If you’ve never run for office, you may not know that even when there’s nothing on your campaign calendar, there’s likely something that has to be done with your campaign — thank you cards, emails, social media posts, phone calls... For me the best times are when I get to go out and meet folks at a house party or rally or political gathering. Yesterday I headed to Ocala to meet and speak with members of the Top of the World community’s Democratic Club.
Most of the time, organizers will give a candidate about ten minutes to speak, and so I arrived expecting to speak for ten minutes. Then they told me as their one and only guest, I actually had a full hour to share who I am, why I'm running, and where I stand. I was nervous, naturally, but once I hit my stride the folks were with me because we all are headed in the same direction -- and that's to do the most good for the most people. They asked questions about education, the environment, how I intended to get laws passed in Tallahassee, if I had the backing of the state Democratic Party… and the give and take was energizing. What gives me a sense of satisfaction is that even if this had been a Republican club and I’d been asked the same questions, I’d have delivered the same responses. I’m not comfortable using the famed (or infamous) “pivot” strategy and I’ve found it’s best to answer questions directly. Maybe because I’m not a politician. I’m a citizen who, in these abnormal times, knew it was time to step up.
Here, as at other events, I remind every group again and again that while they’re there to meet me and listen to what I have to say, I am only the face of this effort. Volunteers and supporters and friends and Republicans and Independents who have donated, gathered candidate petition cards to get me on the ballot, and offered to help in whatever way they can help have proven that this is not about one person. It is about one purpose.
That’s as satisfying as letting them know while my opponent's war chest is a laundry list of thousand-dollar donations from corporations, lobbyists, PACs, and special interests who don't give a damn about the needs of the residents in District 12, my monthly financial report, conversely, is filled with donations from $10 to as much as $500 -- but all from ordinary people who want nothing more than to wrest power back from the corrupting influence of cash. Few things are as American as reminding people what a democracy can be, and then finding they're ready to do the work to make it a reality. If you want to participate in this grassroots, populist effort (and have the means to pitch in), just go to my campaign site at Gary2018.com. Between now and November I'm sure I'll be outspent ten to one, but it's a badge of honor to step into the arena and go up against the big money.