This post is the third in a continuing feature of independent candidate’s responses to roundtable questions posed by Independent Voters of America. Independent Voters of America has been reaching out to independent and third party candidates across the country to gather their opinions and insights on issues of interest to our community.
For this post we wanted to look at the reality of campaigning as an independent without major party support, knowing that can be immensely challenging. We were curious to hear how independent candidates are defying these odds with creativity, gall and determination to connect with voters. Contributors to this roundtable are the same group of candidates as our first two posts in the series:
Jack Arnold – Candidate for Congress in Tennessee’s 7th District.
James Windle – Candidate for Congress in Washington’s 8th District.
Tisha Casida – Candidate for Congress in Colorado’s 3rd District.
Karen Ramsburg – Candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 9th District.
Phil Dodds – Candidate for Congress in Florida’s 3rd District.
The question posed to the candidates was:
“Campaigning without the support of a party structure poses added challenges to a campaign. Are there any novel ideas or campaign tactics you’ll use to reach out to the voters?”
Jack Arnold: I plan to campaign from a fishing boat in August and September; at present, I’m using creative, cheap online “guerrilla” marketing tactics to reach voters in my district. But my real campaigning will be a retail coverage of the district in-person starting in August.
Phil Dodds: I will be running on a pledge that speaks to all citizens. Representatives should serve the voters and not anyone else. First, elected officials should not take money from lobbyists and special interests. Second, Employing ’direct democracy’ to ask voters what they want – and then truly representing them in Congress. I work in software development; for Direct Democracy, a group of software engineers are getting together to build the first, surprisingly, online site that will allow elected officials to poll their constituents. Once that is up, voters will be able to sign up and start voting! Third, I have a social media effort. I’m active online, on Facebook, and Twitter, and will be reaching out to the media and local organizations looking to get the word out.
Everyone who has spoken with me has been supportive. The problem is not the ideas, but the awareness. I do not get 5 minutes one on one with each voter. Without a huge war chest, my campaign will rely on the inspiration of the people. If they sign up to volunteer or donate some money, maybe we can be example to the country on how to get money out of politics and restore democracy.
James Windle: I have an extremely talented and diverse set of advisors constantly working to develop innovative policies and strategies to move both the District and country forward. My candidacy is based on the strength of my ideas that are not constrained by party platforms and focus on how to most effectively solve problems. It is an area where I am certain that I have a clear advantage over the candidates of the political parties. At this early stage of the campaign, however, we are not ready to completely show our hand.
I can say that every Independent would be wise to use social media as a low-cost way of expanding their reach. We are extremely active in social media and spend a lot of time keeping our content fresh. Social media, however, does not penetrate critical demographic groups such as seniors and isolated, rural areas in this District. To run an effective campaign in today’s media-saturated environment you have to mix non-traditional, cutting-edge strategies with old-fashioned face-to-face contact with people.
I am using a coffee shop campaign as a way of reaching out to various places throughout Washington’s 8th District. Nearly every morning, I sit with my morning coffee and newspaper somewhere in the District. I try and strike up a conversation or two to get a sense of what is on people’s minds. Too often polls and advisors have candidates telling voters what is on their minds. People are smarter than the parties think. That is why I’d rather consult the people directly to hear what they have to say.
Tisha Casida: Yes – we are working closely with Colorado citizens to actively engage with each other, with local officials, and with State representatives to counter back against federal agencies that are harming these citizens’ quality of life. We’re also working on creating new monetary systems that are transparent and sound, and different than the Federal Reserve system. We are reaching out to voters by pounding the pavement. Our congressional district is nearly 45,000 square miles of turf to cover, and we spend as much time as we can with events and settings where we can meet people face-to-face, in a non-threatening environment, and where we can have civil conversations about solutions.
Karen Ramsburg: Our campaign is taking a unique approach to real issues of concern to Pennsylvania voters: We are offering a novel resolution to the debate on health care that recognizes the contributions of the best thinkers on the right and the left. We are committed to a thriving, competitive, largely unfettered private health care sector regulated only for quality and legality.
We are also reaching out to disaffected voters in both parties with an independent message stressing national economic sovereignty, and an explicit call to extricate the country from the suicidal, nearly treasonous trade relations we’ve established with slave-wage labour countries like China. We are hammering the issue of the “Wal-Mart” economy, and the one-way flow of wealth and productive assets out of the United States.
Over the coming weeks, we’re looking forward to continuing this series with more answers from these candidates and others to pertinent questions of interest to our Independent Voters of America community. If you have a question you’d like addressed in a future roundtable, leave it in the comments.