I Survived Running for Office, by W.W.

In light of the current political turmoil and contested election, some readers may be thinking of throwing their hat in the ring for elected office. I would like to share my experience of my candidacy for U.S. Congress for the 4th District of Pennsylvania in 2012. As you may recall this was the general election where Barack Obama was elected president and the Tea Party was quite active.

I’ve earned a Bachelor’s Degree in History and have always been interested in the political process. Back in the 1990s I served on the executive committee of the Political Action Committee (PAC) where I was employed. The committee was responsible for doling out funds to candidates who supposedly were pro-business. The company was located in Maryland, so you can take that last comment with a grain of salt. Turns out most of the money went to incumbents of the Democratic persuasion so that our lobbyists could gain access to said officeholders. After a couple of years, I was shuffled off of the committee, no doubt due to my negative voting record on allocating funds.

Fast forward to 2012. In 2001 I had moved from the Peoples’ Democratic Republic of Maryland to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The current Congressman, Republican Todd Platts had announced he was not seeking reelection. He was instead seeking a judgeship on the York County Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas. That is typical for career politicians. The primary election featured six Republicans and four Democrats seeking the nomination in their respective parties. Being relatively new to the area and not having any real contacts in the political arena, I knew the primary was a waste of time so I set my sights on the general election.

I had no illusion about winning, but I wanted an opportunity to present an alternative to Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum. An open seat seemed like the best opportunity. I went online to the Pennsylvania Government web site to scope out the details. I discovered that I could run as a third-party candidate by acquiring the signatures of 1,000 registered voters in the district. I sent for the forms.

Thus, began my education. The form, in my opinion, is designed to confuse the uninitiated. The front of the form is almost entirely made up of blanks to be completed by the candidate. Part “C” is titled “Committee to Fill Vacancies.” This committee is made up of 3 to 5 citizens of the district whose purpose is to select someone to fill the office in the event that the elected candidate cannot serve. Now I suppose that if the winning candidate is Republican or Democratic there are some party officials to select said person. In my case, after consulting some of my friends and neighbors, I filled in the spaces with three of their names. We all had a good laugh over the fact that on the outside chance that I did win and was somehow incapacitated, they would select a U.S. Congressman. More on this later.

Section “D” is where registered voters sign the “Nomination Paper.” They sign, print their name and address and date. The date is the last space to be filled in. It follows the address rather than after the signature so many signers instinctively put their zip code in the date block. I believe this is also intentional and would come back to haunt me later.

And so, I began to collect signatures. After work and in the evenings, I went door to door pleading my case. I explained that signing was not an endorsement but merely allowed my name to be placed on the ballot. Surprisingly nearly everyone signed. I even got one of the Township Supervisors, a staunch Republican, to sign. As spring turned to summer, I did some calculating and found that it would be difficult to secure the 1,000 signatures by the August 1st deadline. I therefore enlisted a dozen or so friends to help me with the signatures. As July wound down, I gathered all the sheets my friends had been given and secured an additional 25 signatures over the 1,000 for insurance. The sheets have forty lines for signatures and all the sheets have to be notarized. That means a minimum of 25 sheets. Fortunately, a sympathetic friend who was a notary, did the work gratis, saving me a couple of hundred dollars.

The Moment of Truth

Now came the moment of truth: Filing. I drove to Harrisburg, the state capitol, and presented my paperwork at the office of the Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation. A fine young man began to examine my signatures and all went well–at first. Several pages in he began highlighting the date section on some of the lines. Some of the forms submitted to me by my friends had a zip code in the space for the date. These signatures were disallowed because they were not dated. (So that’s why the date appears alongside the address instead of after the signature.) When he was finished, despite my 25 signature cushion, he announced that I was 10 signatures short.

Months of work for naught! It was eleven o’clock in the morning. The clerk said, “You have until 4 o’clock to get the 10 signatures.” Fortunately for me, my district was just across the Susquehanna River. Since it was a workday, and few people were home, I spent the next several hours securing 12 more signatures. My dear wife sat in the car while I canvassed the area. After getting the sheet notarized, I returned to the office. The same clerk verified the additional signatures and after I paid my $150 filing fee, I was officially a candidate for U.S. Congress for the 4th District of Pennsylvania!

As an aside, while in the office I noticed another filer who was not so fortunate. He was told in the morning that his sheets had not been notarized. So off he went to get that done. As circumstances would have it, he was back the same time as I was on my return trip. The clerk who was helping(?) him, now informed him that he had not filled out Part B “Committee to Fill Vacancies.” He asked if he could do that now. Of course, the answer was “no” as the sheets had been notarized and could not be altered. I could imagine how he felt because it nearly happened to me! Reminds me of a typical visit to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

My Campaign

Now my campaign officially began. With not much of a war chest I was at a severe disadvantage. A few friends contributed and I used about $2,000 of my own funds. This I used to have signs and literature printed. A farmer who rents some of my land to grow crops allowed me to place a sign on some of his land that abuts the interstate. A friend volunteered to build a web site. Being a longtime member of the NRA I called their Institute for Legislative Action for some help. Nope. They said they would not contribute nor endorse me but would advise callers that I was an NRA supporter. When my employer found out I was running I thought I might get some help from that direction. After all, having an employee or former employee in Congress would be a good thing, right? Nope. They informed me that I could not do campaign work during company time nor use the company computer for the same purpose. This I had already taken as a given.

Gradually the telephone began to ring and I was interviewed over the phone by local newspapers. I also got offers to speak at Chambers of Commerce and other organizations. I realized this was probably the best way to get my message of small government, debt-reduction and elimination of the deficit out to the public. Probably the low point of the campaign was an interview with the local newspaper to which all four candidates were invited. The fourth candidate being the Libertarian. The editorial board spent the best part of two hours grilling us on our positions on the issues. Then they endorsed no candidate suggesting the electorate write in the incumbent’s name who wasn’t running. Most disappointing was the fact that they dismissed my candidacy by saying it was not viable. They never commented on my positions on the issues! After that, I became very wary of the media.

Election Day and Election Night

Election Day came and I went out to do my civic duty. That night I sat in front of the television and watched as my name crawled across the bottom of the screen with the voting results. Early on I actually put up some good percentages. In the end the party machine steamrollered me. With the district being 3 to 1 Republican, that candidate won by a landslide with 59.7% of the vote. The Republican candidate spent over $200,000 on the campaign compared to my measly $2,000. I ended up with 11,524 votes or 3.8% of the total beating the Libertarian candidate nearly 2 to 1. So at least I didn’t come in last.

My takeaway on the entire process: While disappointing, it was quite enlightening. All of my lawn signs were stolen although the number of them compared to those of the mainstream candidates was minuscule. The treatment by the press was just a precursor of what was to come for conservatives in 2016 and 2020. The process, in my opinion, favors the incumbent and the two-party system.

What is the solution? I don’t know but I would encourage anyone who is inclined to seek office to do so. The more we learn about the process the more we can confront it.

When I was running, people would ask me why I was running for U.S. Congress rather than a local office. Being 60 years old at the time, I replied that I didn’t have the time to work my way up through the ranks. For you younger folks, I say, “Go for it.”




36 Comments

  1. I ran for county Board of Supervisors against a Black incumbent in a NAACP derived 65% Black majority district. He had run unopposed a couple times, and no one would give him a try.

    Turned out, I managed to get 41% of the vote, and got congratulatory calls despite losing.

    Farm Bureau had a class on how to run an election campaign, which was very good.

  2. We need more of us Christians running for office in a nation founded on Christian principles. As I said before antichrist principled souls enacting antichrist principled edicts automatically is treason in a Christian principled nation. They will and are overthrowing a Christian principled constitution and republic.

  3. W.W. Thank you for sharing your life experience of trying to make a difference. My hat off to your effort for just that. So many times people get moved to say something, but you put leg work to that urge to make a difference. You actually did something about your convictions of helping make that difference. When you are having coffee and looking back, take heart knowing that it’s your drive to get up and move that counts. There is a lot of talk going around, but you actually tried and just know there are some people out there that can relate to your efforts. Happy trails,

  4. I ran for and won a seat on my local HOA board over a very very large neighborhood in Austin Tx years ago. My goal was to reduce spending, get rid of no bid contracts, have some pocket parks put in, and clean up the corruption.

    I was elected on a ticket with a majority of new board members. We all won. A few months after we were seated the other like minded board members flipped and hated me and what I stood for, even though I was the head of the ticket and got them elected.

    Power corrupts, it was the worst 6 month experience I ever had. WW I struggle with wishing you would have won or thanking God that you didn’t.

  5. I can relate. I ran for our state legislature three times and won on the third go around. I ran as a Republican. Huge eye opener. Far too long of a story to get into here. I became thoroughly disgusted with the RINO’s who control the party. If anyone thinks that because the Republican’s are in control their liberty is safer they are totally disillusioned. Watch them closely folks. Do not trust many them to secure the principles on which this country was founded. Actively support those who are truly standing on liberty principles. They need your support. Get informed on all politicians how they vote on issues, you may be surprised that what they say and how they vote are two different horses.

  6. Overcoming the entrenched system is very difficult. With the current high level of disillusionment about anything to do with politicians, I wonder how a candidate would do running on a very limited platform focused mainly on laws putting all elected representatives on the same healthcare program as the voters, laws putting all elected representatives back on the Social Security program, passing laws for term limits, and laws preventing any elected official from anything related to lobbying for 10 years after they leave office.

  7. I know what it is like to run for office and lose. That is the time you find out what peoples values are. I did not realize how little honor and how many RINOs there are. It seemed that many only want someone that will do them a favor. A valuable lesson learned. Always go with God.

  8. First, congrats to your work and civic duty.

    Second, great example of the artificial barriers that were installed in THIS election to deal with the desired end goal of the Main Stream Media.

    Thankful for Florida, Idaho, Montana, Texas and all of the Patriots who know there is wood to chop and plenty of work to do.

  9. Thank you for sharing your experiences. The “parties” are deeply entrenched and in cahoots with one another. I’m kind of hoping a true third liberty party emerges from this election mess. I never thought it was possible before, but now I see a glimmer of light. We can then dump the Democrats and Republicans for good. I don’t think the parties’ leadership realize just how much we despise both of them. Many of us voted straight party line to get Trump re-elected, not because we necessarily appreciate the Republicans. As a lifelong Republican, I’m thoroughly disgusted with the corruption in both parties.
    My opinion only.

    1. Sarasue:

      Cahoots with a capital “C”. Just look at any guest on TV such as Fox News for example. A gal named Boothe just gave her conservative spiel. Looked her up and her father was a disciple of Washington D.C. That youngster is worth 10 million with an annual salary of 2 million. Look up all the talking heads as they appear. They are making the big buck with what qualifications? Wel, they are part of the in-crowd and laughing all the way to the bank. Those people sure take care of each other and they do it shamelessly. yet, we watch commercials asking for $20 to feed the poor Jewish holocaust survivors.

      It is infuriating to know that the common men and women of this country work hard for relatively little compensation and part money of it goes toward enriching these politicians and their relatives, their lovers, friends and therapy animals.

      It has been going on forever and nothing will change unless that EMP hits or we all go on strike and barter our way to freedom.

      Rant concluded …but look those folks up and note their backgrounds. They are ALWAYS associated with someone in the government, media, Hollywood or now probably Red China.

  10. The more I see of politics and politicians the more I think that they are the enemy of the people and freedom. All politicians, from both sides of the aisle. They may enter the political arena with honor and ideals, determined to do the best job they can for their constituents, but sometime after they get in office they are corrupted by the system.

    Mr Trump is the first that I’ve seen that has tried to stand up to the entrenched corruption, and look where it’s gotten him. He has been attacked from all sides, including his own.

    Through money, and power, and pandering. Through favours and blackmail. We have allowed to be created the one thing that the founding fathers sought to avoid – a political/ruling class. And they are not willing to give up that power, no matter what they have to do. They now know that they can do whatever they want, lie, cheat, steal, even kill and through control of the media, and social media they can write the narrative that people will believe.

  11. I am afraid I cracked up laughing when Trump expressed outrage over the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s rejection of his election challenges.

    https://www.foxnews.com/politics/trump-sunday-morning-futures-judges-election-lawsuits

    Without judging the merits of his case, I will simply note that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is dominated by Democrats — the result of a Democratic Attorney General attacking Republican judges on the court That Attorney General in turn went to prison for perjury, obstruction,etc. but managed to sabotage prosecutions of numerous corrupt Democrats.

    https://apnews.com/article/2315d3aea4f8405baf17cf99ec83fa9c

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathleen_Kane

    First things the Democrats did after seizing control of the court was to CHANGE our Congressional districts — evidently gerrymandering by unelected judges is superior to having the boundaries established by elected officials. The Supreme Court map issued in Feb 2018 helped numerous Democrats beat Republican incumbents in 2018 and was a factor in giving Democrats control of the US House in 2018.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redistricting_in_Pennsylvania#2018:_Pennsylvania_Supreme_Court_invalidating_the_2011_congressional_districts

    Welcome to Pennsylvania politics — deeply corrupt since the days when Big Railroad and Big Steel had their prostitutes execute the Civil War in order to steal the massive Pocahontas coal deposits of Virginia.

  12. Pennsylvania politics consists of the city of Philadelphia fighting the rest of the state. Philadelphia’s main newspaper is the Philadelphia Inquirer which had trouble surviving in the free market — so Democrats set up a scheme whereby the newspaper would be something hilariously called a “public benefit” corporation.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Philadelphia_Inquirer

    What this means is that rich Democrats can plow money into a partisan propaganda paper and take a TAX DEDUCTION while doing so. Even though federal law says charity organizations are not supposed to engaged in politics.

    This is not the only such Democrat “charity” — much gun control campaigning is done by the Joyce Foundation in Chicago — which operates as tax exempt because it claims its gun control campaign is for “public health”. Of course, it ain’t too healthy to be on the streets of Chicago is you don’t have the means to defend yourself.

    Meanwhile we poor peasants have to make political donations with whatever after tax savings we can scrounge up. And any newspaper speaking on our behalf has to pay taxes as well.

  13. I agree with you, TL Canadian. Though I’m afraid we aren’t giving the pols their due credit when it comes to finances. I fear the players in both political parties fully understand what the looming debt crisis will bring and have their fully stocked and guarded bunkers ready to go. They’ll have their fiat currency out of the system just before the balloon pops and will be on extended leave during the crisis. But no fear – they’ll be back to insure our smothering safety – after the carnage has transpired and the smoke has cleared. They’ll also be back to convert their bullion back to the new sovereign currency ready to make more on the backs of the peasantry.

    We are Rome.

  14. Kudos to the Author for trying to change the system. My beliefs run across the political spectrum but I have observed the following. The two parties have rigged the system creating barriers to entry, some mentioned by the author. It takes money and support of a major party to win partisan elections. Once in office partisan politicians do the bidding of the money and party that enabled their victory, not the will of the people and especially not what is best for Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Many things need to change for the country to turn around, but I’d start with politicians who fear being replaced, and not with someone farther to the left or right, but replaced with someone who actually works and votes for the best interests of their constituents. After the politicians there needs to be change in the voters, and a host of other factors. I’m not optimistic so some of my prepping is for economic/political hurt to collapse. Worst case is French revolution, but this is just my concern.

  15. I do not know who posted it here on SB but the suggestion was an EMP to take out the digital tyranny that exist today.
    That would make things equal for a time.

    Now back to reality, the left has epic power and it showed in running a man that is not mentally well and with obvious corruption in his past and yet he will be the next President.
    It’s obvious to me Americans votes to any political position are irrelevant now.
    The bad news of these events, it makes a fracturing of the Republic highly likely.

    1. Skip; I’m not sure that the fracturing of the Republic is necessarily a bad thing. In the long run it may allow people to choose how they wish to live and be governed.

      I do agree with the highly likely part. I’d almost go as far as inevitable with the present situation.

  16. I had a bittersweet laugh at your tale of gathering signatures. While I’ve never run for public office myself, I had a friend who ran for U.S. Rep in our deep blue state as a Republican many years ago and we spent many days gathering signatures at the TOWN LANDFILL (dump) because that was the most efficient place to meet people and gather lots of signatures. People will sign anything if you offer to help them carry their recycle bins to the shredder 🙂 Of course our guy got “trounced,” but it was an interesting exercise in democracy. This past election, I dragged my two teenagers to stand at a busy intersection, holding a candidate’s sign, and wave at cars for the local Republican in-state representative. Surprisingly, he narrowly WON in this deep blue state. I felt it was important to teach my kids that the proper way to redress grievances is to run for office, or roll up your sleeves and SHOW UP to help the guy who is willing to run for office, not all this AntiFa / BLM street violence.

