OP/ED: The six-hundred-dollar, people-powered campaign


By Brian P. Halversen, Independent Candidate for Oregon State House of Representatives District 32

What can you do with $600?
For a working-class person like myself, that amount sounds like a lot of money. But when it comes to a State House election, $600 is dwarfed when compared to the amount it normally takes to win an election.

I say normally because on Tuesday, May 15, six-hundred dollars was enough to help me safely secure the Independent Party nomination for House District 32. I raised $300 from voters and the remainder was raised through my friends and family, along with a little of my own money. As of May 17, I had 71% of the vote with 29% untallied write-ins.

My campaign couldn’t afford many mailers. We ran out of color printed postcards quickly and couldn’t afford more, so I had to improvise. Instead of raising more money to print more postcards, I used what resources I had. I went to the Tillamook County Library and printed black-and-white copies of my campaign platform for ten cents a copy. Over five days, with the help of my parents Don and Kelly, I stuffed envelopes with my platform and hand-wrote notes asking people for their votes. I figured what my campaign lacked in style, we’d make up for in charm.

I also canvassed the district, which stretches all the way up to Astoria-Warrenton and east to Banks. While knocking on doors, I met a diverse group of people with many different experiences and perspectives. But one opinion was consistent with voters no matter their differences: there’s too much money in politics.

Oregon is one of just seven states with no limits on the amount that can be donated to a state political campaign. Corporations who give copious amounts to a candidate aren’t doing so to be philanthropic. They do so with the expectation the candidate will work on their behalf once elected.

Luckily, something can be done. The national group Move to Amend has a proposed ‘We the People’ amendment that would overturn the Citizens United v. FEC U.S. Supreme Court ruling that codified the legal principle of ‘corporate personhood’ and declared money to be free speech. To find out more visit their website: movetoamend.org

On the state level, there is a grassroots movement through the initiative petition process to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2020 to address campaign finance reform. The proposed initiative would limit campaign donations and expenditures in statewide political campaigns. For more information visit: honestelectionsoregon.weebly.com
I’d like to thank all my supporters and the people who put small-dollar donations into my campaign. We were successful despite the thousands of dollars spent against us. We prevailed because we had the winning message and grassroots people power. Onward to the General Election …