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Political Primer: Average Joe's Notes From the Campaign Trail

My campaign for Congress was a lesson in life, a lesson in politics and a lesson in money. It was above all else a reaffirmation of the greatness of this country and of our people.

Editor's Note: This is Part 2 of John Webb's series about his run for Congress. Part 1 is "An Average Joe Runs For Congress."

This is not the story I wanted to tell.  It is hard to write about my campaign.  I lost and lost big in the primary.  John Campbell got 50% of the vote, Sukhee Kang got 31% of the vote and I got 16%.  My 16% was more than 17,000 votes.  Here are a few comments about the campaign.

Meeting the Public: I was out five to six times a week meeting with different groups.  The Republican Women of Orange County and the Tea Party groups were very nice.  If you want to get into understanding politics in Orange County I would find one of their meetings and attend.  You will be warmly welcomed by each group.  These are people who care about the political process and are willing to work for their beliefs.  The members of these groups do not sit and complain,
or ignore the process; they step up and work to make a difference.  These are the doers who are a joy to meet.

Professional Politicians: This is a club of people who have worked together for years and they are not receptive to going against their own.  They are however, friendly and approachable.  You owe it to yourself to find these people.  It will change your thoughts on many aspects of politics.  Attend the Central Committee meetings of your party; they are the grassroots of politics.  I had thought these
people were above average, they are not.  Politicians are just average people.

The Press and Radio: I never figured this out. If you have money you can buy your way onto most shows and into the press. Without money there is a way, but I can’t explain it.

Money: Money first and money last.  You are familiar with the story of the tree falling in the forest.  The question, if nobody is around to hear it, does a tree make a sound when it falls? I was often reminded of this. After hundreds of meetings where people would tell me how much they appreciated the run, expressed concern about how little their Congressman was available, and applauded my ideas, I had reached only a few thousand people.  The incumbents were able to send one mailing (cost over $100,000) and reach every mailing address in the District.  They could make general comments, paint themselves in a positive image, avoid specifics and ask for votes. Without money and the ability to question their mailers, I was a tree falling in the forest. Nobody could hear me.

People who helped: I’m not going to mention names for fear of forgetting someone.  I was amazed how people were willing to help. I had several very small females on sign duty for hours at a time, holding a six-foot long sign with my name on it.  I don’t know how they did it.  But they did and then returned again and again to help.  I had a guy and his family spending their weekends, planting signs on streets in South Orange County because he believed in the message. An attorney from Tustin offered to help with the campaign, and then come to Washington with me.  Why? I had expressed concern I might vote for something not authorized in the Constitution.  He offered to make sure it didn’t happen.  He was willing to give up his business for two years to make sure I had help.  The most amazing thing was one evening I was approached by an elderly man, who was obviously having a hard time making ends meet.  He stuck something in my jacket pocket, while I was talking to someone else.  I turned to him and said “thank you.”  He apologized for interrupting me and turned to walk away.  I stopped him and thanked him again. He said, “I don’t have much money, but I believe in what you are saying.”  He then walked away.  After the meeting I reached into my pocket and pulled out a single, worn dollar bill.  I felt like a fool, sitting in a dark car after that meeting, crying because someone cared that much.  Politics will make you humble.  To truly represent the people, you must meet the people.  I will forever have a warm feeling for the people I met at these meetings.  Not everyone was receptive, but they were all serious about this country.

Fundraising: I was a failure at fundraising. It is critical for a campaign, unless you have millions of your own money. Once elected, groups will raise money for you, and you have the name recognition. I believe money was the reason for my loss. I found that fundraising is the same whether it is for charity or politics.   People want change, but don’t understand it cannot happen until people band together in spirit, in thought and in donating to their cause.  During the campaign I wrote a check for a charity and made the wistful comment, “I wish I was a charity." The charity volunteer said it didn’t make much difference: There are so many calls on people to give, people tune it all out after a while. Fundraising was my biggest failure.

