As we all know, you can't win an election without a good candidate. But behind every good candidate are good people working their tails off. And in a grassroots campaign, every blade of grass makes a difference.
Jeff Morris has run what can only be called an insurgency campaign in California's 2nd Congressional District, challenging 22-year incumbent and Republican party-liner Wally Herger. Jeff's campaign has been run entirely by volunteers.
Not one paidOnly one very low-paid staff member. Not one big corporate donation. A little bit of PAC support, but from PACs that a progressive can be proud of. The fact that it's a people-powered grassroots campaign was recently described with great clarity by a local newspaper:
When Wally Herger campaigns, his catering bills run in the thousands of dollars.
When Jeff Morris campaigns, he eats at McDonald's.
Herger's top donations are contributions from political action committees of companies in the insurance and financial sector and from agribusiness, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks and sorts federal campaign finance data.
Morris' contributions are nearly all from individual donors.
Not only did Wally receive his money (and lots of it) from corporate special interests, he then turned around and gave that money to other Republicans in other districts:
While Morris spends most of the money he's raised on campaign fliers and campaign travel expenses like gas and meals at McDonald's, Burger King and eateries in Redding and Chico, Herger is doling out money to his Republican peers.
This election cycle, Herger has given around $689,000 to Republican groups and candidates around the nation.
A $572,000 cut of that has gone to the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Among Wally's friends are former Representative John Doolittle, who has been tied to the Abramoff scandal. Wally has become so complacent in his gerrymandered district that he donated to Doolittle's defense fund, not caring what that might say about him or his values.
These are values that his constituents do not agree with, at least not according to these comments to a local newspaper article:
Wally's senority is allowing him to move further and further from those who elect him (if that's possible), and closer and closer to the Power Elite inside the Washington Beltway. The same Elite who have put us in the mess(s) we are in today.- HillBilly
It doesn't matter how much money a candidtate has in thier war chest...it matters on the principals for which they stand. We need to vote for a change now. We need a representative that will work hard for us. We can no longer sit idle and and watch our politicians drive this country into the ground.- Wil2008
Talk about special interest Herger! What a corporate puppet!- hpcrdredding
Funny how "fiscal conservative" Herger voted for all the Republican pork over Bush term and then some. Just what did Wally get for us???? The debt. Thanks Wally for all your borrow and spend on pork for other Republican districts.- DaveN
Jeff Morris, on the other hand, has exhibited the difference between paying lip service to the district's needs and actually doing something to help the people of the district.
Morris has served on the California State Association of Counties, acted as the rural county representative of CSAC, and been chairman of various committees all of which focus on rural agricultural needs.- Daily Democrat, Woodland (endorsing Morris)
While sitting on the Trinity County Committee board of supervisors, Morris helped save a failing hospital, which shows he knows how to work under pressure and fix financial crises - California could certainly use some help like that. Trinity County was one of the counties hit hardest by the summer fires. Morris' efficiency in dealing with the situation displays his knowledge of sustainable practices, which is something the university strives for.- The Orion, Chico State University (endorsing Morris)
During Wally's recent campaign swing through Trinity County, he visited the Weaverville Community Forest – a landmark forest management project – and was visibly impressed. He praised community members for their vision in bringing the project together. "What's so exciting is you're doing it yourselves," he remarked. "I really think that's what's making it work."
Later, Herger's website posted a message praising the project and claiming that it was made possible by a federal law he had supported.
The message was partially right -- the Weaverville Community Forest is a great success and a model for sustainable local forestry programs nationwide. But Wally's message left out some important facts:
• Jeff Morris was a member of the steering committee that created the Community Forest project. Jeff spent countless hours working to make the Weaverville Community Forest a success. A letter to the editor in a local paper summed it up nicely:
Sorry Wally, Trinity County Supervisor Jeff Morris has already broken the throne in. Jeff Morris owns it. Jeff Morris owns the vision that brought this thing to life. Jeff Morris owns the right to the lit billboard of fame that you seek to usurp. How dare you come to Weaverville and set foot in our community forest, you political hack.
