All over this country, thousands of Republican elected officials from the school board to the U.S. Congress win reelection unopposed. Those of you in Berkeley or Washington or Boston may find this hard to believe. But readers in Middle America or suburban areas know exactly what I'm talking about.
Why is it that thousands of Republicans in state and local government face only token opposition, if any? Why do millions of voters go to the polls only to find more libertarians running for office than Democrats?
I think we could make great strides toward a cleaner environment, more compassionate social policies, and greater economic justice in this country if we could just take back our school boards and state legislatures.
In a few months, I will complete my master's degree in Boston and return to my hometown in Central Florida. Eager to get involved with local Democratic Party activism, I was crushed to find that the local DEC is nearly defunct and only nominally competent at best.
There is a state House district in my county that I think might be vulnerable. The incumbent, elected in 2000, won by less than 300 votes (50.3%-49.7%), despite outspending his opponent by nearly 2-to-1 ($183,000 to $100,000). After redistricting, the district leans slightly more R. In 2002, the incumbent faced only token opposition from a libertarian. This year, he is unopposed and has around $40,000 on hand. If challenged, he could probably raise at least $200,000.
He has no major legislative accomplishments (and has failed to secure funding for schools and roads), and is surprisingly unengaging and uncharismatic. White male, 49 years old.
I am a political novice by any measure, with no substantive policy experience of any kind. Yet I have deep roots within the community (unfortunately they're mostly Republicans) and I know I could run as professional and effective a campaign as anyone.
Oh, I can't self-finance.