Thursday, September 01, 2005

PA Dem Candidate takes a page from my playbook from 2001 efforts

I ran for Mayor, City of Pittsburgh, in 2001 in the Republican Primary. I didn't win, but I did put forth some bold stances. My "twisted logic" as many would say, made perfect sense to me and our situations in Pittsburgh.

I spent a lot of time in 2000 and 2001 in the recruitment of candidates to run against. I wanted others in the race I had entered.

I tossed my hat into the public arena as I announced my intention to run for mayor in August 2000. The Primary was in May 2001. And, I went out and talked to more than a dozen "serious" people who strongly considered my suggestions.

In time, a loyal opponent did step forward, James C. Carmine, Ph.D. He edged me in the vote total among city Republicans by a couple hundred votes.

Today some satisfaction comes in understanding that the forumla that I advanced in 2001 in Pittsburgh has taken root with others in other locations throughout the state in a long-shot congressional race.

I advanced the formula -- but would never claim to be the "founder" nor "inventor" nor "first" in these pursuits. Democratic Congressional Candidate Calls for Competitors in Primary has joined its first Congressional candidate, Joe Otterbein, in announcing his novel campaign (see story Joe is following the GoodWorks-PAC game plan by calling for more Democrats to compete against him in the Democratic primary.

It’s counter-intuitive, but having more Democratic opponents in the primary campaign can actually help Joe win in November, 2006.

In Pittsburgh in 2005, sadly, the Republican candidate entered the primary without opposition. To be certain, I have yet to see Joe Weinroth run at all. But, his name was the only one put on the ballot. He is toast.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Man's experimental campaign to counter Platts
Joe Otterbein Jr.'s candidacy will use a Philly-based PAC's ideas: Sharing resources and holding charity events.
Daily Record/Sunday News
Thursday, August 18, 2005

At bottom: · AT A GLANCE
Joe Otterbein Jr. of Shrewsbury intends to defeat U.S. Rep. Todd Platts, R-York County, in the race for Congress next year.

Otterbein, who is running as a Democrat, plans to announce his candidacy next week — a year early. He's encouraging other Democrats to run against him in the spring primary. When they do, he'll suggest they share financial resources and even personnel.

He has no intention of spending his campaign standing behind a podium and making stump speeches. He's going to use his campaign money to sponsor charitable events. Building a community playground, maybe. Or bringing food to low-income senior citizens. If the people who show up want to be part of his campaign, great — but if they just want to help out with the charity work, that's OK too.

In short, his will bear no resemblance to a conventional campaign. But that's just the way he wants it.

"Rather than standing in front of a crowd and preaching to a choir, we'll be out helping people," Otterbein said.

And Dr. Eric Loeb, founder of a Philadelphia-based political action committee that's backing Otterbein, said the unconventional approach is, as far as he's concerned, the main reason for its existence. If it works out the way he hopes and believes it will, Loeb believes he might revolutionize the way political campaigns are conducted in this country.

And though it may seem a radical departure on the surface, Loeb sees it as a refinement of the Internet-assisted grassroots approach Democratic candidate Howard Dean's campaign employed with surprising success in the last presidential primary.

Loeb said he ran the first-ever online presidential campaign for the Clinton/Gore camp in 1992 when he was still a doctoral student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He later served as software engineer for Al Gore's presidential campaign in 2000, then as chief Internet architect for the Democratic National Committee.

All of that experience, he believes, has related to a new democratizing of politics, where campaigning is no longer a matter of persuading the major media outlets to acknowledge your existence.

"It's in the air," Loeb said. "I think its time has come."

Loeb said the model for Otterbein's campaign stems from an idea he first had 10 years ago. Competing Democratic campaigns could save money during the primaries by sharing resources such as copying machines and personnel such as event organizers, then use the money toward the general election in November.

Rather than campaigning via stump speeches, candidates could hold charity events in their communities. It would bring people out who could sign petitions, it would generate goodwill in the community and the local media outlets would probably cover it anyway.

For the past two elections, Democrats haven't managed to produce a candidate to run against Platts. Local Democratic party officials say part of the problem is that they're so outnumbered by Republicans, the state and national parties are unwilling to spend money on York County races out of fear that it will be wasted.

Loeb said one of the reasons he chose York County as a prototype for the campaign is precisely because there's relatively little to lose. He asked around to find someone who might be interested in running, and a mutual friend introduced him to Otterbein.

"You wouldn't want to experiment in a swing district," Loeb said.

Reach Tom Joyce at 771-2089 or


Joe Otterbein Jr. will officially announce his candidacy at 10 a.m. Tuesday on the steps of the York County Judicial Center.

Political party: Democrat

Town: Shrewsbury

Age: 49

Occupation: Food service director for Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland