In 2006, I had considered running again for U.S. Senate as a candidate with the Independence Party. I had posted a notice of my interest on an Internet discussion list, created a campaign website, and spoken with the party chair, Jim Moore, about possibly running for office. I decided not to run for personal reasons. My landlord business had become increasingly difficult, I was losing money, and my health was not quite what it should have been.
So, in a year when the Independence Party seemed to have bright prospects in gubernatorial candidate Peter Hutchinson and his team of fellow candidates for statewide office, I abstained from seeking public office and instead threw myself into Tammy Lee’s campaign for Congress in the 5th district. Tammy Lee, campaigning for a vacant seat, received almost 22% of the Congressional vote. (She is now vice president for corporate affairs of Delta Airlines.) Peter Hutchinson received around 6% of the total vote for Governor in the general election. (He has become the head of the Bush Foundation.) The Independence Party candidate for U.S. Senate, Robert Fitzgerald, received around 3% of the total vote. (He ran as a Democrat for U.S. Senate in 2008 but lost to Al Franken in the primary.)
My intention was to run for U.S. Senate in 2008. Why this office?
First, I learned from my campaign in 2002 that a relatively unknown candidate such as me can still gain a respectable number of votes by driving around to small and medium-sized towns in a state like Minnesota to visit newspaper offices. The editors and political reporters will generally give some coverage because you, the candidate, had created “local news” in traveling to their town. You cared enough to do that and were willing to work. Maybe your campaign would go places. A good campaign photo would amplify that impression with voters.
I knew that I had a certain advantage because I was willing to work hard in my campaigns - actually visit places that the leading candidates might not visit - and I had a clear, albeit controversial, message. Whether my personality would appeal to voters was of secondary importance. Also, I was running to gain publicity for a particular issue - in this case, a proposal related to trade policy. Statewide campaigns are more apt to receive coverage than local ones. A candidate for U.S. Senate is expected to have proposals on trade and such matters.
Finally, I knew that I had enemies at the Star Tribune newspaper in Minneapolis which would be the dominant reporting medium if I ran for local office. Some editors might have considered me a white racist for my 2002 campaign plank supporting “dignity for white males”. If that were not enough, I had once brought a complaint against the Star Tribune to the Minnesota News Council. I would therefore be at a disadvantage if I ran for mayor or the city council, for the state legislature, or any other office in the Minneapolis area. The Star Tribune political team does not suffer heretics lightly. Silence is its weapon of choice.
Therefore, I set my sights on the Independence Party endorsement for U.S. Senate. The leading contender was Stephen Williams of Austin, Minnesota, who had unsuccessfully sought the party’s Senate endorsement in 2006. Originally from the Twin Cities, he had been a farmer in the southern part of the state for more than twenty years. Williams announced early and had appeared as a candidate at numerous party functions. Several times during the spring I wanted to tell Williams of my interest in running but never found a suitable opportunity to talk with him until a month or so before the endorsing convention.
Another candidate who emerged later as a candidate was Kurt Anderson, a Minneapolis attorney who had been the campaign treasurer in Tim Penny’s 2002 gubernatorial race. I knew Anderson well since he had represented my late brother in a mental-health case. In fact, he had argued and won a significant case for my brother before the Minnesota Supreme Court. I often saw Kurt at party gatherings and even encouraged him to run for elective office. However, I did not know until May that he, too, had his eye on the Senate race.
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