Citizens: I met so many amazing people during the campaign.  Some I hope to keep in contact with in the future. There was an ex-Communist PhD who found God and became a Conservative.  His story is amazing, including attending school with Barack Obama. There were many people who would approach me after a meeting to offer advice. Some of it was so insightful, and it was offered without strings. One of the best things about this country is the people. Of course I knew this, but the experience of being a candidate renewed my admiration for the American People.  Rich, poor, working class, retired and families all shared the same basic thoughts. People want to provide for their families, take part in their communities and worship their God. All they ask is for their candidates to share the same goals.

My campaign for Congress was a lesson in life, a lesson in politics and a lesson in money. 

It was above all else a reaffirmation of the greatness of this country and of our people.

I strongly recommend each of you to run for an office at some point in your life.  If you start when you are younger, you can make up for a lack of money, by working yourself up the political ladder. From the school boards, to the water districts to city government, each is an experience in government. 

More diversity, a larger the number of candidates and more thought processes will give us better government.   

I am against term limits, but suggest we vote people out after they have been in office for a while, and make room for a different thought process. 

We grow stronger when constantly reviewing our priorities.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

John Webb November 28, 2012 at 11:35 PM
Shirpathi, sometimes I'm a little slow to catch you when you are stringing me along. Nobody dumped Romney, he lost. Conservatives now must decide what is next. One big question is the Republican Party. Is there a home for Conservatives within that Party? Is it a home we want? So far as Romeny goes, he will probably go down as the most qualifed man ever to run for President and not get elected.....or will he somewhere in the future. What we learned from Richard Nixon is that political careers take strange turns. Now stop pulling my leg......
John Webb November 28, 2012 at 11:40 PM
Mike, you are probably right. Still, the iconoclast part of me, would like to see more people stepping up, and offering their ideas. Even if you lose, it is possible your ideas may add to the conversation about the Countries future. In California anybody can enter the party primary, but only the top two vote move on to the primary election.
Shripathi Kamath November 28, 2012 at 11:48 PM
"Shirpathi, sometimes I'm a little slow to catch you when you are stringing me along. Nobody dumped Romney, he lost. Conservatives now must decide what is next. One big question is the Republican Party." "What we learned from Richard Nixon is that political careers take strange turns." Indeed, like Romney, Nixon lost too. Then he even lost the California governorship. As did Reagan, who lost till he beat Carter. Two of the conservatives star Presidents went through losses. Are you saying that the conservatives now are different? That if you lose one election, your principles are no good and to be discarded like a used contraceptive? But wait a minute, Ryan lost too, remember? So how come he is still on your list? "So far as Romeny goes, he will probably go down as the most qualifed man ever to run for President and not get elected.....or will he somewhere in the future." Which makes you non-renewal of your faith in him even more puzzling. That you would not pick the "most qualifed man ever" over an inexperienced Rubio or Ryan.
Mike F November 29, 2012 at 12:40 AM
John, There is no longer a Primary Election in California; there are now two General Elections with someone achieving 50% having to run twice. Expect this to change in the future when the Democrats have continuing full control of the state. A Contitutional Primary has only Party Elections without any General Election voting including Initiatives or Referendums. The Democrats, the party of big government and private sector suppression, is well on the way to dismantling California and has accomplices in the Republican Party who can be "persuaded" to support the Democratic Party.
Andromeda November 29, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Don't encourage him, Mr. Webb. However you answer his questions you'll lose. You have already identified yourself as his foe, not his friend. You can't win, sir. Let it go.
BB November 29, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Mr. Webb, did you vote for Beall/Gamble or Hrabik? McGirr, McCook, or Acosta?
tiny November 29, 2012 at 02:34 AM
