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JO FREEMAN'S CAMPAIGN DIARY
CRANSTON FOR PRESIDENT CAMPAIGN - 1984
Part 2

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1/7/84— We are now having staff meetings every Saturday at 11:00. Cranston buttonWhile the timing of them is probably to make sure we all come in that day, early, I think it's good to have them. My first few weeks here there were no staff meetings and I really felt like I didn't know what was going on. I'm not all that sure the meetings are meant to be for our edification. They seem more to propagandize us and tell us how to propagandize our state contacts. For example, we have been constantly urged to scale down our expectations of AC's performance in Iowa and New Hampshire. A memo on this subject was circulated last fall. Since how a candidate does in these states is less important than how the press perceives him to do we, and I guess the other campaigns, are trying to manipulate press expectations. Our strategy is to divide the race into two levels. The first tier is a contest between frontrunners Mondale and Glenn. The second tier is a contest between every one else. We want being first among the second tier (i.e. third) to be perceived as an impressive victory. We don't want the press to paint the early races as ones between us and Glenn for second place, because anything less than a clear lead over Glenn will be interpreted as a defeat.
This strategy was put into place with a press conference December 15 in which Sergio sounded very dismal about our prospects. I didn't go to the press conference, don't know what he really said and know the press rarely captures the nuances of anything, but I got a lot of negative feedback on this from my states. The stories interpreted Sergio as "throwing in the towel." My people were discouraged. This made me feel this strategy had been counterproductive, but my suggestion to that effect to Mark was pooh-poohed. Our job, we were told, was to correct this misimpression among our state supporters by carefully clueing them into what we were doing.
This staff meeting makes me think Sergio has shifted from manipulating the expectations of the press to manipulating ours, or at least urging us to manipulate those of our supporters. He made a point of saying that we should not let our people expect more than a strong third in Iowa and New Hampshire, and referred to the "lady from Minnesota here the other day" as someone who had expectations that were too high. An indirect rap on my knuckles I suppose. However, I think he's wrong about this. It's necessary for our people to think we are doing well in order to keep them from getting discouraged. So many people are supporting Mondale when they like AC better because they think AC doesn't have a chance, I can't see telling our best people that things aren't going well. Besides the polls from Iowa and New Hampshire show we are moving up. The Des Moines Register said that between September and November AC moved up 10 points among those most likely to go to the caucuses. With 12 percent, we are now within striking distance of Glenn who has dropped 11 points to 16. Mondale dropped 4 to 42. The only other candidate to rise was Jackson who went from 2 to 3 percent. McGovern stayed at 8 percent. Hart went from 4 to 3 percent and Askew from one to zero. The key cause of our rise was our two weeks of TV commercials just prior to the November polls.
In New Hampshire we are also third, but with only 6 percent. The Boston Globe reported today the results of a poll done for an arms control group by Pat Caddell between Dec. 21 and 29. Among registered Democrats and independents eligible to vote in the Feb. 28 primary Mondale was preferred by 32 percent; Glenn by 11 percent; AC by 6 percent; McGovern by 6 percent, Hart by 4 percent, Jackson by 3 percent and Askew by 2 percent. Hollings received no support. But 37 percent were undecided. The poll found that 79 percent favored a mutual nuclear freeze, but that Cranston has been unable to capture a substantial following among freeze advocates. Sergio, who reported these results, offered no explanation on why not.

 

Organizationally, the campaign is trifurcated. The top tier consists of Iowa and New Hampshire, which get the lion's share of the resources. They are the direct responsibility of Tom Pazzi, even though he resides in the national office and each state has its own co-ordinator and staff. The second tier consists of targeted states such as Alabama, Florida, Washington, Maine, Massachusetts, Illinois and Wisconsin. These plus the two fundraising states, New York and California, have full time staff in them. They are states with early primaries or caucuses, in which we have to do well to stay alive. The third tier consists of the remaining states and other units which select delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Mark Cohen is responsible for all states but Iowa and New Hampshire. Under him are the Desk Officers, or APDs who run the non-targeted states or act as liaisons for the targeted states. There are nine of us right now. Not all of the 55 delegate selection units under Mark have APDs in charge. A couple are run by volunteers out of their homes or who come in evenings and weekends. A couple are run by Senate staffers, presumably on their own time. And some are not yet run by anyone.
