that things could have gone wrong.

And we knew very well that things could have gone wrong.

First of all, I hear you say: the DCCC?  Rahm Emanuel's group?  The bete noir of so many posters here?  Well, yes.  Same group.  Different personnel.  The person with whom we met was running Francine Busby's campaign prior to being hired to go to Washington; he's seen things from both sides of the fence and respects the power and role of the netroots.  And, as Markos has reminded us, the D-Trip is now under the leadership of Rep. Chris van Hollen, not Rahm.  (But give Rahm some respect -- he knows how to land a punch and it's great when he aims at the right chin.)

What could have gone wrong?  The DCCC could have tried to muscle us out or tried to take us over.

We've been aware for some time that, while there have been no prospects of a current officeholder or wealthy constituent deciding to run, that could change at any time.  We don't want a primary challenge, but we are prepared for one should it come.  What we don't want, most of all, is to be told "sorry, but some rich Republican-until-last-April political neophyte wants to run, so out you go."  The odds are strong that we wouldn't leave in such a situation anyway, but we want our focus to be on Gary Miller.

So, Ron and I were steeled for that prospect.  It didn't happen.  The pleasant, personable guy from the DCCC instead told us that the DCCC is targeting this district, among others, and is quite happy that we are running.  They're relieved to have a viable candidate where they couldn't recruit one.  They think they can work with us; they think that with a few breaks -- which Miller seems intent on providing us -- we can win.

Not only that: they know us.  They read us.  Not just DKos.  Us.  "Everyone at the DCCC reads Daily Kos," is at minimum a paraphrase.  Of the Southern California claque involved in the rollout, they know who thereisnospoon is, hekebolos, dday, me, Ron, etc.

They not only read us; they like us.

As for muscling in: no sign of it.  They want us to show our competence by raising money, among other things, but they've been impressed with the netroots rollout.  Our contact outlined the areas that they could help us -- many of which are areas where we could use the help and expertise -- but not even a gesture towards trying to squelch the netroots spirit of this campaign.  They understand what we want to do and they will help us do it.  (Most of all, they are going to help us figure out how to raise money, and they stressed that the seriousness we've already shown helps them take us seriously.)  If the time comes to bring in someone with 20 years experience to handle some part of the campaign for three times what I'm making, it will be because Ron and I make that decision.  (And we might someday.  What matters is winning while staying true to our convictions -- our roots.  Precisely how is happens doesn't much matter.)

Ron and I walked back to his pickup afterwards and he said: "that really couldn't have gone much better, could it?"  The answer I wish I'd gave was "sure it could -- gold coins could have shot out of the guy's nose."  But instead I just grinned.

This is a real campaign.  It's real enough for the DCCC and it should be real enough for all of you.  Ron and I are giving the next 15 months of our lives to it at substantial losses in income because we think that this has to be done.  That the DCCC agrees -- well, that's just more evidence for us that we are on the right path.

We need your help, because potential contributors are watching to see how well we are doing, and the thing they best know how to measure is money.  Please contribute what you can -- anything you can, but the more the merrier -- to us through our ActBlue page.  As an alternative, you can mail contributions to Ron Shepston for Congress, PO Box 97, Silverado, Ca 92676 if you prefer, but we prefer ActBlue.  If you mail it in, please see the ActBlue page so you know what information (as to employer, etc.) we need and what restrictions (not a government contractor, etc.) exist on who can donate.  You'll save us the need to contact you for this information.

We also need the names of volunteers; I will be making initial contacts this week with those who have already spoken up.  (The cardinal rule of dealing with volunteers is that I must not waste your time, and the delay has been for me to be able to make sure I can follow that rule.)  If you live in or near the district, I really want to hear from you.  If you know of fundraising prospects, I'd like that as well.

We are going to give you a hell of a show these next 15 and here at DKos you will have a front-row seat.  Now please help us convince other people that they should take this campaign seriously -- like the DCCC does -- by helping to fuel our campaign.  Many thanks to those who have already given, to those who will give now -- and to the many people here who inspire us to fight this good fight.

Originally posted to Major Danby on Mon Jul 23, 2007 at 07:17 PM PDT.

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