Shall we worship at the behest of politial parties? This fake geometry is a big problem. For instance Nixon ended the Bretton Woods fixed international exchange rate system which made money speculation king over production, (he also initiated the money changer HMO system). Then Clinton ended the FDR Glass-Steagall system that seperated the good commercial banks from the speculatative ones, and really accelerated doom. So today 20% of the people own 80% of the wealth, manufaturing is down to 11% of GDP and all the other horror stories. But the political parties are regurgitating the same old rhetoric that got us to where we are now. So the idea of stepping up, while valid, is a very sacred and deep commitment than just mere words or swimming downstream deeds.
Andromeda November 29, 2012 at 02:53 AM
But I do have a question too, Mr. Webb. Did you run against John Campbell? Naturally you must know that as an incumbent that Campbell has never debated an opponent in an public forum during election season, right??? He never debated Steve Young who ran against him several times. He never debated Beth Krom. And he never debated Suhee Kang. heh. Always unavailable. Seem to me that avoiding public political debates for high offices during election season is about as unamerican as an incumbent could get. High school kids running for homeroom president are forced to debate. Yet some of those who make our laws shun them. Political candidates should be forced to debate their opponents the critical issues that face our State and Nation. Don't you think? Don't they owe that to the citizens and taxpayers? This is just another reason why I think our society is doomed. When politicians can refuse to engage in debates with their competition and get away with it by being reelected anyway - we are doomed as a society.
owen callahan November 29, 2012 at 02:59 AM
A great question. After watching Cox. all but one of the candidates were fine, but if you voted for McCook you will prove yourself to be an absolute moron.
Joker Joe November 29, 2012 at 03:41 PM
The past few years have really put the squeeze on cash-strapped states to find new sources of revenue. This environment has generated a level of tax aggression from certain states, which in turn has resulted in a net loss of revenue instead of the intended gain. Residents have begun voting with their feet, deciding to move out of the state instead of thinning their pocket through unwanted taxation. So which states are chasing away their residents? And how does it impact you if you live in one of them? We track migratory patterns through our residency product data, and while some of the states are no-brainers, others may surprise you. Following are our top five ‘shrinking’ states in ascending order: Copy & Paste from Financial Times.... California: The Golden State is nearly a tie for the number-two spot, and we are constantly surprised it isn’t at the top of the list given the fiscal issues present there. Municipality balance sheets are in shambles, the state already has high tax rates, and many residents are staying close but merely hopping the border into more tax advantageous states like Nevada. Yes, the weather can be great, the people creative, and they still have one of the most productive economies around, but we haven’t seen a decrease in the flow of residents out of the state which is always a cause for concern.
Mike F November 29, 2012 at 05:17 PM
John, Back in the 60's the hippies put on Occupy Education. Part of that nonsense was street theatre. Is that what your blog is - street theatre? Or is it Patch putting on this playtime and you are the guy in the barrel - the despised Republican either way!
Andromeda November 29, 2012 at 05:40 PM
At least the hippies accomplished something and got us out of Vietnam. If not for the hippies we'd probably still be fighting there losing 15,000 young american boys every year while all the congress member's sons got college deferrments.
Joker Joe November 29, 2012 at 05:53 PM
The hippies started too late for this Army vet.... lol lol What is the hold up on Afghanistan? Why a 2014 withdrawal? Does this country have extra money to waste? Extra lives to eliminate? The Taliban are going no where!! They live there.
Andromeda November 29, 2012 at 06:59 PM
William, by 2014 they'll wage a new war over there in a another country (probably Iran) and just transfer the Afghanistan troops to Iran just like they transferred the Iraq troops to Afghanistan. These people aren't stupid. For them it's like a chess board. Each move is done with incredible forethought. And we're the pawns who get sold off. The defense industry needs their perpetual dose of skittles at our expense. :^)
John Webb November 29, 2012 at 08:31 PM
I had an appointment this morning and came back to find several interesting topics which seem to do well without my input. Some of you put a lot of thought and show a lot of experience in your posts. The Patch opens their blogs to anyone who would like one. If you have trouble getting it to work, a quick note to Martin will get you a resource who is interested in every point of view. No one is the Republican in the barrel. I did support McCook, a man who I find to be interested in the community. He is a retired business executive who has another thought process. I've said before that I favor a change in every office, every few years. Not knowing the background of the person who used the word moron, I'm not sure of their qualifications. Maybe they could enlighten us as to why he stands to judge a man. This country is in trouble. I have ideas which I will continue to express. My friend Shirpathi is right, every now and then I lash out, but my motives are good. I strongly believe the middle class gets hurt under President Obama. I wasn't born middle class, I worked my way up into the middle class. I plan to fight to make sure we, the working people, stand a chance in this society.