The National Office has three Groups: Message, Political and Finance. The organization hasn't been constant over time and is still somewhat fluid. There used by be a Field Director who was in charge of the targeted states but he was assigned to travel with AC and Mark took over field. Scheduling and Headquarters (i.e. administration) still report directly to Pazzi even though Mark now heads the Political Group in which they are ostensibly located. John Russonello is head of Message and Mike Novelli is head of Finance. Under Message is Press and Issues. Russonello is also the chief press officer. I'm not too sure what the issues people do except answer questionnaires sent to us by groups considering endorsement, and point staff to the file where issue papers are kept when we need one. Issues Director Suzanne Farmer used to work in Field. Mark said she was made head of Issues because "she didn't work out" in Field and "besides, we needed to have a woman over there." Under Finance is Treasury, Direct Mail and Fundraising. Treasury collects the money as it comes in, processes it, files reports with the Federal Election Commission, and pays the bills. Fundraising solicits donations, sends out mailings and runs events. Its head, Sharyn Fallick, used to be the National Finance Director, but Mike Novelli was brought in on top of her.
Monica told the NOW conventioneers that Fundraising was entirely composed of women (true) and that more of the top people in our campaign were women than in Mondale's campaign. That requires a broad definition of "top." I don't know how Mondale's campaign is organized, but the five top honchos in this one are all white men. There are three units headed by women under these men, though it's not perfectly clear to me exactly how many units there are, (depending on how they are counted it could be between 8 and 11). But these units, Fundraising, Issues, and Headquarters, only have women working in them (except for volunteers). A very traditional arrangement. Bragging about how many women head departments doesn't mean much when the only people working under them are also women.
1/9/84— Frank Scheuren, our gay leader in Georgia, was hit by a car last week and is laid up with a broken leg. He'll still try to make phone calls for us but I had hoped he'd take a leadership position as he's very committed and unemployed. I had suggested to Mark that if he hired a full time person in Georgia, he might be the one. Frank was supposed to help me slate the 8th CD, the one place where I have no one. (We had only two people there on our lists: one turned out to be a registered Republican, and the other had switched to Hollings). He said there is a thriving gay community in Macon, which is in the 8th. I told him to feel free to put together a completely gay slate, as long as it was sexually and racially balanced. Now I wonder if we'll get anyone in the 8th.
Elaine Snyder as decided not to file for us in the 7th CD. She "talked things over" with her friends and feels committed to go to the Mondale caucus on Jan 28 to vote for a friend. However, she will send us a check instead. I called another woman in the 9th CD who had previously agreed to file. She is a nursing student in a far northern county, and has changed her mind now that she sees how busy she is. My spiel about not having to do anything but fill out the form fell on deaf ears.
I am just beginning to get a sense of how the different delegate selection processes take place. I have not been able to see a copy of the DNC Convention Call, as Mark is loath to loan his out and I haven't visited the DNC to get one of my own. Most delegates are selected at the district level, though additional delegates are selected at-large, and another set is composed of party leaders and elected officials. Although each state is a little bit different there are two main types of systems: primaries and caucuses. In primary states, voters go to a polling place and vote for their choice of either Presidential or delegate candidates. In caucus states they congregate, often for several hours, at a designated place, where they are counted. Both systems require a minimum of between 20 and 30 percent of the vote per unit to elect a single delegate. In caucuses participants have the option of relocating if their first choice has less than the threshold whereas in primary states if one's candidate fails to meet the threshold in the particular unit (which can be no larger than a CD but may be smaller) one's vote simply doesn't count. However, since caucuses take a lot longer and are a lot more complicated, fewer people participate. States also differ in their registration requirements. Cross-over states merely require that one show up and declare oneself a Democrat. Other states require that one be registered as a Democrat.
