The fist week back in Wyoming has been productive. I came in to Cheyenne with Bryce and Reed on a 20,000 pound old Crown bus and it felt like we were crashing a party. The party was for Ryan Greene, the opponent of Charlie Hardy in the Democratic primary. Many of the bigger names in the state party were subtly or completely backing Greene.
Greene’s family owns a business that works in the energy industry, he had money and this 33 year old talks like a Republican. He had the audacity to stay that “fracking is part of the culture” in Wyoming. As Bryce put it, “he supports fracking like his great grandma used to do it.” I don’t want to bash him, I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but… come on!
He brags how he has never been to Washington, DC, and doesn’t know a single person in Washington, DC. It’s the sort of thing folks say out here, they can be proudly myopic and ignorant. I don’t think he could find Syria on a map or Iraq or Afghanistan (surely people reading this are saying to themselves they could find at least one of these countries) or Russia (lobbed you one) for that matter!
Charlie has traveled to 30 countries, he speaks about 7 languages. He has traveled to every state and knows people in DC. Like he knows people at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) not rich lobbyists. He has lived abroad and he goes to countries not as a tourist at some gated resorts, but as a traveler, a people to people ambassador. Don’t we want someone in Congress who knows the people of the world?
Charlie Hardy is thoughtful, a great orator and he loves to meet and have conversation with people. However, Charlie is not great at running a political campaign. He is very honest for example and says what he means. This is definitely a political disadvantage. He also is unwilling to take big PAC money or seek money out with the begging vigor that most politicians have. Finally, he doesn’t have a lot of the fundamentals of how to make a campaign work and since he doesn’t have the money to hire a person who does his campaign is sorely limited.
When we rolled into town on the bus though that marked the beginning of the decline of Ryan Greene’s campaign and the enchanting growth of Charlie Hardy’s campaign. At least that is the story I am pitching in my own narrative!
The truth of course is that Charlie was doing okay! He had a team of enthusiastic Bernie Sanders supporters, neighbors and friends who would meet once a week in Cheyenne to work on his campaign. I met Gonz and AJ, these two folks were dedicated to the Bernie Sanders dream and went door to door for him. They are Latinos and that meant in Wyoming especially they dealt with racism plus they themselves or their family had immigration issues to deal with. They were motivated and they love Charlie!
He also had several strong women who were in his campaign. Janette and her daughter Roxanne are just a delightful energetic duo. Then there is Margot and Liz who have carried a lot of the organizing work. Then there is Ed who is just on top of local issues and a real character. Finally Charlie has several other young guys and gals who show up and help.
Last time I came in 2014 I arrived about two weeks later in July, then it took two weeks of scrambling around to gather the pieces of his campaign that had lost much of it’s steam and start getting it back on course. Of course, I knew no one in the state, which didn’t help either. We got a campaign off the ground eventually, but it relied on spectacle and passion rather than hard core organizing.
This time, we are hitting the ground running. We got a great website launched within two days. We dusted off the old social media platform, which sadly his volunteers weren’t using until we got there, and that meant we had close to 1800 likes on FB. When we started in 2014 we had a couple hundred. We looked at the old campaign plan from 2014 and went through a new vision, goal, strategy and tactics workshop with the volunteers. We also did a reverse engineering of the campaign from victory to today to see what we needed to accomplish. Bryce and I then went on to create a detailed list of what we needed to get done and start putting all that in a calendar and task lists.
I’ve also written several things for the website, pushed big in social media including ad buys. Also because I had been here in 2014 I was capable of digging into my own lists to grab new volunteers across the state and knew what areas of the state we needed to concentrate in.
I also stepped on some toes and Charlie has frustrated me and we had to have some long conversations. We are frustrating to each other in how we operate even though we agree with each other on 95% of issues. The fact is, at the core, me and Charlie are strong friends and with a little conversation we always smooth things over.
I tell Charlie, you be yourself but let me be your samurai. That’s the role I have found I prefer most. He doesn’t particularly like that, but I don’t think he has studied the Art of War. Plus if he wins the primary and ends up facing Liz Chen ey in the general election we’re going to have to be absolutely focused and serious.
To be real, winning the primary is not at all guaranteed. Ryan Greene just boasted on FB that he delivered his thousandth yard sign last week. We have zero. He has some slick videos he paid to get produced which got over 15,000 views so far. He speaks well and he is focused like a salesman, he works on systematically moving more and more people to his side. He is also on top of doing mailers. He hired a company to send out mailers to people the day their absentee ballots show which has already started. He also has a campaign manager named Max who some people have called a Carl Rove like strategist. He is also organizing comments against Charlie on articles and on FB. They are blatantly from his campaign but said by individuals. We are just not that sophisticated.
Despite those disadvantages, Charlie won the Wyoming Tribune Eagle endorsement on Sunday! That is the second largest newspaper in the state and is based in Cheyenne where Charlie has a clear advantage. Charlie already has statewide name recognition from the last campaign and most of the press from that was very positive. This primary will have a larger turnout and we are hoping since Bernie Sanders won the caucus that we can be the clear candidate of choice in that crowd. I had to scramble the past 5 days to really push our connection statewide to Bernie amongst his supporters and I wish I could have done that more months ago instead of right before he steps out. But oh well!
Wyoming has 38,000 registered Democrats. No I am not joking, that is the truth. If I had come out earlier, I think we would have raised enough money to mail something to all of them. Unfortunately, monetarily, the campaign only has a few thousand dollars. But considering that low number, we think if we push for activating volunteers we can get a ground team going that in the last couple weeks can really reach door to door a large number of those people directly. It might be wishful thinking, but that combined with social media advertising, perhaps some radio spots and earned media we could win.
If we win the primary, and we face Liz Cheney, it will be quite a show. I hope that with that ground game in place already we can push hard for people’s vote. I think money will start flowing in as well especially since we proved ourselves in the primary. The odds are very much against us still but the chance for expanding the campaign, going big, might be there.
Anyways, things are exciting here and we are on a good start. I hope everyone is doing well. And thanks for reading!