Huge Campaign Interest Prompts Candidates to Plan for 2002
For many of the Natural Law Party's hundreds of candidates in 2000, November 7 marked not an ending but rather the beginning of a new phase of activity to win public office.
"We've already held a statewide conference call to plan for the 2002 election," says John Eastman, whose campaign for U.S. Senate in Ohio--his third race for the NLP--won him nearly 70,000 votes. Mr. Eastman has already announced plans to seek the Ohio Governor's office in 2002. "We are organizing central committees in each of the state's 88 counties. Support for the party has never been higher."
Mr. Eastman's enthusiasm has been fueled not only by the votes he received but also by the receptivity of the media to his campaign. "Clearly, I received a lot more media exposure this time," he says. "They were impressed with the NLP's position of removing the conflict and fear from politics."
Mr. Eastman also credits much of his success to a television ad his campaign ran during the last week of the election. NLP Media Director Bob Roth says, "Such ads stir a lot of interest, which supports what all of us in the NLP have been saying all along--if we can get our message out there, the voters will respond."
In Florida, a feature story in The St. Petersburg Times about U.S. Congressional candidate Josette Green commented that "a lot of voters might like her politics if they know more about them." Ms. Green ran a very dynamic campaign against one of Washington's most powerful incumbents--Bill Young, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee--and succeeded in winning 14% of the vote.
Dale Friedgen, another veteran of three NLP campaigns, took on a daunting task in 2000: he ran for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts against perennial incumbent Ted Kennedy. "Even though it was a foregone conclusion that Mr. Kennedy would retain his seat, the media were very respectful of my campaign. It was a big change from my previous campaigns, when I was constantly asked why I wasn't running as a Democrat or Republican," says Mr. Friedgen. "But our platform is so comprehensive and complete that it gives third parties more credence in the eyes of the media."
Like many other candidates, Mr. Friedgen is already planning for the next election following his encouraging campaign in Massachusetts. "I ran for Congress twice before, but interest among my supporters would begin to fizzle once the election was over," he says. "But now, that excitement is continuing."
Peggy Palms, a second- time NLP candidate, ran for Attorney General in North Carolina and received more than 66,000 votes. She too is getting ready for the next campaign. "We are in contact with other alternative parties in North Carolina who are eager to continue the coalition efforts begun by the NLP this year," says Ms. Palms. She notes that media attention made a big difference in this election. "They sought us out and very much liked what we had to say. The result was voter support that exceeded my wildest expectations."
Doug Friedline, national campaign manager for Hagelin/Goldhaber 2000, says, "All this early planning is absolutely necessary if we are to build the Party. I am especially encouraged by efforts such as Mr. Eastman's to organize at the grassroots county level in Ohio. This will lead to more lawn signs, more literature drops, more phone banks--which all translate into more name recognition. That in turn leads to more media coverage, more financial support, and ultimately more votes."
Mr. Friedline urges potential NLP candidates not to wait for the next state or federal elections to get started. "Run in nonpartisan elections such as those for city council or school board elections. You may not win, but voters will get used to hearing and seeing your name."
Mr. Friedline also points out that a strong national organization promoting the Party's platform is key to attracting more interest. That certainly was the case in Utah, where Elliot Hulet received the backing of more than 4% of the electorate in his bid for State Treasurer. He says the national campaign won him the bulk of his support. "The John Hagelin/Neale Donald Walsch tour sparked a huge amount of interest in the state," says Mr. Hulet. "So did a visit by Steve Druker late in the campaign, whose presentation on the dangers of genetically engineered foods resonated deeply with the people of Utah."
NLP cochairs Kingsley and Leslie Brooks say one of their priorities is to train people at the state level to organize state committees and recruit potential candidates. "The public response to this campaign has presented us with a fantastic opportunity to build our Party into the national force it should and will be," says Mr. Brooks. "We must not allow this great momentum to subside. We must keep moving forward."
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