There are three types of primaries. Those states opting for proportional representation allocate delegates in proportion to the percentage of the primary vote won in the electoral district by the presidential candidates meeting the threshold. South Dakota uses this system. Under the bonus delegate plan, one delegate per electoral district is given to the winner of the primary in that district, and the rest are distributed proportionally. Georgia uses this system. Both states have caucuses prior to the primary to determine rank orders of the delegates filed in each district for each candidate. Whoever comes to those caucuses meets in candidate subcaucuses to vote. In South Dakota there is an initial caucus in each State Senate district, which in turn elects delegates to the CD or State convention (there's only one CD in South Dakota). The latter vote on those who filed for delegate. In Georgia there is only one caucus in each of the 10 CDs. In both states, if no one shows for a candidate at the CD caucus, no delegates can be elected. What happens if a candidate is subsequently entitled to delegates in that unit as a result of the primary the party officials have not yet decided.
A third type are direct election primaries in which the delegate candidates are voted on directly. None of my states use this system, so I don't know exactly how it works. My previous experience with direct election primaries was with two very different types. In Illinois in 1972, each individual delegate candidate filed petitions for a spot on the ballot and declared the candidate to which they were committed, or if they were uncommitted. I filed committed to Shirley Chisholm in Chicago's 1st CD that year because that was the only way to get her name on the ballot. Twenty-four people filed, eight of whom could be elected. The candidates had no control over who filed in their names, or how many did so. The Daley Machine had eight people file uncommitted. Needless to say, they were all elected. I came in 9th, beating delegate candidates committed to McGovern and Kennedy, as well as additional uncommitted. Under this system, delegate candidates with well-known names and strong organizations have an edge. Current rules may prohibit this, but I don't know for sure.
In New York in 1976, each candidate filed delegates slates selected by the candidate's representatives in each CD. While the delegate's names were on the ballots, they were listed under that of their Presidential candidates. I was a Fred Harris delegate. Voters picked the presidential candidate they preferred, and then voted for those listed under that name. Although not all the delegates pledged to a given candidate got the same number of votes, in no case were delegates for two different Presidential candidates elected in a CD. This created a de facto winner take all system. Having a "name" did not help if you weren't pledged to the preferred Presidential candidate in that district. Bella Abzug ran an uncommitted slate with her name at the top in her former CD, but it lost to the Carter slate.
1/10/84— Spent the morning looking up numbers in a New Hampshire phone book and putting them on the computer printout. I suppose this is for the phone bank there since we do the surveys here, though we weren't told exactly what it was for, merely that everyone has to do it. I wonder why we can't buy this.
After that I worked on North and South Dakota; a dismal task. North Dakota has a caucus system much like that of Minnesota but only one CD. On a designated day in March local caucuses elect representatives to a state meeting. This is the equivalent of the CD caucus in states with more than one CD. At the state meeting delegates are selected. A secretary in the Party HQ sent me a xerox of a Congressional Quarterly article which explains the procedure and likely outcome. I certainly couldn't figure it out by reading the delegate selection plan. The article said ND usually sends uncommitted delegates or ones committed to an issue cluster designated by a subcaucus. Thus it doesn't sound like we'd get any delegates from them if we tried, and we have nothing to try with.
We have three supporters in North Dakota. One is a politically active lawyer in Fargo who said he'd organize the state for us, but backed out in November. Leo Wilking said he'd decided to devote his scarce time to some statewide campaigns. I think the real reason is that he couldn't find any support for AC and like most pols prefers to lead only when he knows he has followers. I had personally phoned all 52 of the State legislative district chairs, and the best I could get was a promise by them to ask around if anyone was interested in working for us. If they did, there were no results. The party had its annual big bash November 19, this time celebrating Sen. Quentin Burdick's 25 years in Congress. All the Presidential candidates were invited to speak, though only McGovern accepted, and he didn't show. The rest sent short tapes which were shown to a couple hundred people. About 400 people cast straw poll ballots in which we practically came in last with 1.4 percent. (Mondale 53.6, Glenn 13.4, Hart 10.4, Jackson 9.5, Hollings 4.4, McGovern 3.6, Others 1.4). I figure that's about six votes and I can guess who two of them are (I sure wish I knew who the other four were, but no one signed our sign up sheet).

