Wow, it's been a while since I last put up a post - nearly an entire month. Granted, I have been pretty busy the last three weeks helping to clean and organize my mom's classroom and move her library of books back home for the summer. I've also been doing the job search thing and the baseball thing. In a nutshell there, I'm still jobless and my Diamondbacks have the third worst record in all of baseball, so.... At least Mom's books are back home and reorganized.
Anyway, for the past few weeks I've also been in touch with a select number of campaigns here in the east valley working on a project to keep me busy and "network" with some of the campaign staffs. It started out as me thinking about how I could help out even though I can't do a lot of events (no car, no dinero).
I came up with the idea to call/email Rich Crandall, running for State Senate in LD-19 and offer to keep his signs up and in good condition in my area if he'd provide me with zip ties or wire to fix them. He liked the idea, and so I offered it to others, one of whom was Jeff Smith, running against Congressman Jeff Flake in congressional district 6. (I've also offered my services to others running whose signs I've seen in dilapidation or who simply have a lot of signs I can keep an eye on. Those campaigns which don't have signs up didn't get asked.)
Well, from there, I was apparently put on a list of potential volunteers and on Friday got an email about an event Mr. Smith's was having with his campaign volunteers at a local restaurant. I decided I would go and meet the guy, talk with his supporters, and see why he was running. As my friends all know, I do very much like Jeff Flake and think he's a genuinely good person, but he also doesn't have a campaign with very many events or volunteer activities I could help out on in Mesa. I haven't even seen any campaign signs posted for him yet. So I figured that if I would have a chance to assist on another local campaign, I might as well see if the candidate was someone I could get behind. When I arrived, I felt a little bad, because the "event" was a surprise birthday party that he was having with his volunteers. I didn't want to hijack the night for anyone, but since I was already there, I figured it was okay.
I got to the restaurant at 6:30pm. The party was out on the patio, and other than the wind blowing rather strongly, it was a beautiful night - about 84 degrees, if not cooler. I was about the fifth person there, including an older couple, a student and Tea Party volunteer, the campaign's coordinator (I think), and a PC from Gilbert. I introduced myself and mentioned that I didn't know much about Jeff Smith and asked why they were all his supporters. Many of their answers had to do with why they DIDN'T support Jeff Flake (and these are their words, not mine) - his not being in Washington for the "Cap and Trade" vote, his support of a McCain amnesty plan, his carbon tax proposal, and generally what they deemed his lack of interest in the citizens of CD-6. When I pressed further, for reasons why they supported Smith (as opposed to why they didn't support Flake), I got the generic answers: he is really energetic and wants to change things for the better, he wants to bring the country back to it's constitutional roots, and he is endorsed by people like Sheriff Arpaio.
Well, suffice it to say that eventually Jeff Smith realized that I was just the sign guy, and not really a supporter or a volunteer. And instead of dubbing me the party crasher, he actually sat down to talk with me one-on-one and let me ask him some questions, which I thought was really classy. And you know what I find? I like the guy. He may be a more extreme Republican than me on some issues, but I like his desire to bring the country back a bit to adhere to the Constitution, and I like his drive and energy. He has a very comfortable speaking style, and letting me talk to him one-on-one like he did showed me that he seems to care a lot about what people like me think. There were about 30 other people at this party, and he could very easily have ignored me completely and shook hands and been off to bed for the next day's campaign activities - and with all the people clamoring for any candidate's attention at any one time, that would be far too easy to do - but Mr. Smith actually stayed after almost everyone else had left just to talk for a couple of minutes with me.
I won't bore anyone with the details of my little bit of banter with him, but I got a real positive sense of his personality from the conversation. I'd definitely encourage anyone to at least look at him as a potential candidate when making choices about who to support in the GOP primary election on August 24th. His website is http://www.votejeffsmith2010.com/.