Andromeda November 29, 2012 at 09:57 PM
Did you hear the latest, Mr. Webb? Now Congress is considering the elimination of the tax benefits of the Roth IRA's retroactively to help avoid the "fiscal cliff". heh. They say the courts will support such a proposal. Yet from the other sides of their mouths they tell us that big government pension benefits are sancrosanct promises make on behalf of the taxpayers that cannot be broken and are legally binding. I guess my question to you is "How long will the American people tolerate this two-class system - one side to whom the rules never apply and the other side to whom the rules always apply?" One nation under God my ***.
John Webb November 29, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Andromeda, I don't know the answer to your question. It has been clear to me for some time, many politicans do not particulary care about what happens to the working class people in this country. This is why I ran against my own party candidate. The timing is not known, but one thing is for sure. Americans only take so much and then they change it. I remember years ago I thought Jimmy Carter was doing a terrible job..........the American people agreed and removed him. This is a tough time for those of us who believe in a color blind, melting pot, equal opportunity society where those who work hard move ahead. It is my faith in the American people and our system that tells me we will work through this.
Andromeda November 29, 2012 at 10:40 PM
You're much more of an idealist than I am, Mr. Webb. But then as a politician I guess you have to be. Personally, I would be unelectable because I usually tell people what they don't want to hear and I don't promise them free cheese, therefore I would probably not get very many votes. The ones who promise the most free cheese usually win. Perhaps that's why you didn't make it last time around. But I wish you much luck in the future. Oh, btw, you ran against Campbell, right? How about telling him to act like a honorable politician and debate his opponents in a public forum in the future so that the voters in his district can listen to both sides of the spectrum and make intelligent decisions in the voting booth? That's the way our democracy and political system was designed to work. When I see veteran politicians like Feinstein and Campbell sidestepping public debates during election season it really disgusts me.
Joker Joe November 30, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Was this mentioned before the election?? White House opening bid asks for $1.6T in tax hikes. President Obama has called for a $1.6T tax increase, a $50B economic-stimulus program, and the power to raise the federal debt limit without congressional approval as part of a deal to avert the fiscal cliff. It's a "step backward," says Mitch McConnell. Or its the White House's opening gambit. Oh well, just 4 more years!!!
Andromeda November 30, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Yes, WIlliam. I know about it. Massive tax increases with virtually zero spending cuts. You write like you're a well-educated man so please don't take offense if I tell you something that you don't already know. The Republicans will cave as they always do, William. They will give Obama pretty much what he wants. Why? Because we live under a one-party political system. That's why. You would already know that if you watched the previous debate ceiling debate. The Republicans put up a little resistance up front and then caved. Every single "balance the budget" Republican congressman in Orange County voted to raise the debt ceiling last year. Remember? And the same will happen with the "fiscal cliff". All the OC conservatives will bend over and let Obama have his way with them. So it's all a comedy show to keep the Ponzi scheme afloat and to eventually destroy the American way of life. I could write a book about it. But that is a basic summary for you.
Andromeda November 30, 2012 at 07:02 PM
" It is my faith in the American people and our system that tells me we will work through this" You're sounding a lot like Bagdad Bob, Mr. Webb. :^)
Joker Joe November 30, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Andromeda I appreciate talking with you but I already posted 10 days ago that the Republicans would fold on a business site I frequent. As I help people out with their finances I am up to the minute on business matters. The remainder of that post also said the administration would kick the can down the road. Business as usual as GM builds two, 2 BILLION dollar plants in China.
Joker Joe November 30, 2012 at 07:24 PM