 

It's not that people dislike AC. They just don't know anything about him, and aren't too interested in Presidential politics right now. Neither he nor a representative has been in the State, and there have been no mailings. We recently bought a list of 2145 party activists (current officials and past state convention delegates) but there's no money to send anything to them. I asked our lawyer to draw up a plan of action for us given this reality. Should we write off the state? Should we wait until the 900 or so state convention delegates are selected and then hope we can blitz them into supporting us (assuming we have the money to do so)? Or should we wait until the National Convention delegates are selected, hope they are not committed to another candidate, and work on them?
Our second supporter is Janet Cheney, an active NOW member, who sent me some names to contact with the admonition not to use her name as the referent, and who has a demanding job which leaves her no time to do anything for us. She did make sure the literature I sent was put out, along with the sign up sheet, and gave me a report on the meeting. She also took possession of the tape afterwards so we'd know where it is in the state should we need it.
Our third person called me a few weeks ago. Doug Nassif is a local freeze activist, not active in the Party, but who may be able to mobilize some grass roots support. What we can do with it I don't know. It's not enough to organize a Cranston subcaucus by the deadline. I sent him some literature and had him call Sally in Minnesota for ideas. She suggested he organize a busload of people to go to Iowa and join their convoy in Minneapolis. Doug feels he can do this, but we aren't sure we can use busloads of people the weekend before Iowa and don't really have any place to put them should they show up. What we want is a few people willing to spend a few weeks there, not a lot of people who don't have much time. We're working Iowa by phone banks, and its not feasible to put in phones for a weekend. Doug did get a short blurb in the Bismarck Tribune on his organizing efforts, even though they haven't happened yet. He tells me he has 25 supporters, but hasn't sent any names.
In South Dakota I have four people, and one joined us because she's a personal friend. All are heavily involved in demanding jobs and have little time. None are party activists; they come from the peace and feminist movements. However, they at least sent me lots of names. I have about 200 now, and have prepared a letter to send if I can ever get it out. I was putting the names in the computer last November, when I learned that we would be switching computer systems, and anything I did might not transfer, so I stopped. I was also told that since SD has a June 5 primary it was on the low end of the priority list, and every other demand on computer time would come first.
However, the deadline for filing for delegates is coming up. I read the lengthy delegate selection plan and couldn't understand it at all so called Larry Thompson, the SD Democratic Party's executive director. He said no one else understands it either, and he wrote it. But it only took a couple minutes for him to explain it. SD has a system similar to Georgia's except there's only one CD and therefore only one CD caucus--on March 3 in Pierre, the state capitol. On Feb. 4 each State Senate district will have caucus meetings in which the different candidate subcaucuses will elect from 4 to 8 delegates to the CD caucus. Between Feb. 6 and 15 individuals can file for delegate. They will be voted on by their individual candidate subcaucuses on March 3 to determine the rankings for the 11 delegate and 3 alternate positions. Unlike Georgia, their names will be on the ballot. We don't have 14 people and it's dubious we'd need them even if we're flying high on June 5. But we don't want the ballot to show white space so we need 14 filers. We also need at least one person willing to attend a Senate district meeting to be elected by the Cranston subcaucus to the CD meeting, and then attend it to elect the slate. That may be harder to find than the 14 filers because Pierre is a town of 13,000 in the middle of a large rural state, several hundred miles from our closest supporter.