• Herger's "support" for the Weaverville Community Forest consisted of showing up at work and voting "yes" -- he neither drafted nor sponsored the relevant bills. While District 2 is in dire need of leadership on sustainable forestry and other projects to jump-start the local economy, Herger was content to sit back and let others -- including Jeff Morris -- do the hard work required to produce real results.
Ten years ago, Wally was involved in a different plan (the Quincy Library Group legislation) designed to implement a consensus forest management proposal on lands in the Plumas, Lassen, and Tahoe National Forests. However, that plan has never gotten fully off the ground due to disputes among the Forest Service, national environmental groups, and local constituents.
While the Quincy Library Group plan has been mired in litigation, Jeff Morris and the other members of the WCF steering committee were able to initiate their plan, build consensus among opposing viewpoints, and hammer out the first-of-its-kind federal-local stewardship agreement that made the Weaverville Community Forest a reality. In just two years, the initiative has been so successful that it is viewed as a model for community-managed forest health nationwide, and may soon be expanded locally to include 13,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service land in the Weaverville Basin.
This is a great example of Jeff's ability to work with all kinds of people to bring good results to his district.
The message I'm hoping that the voters in District 2 send to Wally on November 4 is this: he may have figured out how to manipulate the kind of power that money will buy, but he has absolutely failed to figure out how to harness the power of the people.
For the first time in years, the north state has in Jeff Morris a man with intelligence, independence (no more following the party line in lockstep) and a real concern for the problems we have. Wally Herger is so entrenched with the Bush/Republican doctrine he might as well just move to Washington, D.C. We here in the north state seldom see or hear from him.- Margaret Earnest, Anderson
It's time to send Herger back to his ranch and elect Jeff Morris as our representative. Morris will represent all of us and not just special interests.- Warren Swanson, Redding
Herger has cruised from election to election without so much as lifting a finger. He has been hip to hip with Bush and his failed politics for the last eight years. Why do we think he will suddenly have the capacity to think and problem solve in a fresh, innovative way now, when he has had no habit to do that for 22 years?
It's like we the voters are in a dysfunctional relationship, where we stay with someone who is not good for us, but is familiar at least, and so, oh well, we keep voting for him, thinking it will get better. Well it won't. People don't change like that. I urge you to be awake when you vote, be very thoughtful, party lines be damned. I believe Jeff Morris is our guy. Let's do it!- Candace Palmo, Weaverville
Jeff told me he recently ran into someone at the grocery store who he had known since kindergarten but hadn't seen since high school. The man told Jeff that he now lives in Sutter County and that he's been working hard to tell his friends and neighbors that Jeff Morris is the right candidate for District 2. This is the beautiful thing about this district, and it's one of the main reasons that I've been writing so much about my brother this year. When you grow up in District 2, you usually are growing up in a small town. People in small towns are like family. And they may leave, but they don't go far. These are tight-knit communities where everyone knows everyone else. So if you're someone like Wally who hasn't been around except in election years, everyone knows it.
Jeff's friends might not be major donors, but Jeff doesn't need money to win this election -- he needs votes. In the primary, we saw that every single vote counts. Here's where you come in: I'm asking every single person reading this today to forward it (or any other good information about Jeff Morris) to 10 friends and ask them to send it to their friends. Yes, it's only 2 days to the election, but in that time, if we can reach a few hundred more voters, that effort might make the difference. I'd like to think that Jeff is going to win by a landslide, but I'm a realist. We need every vote we can get, and yes, we need your help.
Unlike a national campaign (or a campaign that the national power brokers are paying attention to), there are no pollsters, pundits or other so-called experts to tell us how this race is going to turn out. This campaign is flying under the radar. It's really just Jeff Morris and his supporters versus Wally Herger and his corporate funders. In my opinion, we have the power, because it's the people who vote, not the monied power brokers. One email or phone call from you could be the deciding factor. Please help us spread the word about Jeff in the next few days. Help us to help Wally retire. Help us to reclaim District 2 for a candidate who actually gives a damn. You'll be in good company if you do.
(cross-posted at Calitics)