Really, Norman!

The primary election is just a few weeks away and over a million advertising and marketing dollars will be spent during this brief time in an attempt to educate, confuse, and frighten voters. TV and radio ads, Robo-calls, mailers, lawn signs, road signs, bumper stickers, emails, website spots, and anything else the marketing folks can dream up.

(I have been approached by folks offering to sell me email lists of every voter in this District for $25,000 and to make Robo-calls starting at $1.99 each.)

As you know, one of my concerns is where did these advertising dollars come from? And what did the candidate have to promise to get that money?

In the past five months, there have been at least nine congressional candidate debates and forums extending from Marin City to Eureka. Nearly all of the candidates have attended each debate and we have gotten to know each other pretty well. All of us have put a lot of time and energy into this. We have all witnessed the beauty of California from Highway 101 and met concerned voters from six counties. We have commiserated about the endless confusing forms we’ve had to fill out for the Federal Election Commission, the House of Representatives’ Ethics Committee, and the IRS.

The process has, for the most part, been positive. Oh, Norman Solomon would chide Stacy Lawson for failing to vote in some of the elections, and I would remind him that, in fact, nearly half the electorate fails to vote because so many folks distrust our elected leaders and find the elections irrelevant. And I’d also reiterate that our focus needs to be on growing up and finding common sense solutions to our big problems, and that getting the corrupting influence of money out of politics would be a good place to start.

And then last week, a large and expensive hit piece arrived in my mailbox that one candidate sent out to slime another. You probably got one, too. It is an attack on Stacy Lawson, sent by Norman Solomon.

Really, Norman! Your mailer epitomizes the reason half the population does not vote. We want to respect our leaders. We want to trust them. But right now, 90% of us do not trust politicians, and your mailer is an example of why we don’t trust politicans. Sliming someone else makes us all feel yucky.

Prior to getting this hit piece, I was telling my friends that I respected and liked all of the other 11 candidates in this race. Norman Solomon is no longer on that list. The next time I see him, I will tell him something like this:

Dude, you blew it. That piece I got in the mail was bad politics. Not only bad politics, but disrespectful and slimy. You placed a picture of a sad-looking old woman under Stacy Lawson’s name, implying that this was actually a picture of Stacy. You demean Stacy for being a successful businesswoman. You attack her because she has not bought a house in a falling housing market.


Listen, we all have our warts. I sure have mine and I generally get a sinking feeling when I know I have been wrong. And then I need to go clean it up and make amends for my transgression. Norman, I hope you will do the same. I hope you will send out a big, full color apology to Stacy, and to the voters and your followers. Please do this — or you will feel yucky carrying this around with you, and the electorate will lose yet more respect for politicians

You demeaned this election, the candidates and the voters with your mailer. I don’t want to be a part of the same universe as you and this approach.

I’m not specifically defending Stacy Lawson, but doesn’t she represent what is great about America? She came from humble beginnings, went to college, got an MBA from Harvard, became a successful businesswoman and entrepreneur, worked to create a bunch of jobs, earned some money in the process, then moved into academia and is currently a U.C. Berkeley professor helping students become entrepreneurs. And her staff is sweet and includes some young folks. Stacy, my wife, and I have had some good laughs together.

And, in the mean time dear voter, please vote. Absentee ballots have been sent out and the primary is June 5th. Please check out the positions of all the candidates and pick the person you would like to be the next Representative from California’s Second District.