If I can get my letter out, I'm hoping it will mine a few supporters, or at least enough response for productive follow-up phone calls. But I don't have much time left. Alex Thurber, our computer jocky, hasn't written the data entry program for the new system, and also hasn't programmed the computer to print the envelopes. However, most of my 200 names are now in the computer under the mail/merge option, which means they'll have to be re-entered to be on the permanent list. In the meantime, we have run out of printed envelopes, so I will have to use blank ones with the Cranston return address stamp, which is tacky. We have also run out of return envelopes, which means I will have to ask addressees to supply their own envelopes to respond to my query. My experience is that when there is no envelope I only respond to things I'm very enthusiastic about, and I doubt I'll find much of that for AC in SD. I'll settle for mild interest, but the lack of return envelopes will cut into that response. When I first wrote this letter in November we had several hundred return envelopes but I can't find any now and no one knows what they might have been used for. I should have hidden some. Everyone else in this office hoards. It's a common reaction to scarcity in all social systems. On the other hand it shouldn't have taken a month to get the copy approved (especially since few changes were made).
Apart from the envelopes, we don't have any literature to enclose, or any postage. Our best brochure, "Duel with Destiny", is out of date, though I'll use it if I can find enough of them. The issue papers and bio articles don't provide a condensed review of AC's positions. Mark will make a special requisition for the postage, but I'll get no help on the mailing and it needs to go out very quickly if we are to get any delegates from it.
I called two of our four supporters and they said they'd file. Couldn't reach the other two. Ina, my feminist friend, put me on to another supporter, a student at USD. Caught up with him only to learn most of his time is devoted to a nuclear waste dump initiative, with a February deadline. He will file for us, and may make some phone calls to his friends, but doesn't want to do anything public because he's working with some "pretty conservative folk" on the initiative and doesn't want to alienate them by association with so liberal a candidate.

 
When I asked a Jackson supporter for a button for me, I also asked for one for Cathy. Since she did call people in Poughkeepsie for me, however unproductively, I should supply her with what's probably the only Jackson button in Dutchess County. I got into an argument with the person who gave me the buttons. She said it would be a "magnanimous gesture" for AC to throw his support to Jackson. I told her what happen at the December 11 New York NDC endorsement meeting where the local Jackson people sold us out. We knew we had at least 50 percent of the votes, but 60 percent was necessary for endorsement. NDC has several ballots with the lowest person dropping out each time (except "no-endorsement" which always stays on). Once the contest is down to two people, if a second ballot doesn't result in an endorsement, no-endorsement wins. We were told that Jesse and Alan had made a personal agreement that the former's support would be shifted to us after he dropped off. But somehow this message wasn't communicated to the local organizers, Deputy Mayor David Dinkins and Assemblyman Al Vann, and they refused to honor it. Since all the local public officials support Mondale, I suspect they had their own arrangement with them to thwart our endorsement. On his last ballot, Jackson got 15.6 percent, we had 48.3, Mondale had 32.1 and "no endorsement" got 4 percent. Dinkins and Vann strongly urged their people to vote "no-endorsement" which they did. On the fifth and final ballot AC got 53.2 percent, Mondale got 38.7 and "no endorsement" got 8 percent. We got about two inches of press on this the next day, but none of the NDC resources that supposedly come with an endorsement. I don't know all of resources we spent trying to get this endorsement (I know we had a hospitality suite, and AC made personal phone calls to many NDC delegates) but it was an expensive loss for a resource scarce campaign.
My rendition of this sell-out to the DC Jackson supporter only elicited her comment that they did the right thing. When I asked why we should support Jackson in DC when we were sold out in New York, she said something to the effect that as a white male "who has never been on a peace march" Cranston should defer to a black leader of a social movement. I couldn't figure out the logic of this and decided to leave before we exchanged hotter words.