  17. I agree wholeheartedly with the paperwork nightmare I saw it first hand when I signed for our local lady running for office here in upstate NY. Shes a scapper in a hard fought campaign who may have lost by 12 votes. She was ahead on election night by 28,000. They are still checking.

  18. When I ran I had T-shirts made all red with black letters saying “WHO BOUGHT CONGRESS TODAY” … I ran as a Constitutionalist and had no illusions of winning; that wasn’t my aim. I wanted to get the message of the Constitution out. I refused to accept any Federal Reserve Notes from anyone, but I did ask for gold or silver coin at the many candidate forums I was invited to. (Segway into WHY?? opportunity at the forums) and knowing that my opponents didn’t have a clue about the subject matter….

    My goal was very successful I believe, because the Human Rights Netwits labeled me a “Dangerous Threat” to the Republican Party, and I actually got almost 4% of the vote … not certain how many of those voters may have been dead though.

    But no one could walk away from any of the public forums I was given 5 to 15 minutes of time in with out knowing at least something more important that was totally outside the normal political drivel that pervades our current and past elections.

    I had a blast … in the end I did get gold & silver donations, as well as in kind for some signs which mostly were used for target practice or stolen … I was using the term FAKE MEDIA back then (1996) and they sure didn’t like that so as the saying goes, if you are getting a lot of flack … you must be over the target.

    After the election I had a bit of a run in with the FEC because they didn’t have any way to figure out the gold & silver donations listed on my C5 forms since they didn’t consider it currency … charges were filed but when I spoke with the judge and pointed out the Constitution regarding gold and silver coin as a tender for the payment of debt he rejected the case as not being of merit. Interesting … never heard anymore except for the Human Rights Nitwits again calling me a dangerous threat to the Republican Party …

    Folks, its all a dawg & pony show until we break the two parties that are in essence one in the same entity.

      1. I meant to add this.

        “If you’ve got 300 million people, most of whom produce nothing for themselves or for the community and to whom everything has to be brought from somewhere else, then there’s no way you’re going to have limited government, or limited anything. All organizations feed upon the helplessness and ignorance and passivity of the people.”–Wendell Berry

        Carry on

  19. Thank you to the writer for trying to change the system. There is corruption on both sides now, and a quiet attempted ‘coup’ of the US. I agree that an EMP would get things back to basics, but very painful in the short term. Hopefully, we are all praying, multiple times a day, that justice will see the light…… before inauguration day. In the meantime, prepare to provide for your family and others, as the Lord allows. Know your land for foraging….decide what is and is not important.

  20. Good grief!

    I wasted a year of my precious time on the board of our church.

    I instantly realized nobody wanted anything accomplished.
    To prevent any vote for any proposal, the marxists wasted hours at each board meeting to argue back-n-forth against each other… about inconsequential minutiae.

    Inconsequential Proposal:
    * Should we hire a janitorial service?

    Inconsequential Discussions:
    * The marxists argued for hours about the softness of toilet paper, the scent of the deodorizer, the timing of each servicing, and a thousand other opportunities to appear as though they were ‘contributing to the dialogue’ to ‘reach consensus’.

    And after a few minutes at my first board meeting, I realized something else… the marxists hate you if you laugh at them.

  21. ran for school board 15 years ago (no party affiliation – however, only liberals need apply….) current board found and backed someone to run against me. I had asked them too many questions and wrote/spoke against the excess budgets for years

    lost by 200 votes

    system is definitely stacked against anyone of moral character – with the treason that has happened in this past election – with no repercussions – our future is bleak

    I thank God for sparing me that mess but as I look at the mess our leaders are – I cannot help feeling defeated.

    God is in control but we are getting what our country deserves.

    I now pray for revival and prepare for end.

  22. I am in the legislature of my state, elected as a Republican. My Democratic opponent in my first election outspent me 5:1 but lost nonetheless. My goal is to keep my state a place of common sense as the nation around us goes to hell in a handbasket. When I ran the first time I relied on “Running God’s Way” by Vicky Hartzler, who is a congresswoman from Missouri. All politicians are flawed human beings, as is everyone else. I am often tempted to give up the fight, but so far I keep going.

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