Countries doing great. Detroit staring at bankruptcy. With 2-3 weeks to receive $30M of state aid from Michigan in order not to run out of cash, Detroit is again teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. The aid is contingent on the city implementing the provisions of a deal in April, when Michigan agreed to provide $137M, but those measures haven't been enacted. Financial mismanagement, political corruption, and a massive population hemorrhage are among the causes of Detroit's woe.
Joker Joe November 30, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Californian port strike threatens holiday season cargo. A strike at Californian ports is threatening to delay the delivery of some holiday season cargo after longshoremen and clerical workers began action on Tuesday due to an impasse in contract talks. As of yesterday, seven of eight terminals at the Port of Los Angeles were closed, as were three of six in Long Beach. Ships have started to divert to other ports, including Mexico.
John Webb November 30, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Andromeda, you may have read my notes on how easy it is to quit. Right now it looks bad. Quitting is not an option. To go along, to get along is easy..........standing up for what you believe, when everybody is in a panic is hard. There are no guarantee's, but when things look the worst is when opportunity knocks. I'll stick with my belief in the American people and our system.
Andromeda November 30, 2012 at 07:34 PM
If Michigan can't bail out Detroit then Obama will. We don't want to revisit 1967, do we? The loudest squeaky wheel always get the grease in America, even if the wheel is worn out and needs replacement. Detroit has been on life-support of decades. But it's the patient that will never die. Taxpayers will just continuing throwing fiat money at a failed city to maintain the peace.
Andromeda November 30, 2012 at 07:38 PM
The unions (both public and private) are committing a form of suicide and are too stupid and greedy to realize it. I say let them strike. Let them kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. Then let them lie in their own feces. That's the only way any of this ends. There is no political will to fight them. The politicians are all in their back pockets. In the end, let them all eat cake.
Andromeda November 30, 2012 at 07:58 PM
I respect that you're engaged in the process and have opened yourself up to criticism with your Patch columns, Mr. Webb. I truly do. But many people (quite knowledgable, educated and intelligent people) have come to the conclusion after examining all the evidence that we are on a sinking ship taking on thousands of gallons of seawater that shows no signs of recovery. The only question now is when does it fully submerge? If you study world history we are on the exact same path as former empires that succumbed to the forces that prosperous societies are vulnerable to. Everything is born and everything eventually dies. Nations do not escape the process. It's the cycle of life. It is a beautiful process actually - but one that terrifies most of us humans. I understand where you're coming from, Mr. Webb. And I respect your point of view. But like I said before - you are the idealist and I am the realist. Can America maintain the status quo for a numbers of years? Sure. But can it survive this nonsense that we see happening around us. The answer to that question is an unequivocal 'no'. I don't know if we will see political, social and economic upheaval in our lifetimes. But I fear greatly for our younger generations.
John Webb November 30, 2012 at 10:13 PM
Andromeda, my column next week wraps up the experience of running for Congress. In two weeks I will introduce a thought process that will be somewhat wide ranging dealing with the exceptionalism of these United States. At that time, we can continue this conversation. My idealism is capped by 67 years of watching the world go around and being a student of the history of modern man. Todays events are just part of a glorious history yet to be written. This conversation will get better as we go along. I appreciate your kind words.
Andromeda November 30, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Why, thank you, Mr. Webb. And I will look forward to your article. But please don't be disappointed if you fail to convince me that our society is salvagable. I think we have gone beyond the point of no return. And I based that opinion on a great deal of intense study of other empires, their demise, and our direction of travel. I would like to be an idealist like you but I'm not wired that way any more (based on the facts as I see them) and I do not want to violate my own personal standards by believing something that I don't think is true. I was an idealist at one point in my life but no longer. I read somewhere that idealists live longer than realists. And that claim makes perfect sense. I don't know if it's true. But I hope you live a long and prosperous life. Maybe you will live to 100 and witness the great collapse. Who knows? You can tell me all about it on the other side :^)

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