The Gertrude Stein Club was permitting any member to vote; anyone could join prior to the end of the balloting, and the membership fee had been doubled to $25. The real contest was between Jackson and Mondale. Jackson was supported by the city's black power structure, and anyone who wanted a future in D.C. politics found supporting him to be the politically correct thing to do. However, the speculation was that Mondale would "buy" the endorsement by financing enough memberships. There was of course no proof, merely speculation. I wonder how such an expense would be reported on the FEC forms. I also wonder why the campaign would do this. Is it really worth real money to get an endorsement, when each candidate's supporters are going to work for him anyway, regardless of what the club does? The nightly news said $15,000 was at stake as well as the club's mailing list. I'm surprised that any club would have that kind of spare cash, the election laws won't permit more than $5,000 to be donated to a single candidate and the mailing list is worth more before the endorsement than after it when people's commitment has jelled.
Each candidate was permitted three speakers, for five minutes each, and questions. We were third. Jackson had Mayor Marion Barry, a local white lesbian feminist, and the local black head of his campaign. There were a couple hundred people in the rather small room, two TV cameras, several reporters, and heaven only knows who else. A sign directed those who did not want to be photographed to stay in the back of the room or the far side. I don't know why gays who aren't out would be active in a Democratic Club, but the front of the room had empty seats while in the back there was barely standing room. It was virtually all white men. The few women were at least half NOW representatives. There were fewer blacks. Both blacks and women were proportionately greater among the speakers than among the audience. The mayor made a crowd-pleasing speech. Jackson will "expand the base" he said. The token feminist said "he knows oppression." First hand, I thought. He's hardly a feminist, and I'm sure his wife isn't. Mondale also had two men and a woman: his local gay co-ordinator, National NOW President Judy Goldsmith, and a black AFL employee. Judy explained the careful search NOW had made before making its historic first endorsement. Her main points were that only Mondale could beat Reagan and everyone else in the progressive community was supporting him. By this of course she meant the AFL, whose lead NOW was following. When asked during the question period what kind of legislation Mondale would support to end discrimination against gays (only Cranston has sponsored the federal gay civil rights bill), she had no answer. The Mondale crew won on the applause meter. Judy and the Mayor were the only ones on the news that night.
We also had two men and a woman but half the audience left the room before anyone spoke. Mark told how only AC has met the criteria set down by gay organizations for their support. After pointing out that Mondale's promises to the AFL and NEA left no room in his delegate slates for other groups, he listed the states in which we are slating gays--including Georgia of course. I thought to myself, we may be generous, but it's not because we are having to make hard choices. In some of these states we'll take anyone who can sign their name. Our gay co-ordinator gave a rather stilted speech; he sounded nervous. Our lesbian co-ordinator was also supposed to be there to speak on women and women's issues, and as a black known to the club she would have been an asset. But she didn't show, so I was pressed into service. I didn't have AC's record on women on the tip of my tongue, let alone a prepared speech, but with a little notice I can speak for five minutes on almost anything. We didn't get any questions.
 

We also didn't get any votes, or virtually none. After the McGovern (represented by two very young white men) and Hollings (one middle-aged white male) presentations the ballots were counted. Mondale won the endorsement with 123 votes, and Jackson got 86. The rest were Cranston 6, Hollings 3, McGovern 2 and Glenn 1. The latter vote was roundly booed when announced because of Glenn's well known refusal to support gay rights, even a little bit. I don't know why we bothered to go at all, let along spend precious literature on this effort as I doubt we gained any votes we wouldn't otherwise have had. My sarcastic thought on all this (not comment, I kept my mouth shut), was that we had achieved the goal we set for ourselves in Iowa and New Hampshire of winning the second tier. But another victory like this will end the campaign.
I suppose the most interesting thing politically was that gays failed to support the one candidate who has stood up for them. Instead of acting like a narrowly focused special interest group, as the political pundents would lead us to expect, they made judgments based on a preference for local political alliances, or expectations of national victory. i.e. they opted for what should be a less desirable candidate in exchange for the benefits of a perceived coalition victory. NOW did the same thing. Two key, strong special interest groups choose compromise. The commentators who have lamented the death of political parties as mediators between competing, conflicting interests and policy makers who form winning coalitions have failed to notice that the special interest groups are achieving the same results without the mediators.

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