image0018Libertarian Crusader Diaryimage0039

1996 Campaign Era

Published by Gary L. Fincher

Volume I, Edition IV – April 1996

Lewiston, Maine

 

 

 

 

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Setting the official World Record for number of people kissing in one place, Orono, Maine, Feb. 13, 1996

 

 

 

 

Hello, Again

 

It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? The last time you read these pages, Kay and I were in Tucson, Arizona, working on a Libertarian voter registration drive.  It was August 1995 and we were staying in an apartment with a couple of other Libertarian activists who were also working on the drive.  Much has happened since then and I’m sorry to report that I haven’t been able to keep current with LCD…until now. Before I launch into the meat of this issue (which, by the way, will now become a monthly publication, allow me to recap the past 7+ months while LCD was out of commission:

 

The remainder of Kay’s and my involvement in that registration drive in Arizona was tortuous and full of strife. While I’m happy to report that life is, at present, much, much more fulfilling and harmonious, that wasn’t the case late last summer.

 

For one thing, last summer was a brutal one for us. Though we got a brief respite from the grueling heat for a week in San Francisco, almost all of the summer was hot, hot, hot.  The previously mentioned petition drive in Baltimore was, of course, conducted during the worst heat wave on record, and Arizona is constantly oppressive with its relentless heat.  Tucson in August was expectedly hot and Kay and I had a hard time tolerating it. No other way to put it.

 

The other situation that we had to deal with was Al Anders, who basically terrorized both Kay and me the whole time we were there. The extreme pot- smoking culture of him and his friends really encroached into our own tame lifestyle, resulting in conflict.  Anders was basically rigid and uncompromising and refused to do any accommodating or otherwise be diplomatic in any way. Without going into a lengthy indictment, let me just say that he made life miserable on Kay and me – enough so that we had to get out of there.

 

Finally, as I mentioned in an earlier issue of LCD, Kay and I walked into an all-out faction war in the Arizona LP and it was nasty.  Since our work was done mainly with the sanction of only one of the factions (the renegade Pima County  group), we drew the ire and resentment of the other faction (the Maricopa County group). 

Kay getting LP registrations at the UA campus in		Kay works the Oktoberfest crowd in

Kay getting LP registrations at the UA campus in Tucson, Ariz

 

Kay works the crowd at Oktoberfest in Tulsa, Okla.

Kay works the crowd at Oktoberfest in Tulsa, Okla.

 

Consequently, we sought other work in order to leave Arizona, and we found it when we made a few telephone calls and discovered that term limits was going to go on the ballot – again – in my old and dear Maine.  In a way, I would be going back home.

 

In the early morning hours of a quiet September morning, Kay and I slipped out of the Tucson apartment (after having earlier put most of our stuff in a storage unit on the other side of town) never to return.  We had only our travel bags, an insulated cooler filled with beverage and our rolled-up petitioning table.  And the only method of travel we were able to use to get out of Arizona was…hitchhiking (believe it or not).

 

It was understood that the petition drive in Maine wouldn’t be ready for a few weeks, so Alan Lindsay, who was in Oklahoma City (he told us about Maine), invited us to Oklahoma to work on term limits there, the first of a proposed wave of ballot drives that would seek the first Constitutional Convention since September of 1787.

 

Kay and I escaped the hot Tucson sun (finally) in favor of the cool rain of Oklahoma City by getting a ride from a truck driver that took us from Casa Grande, Arizona, through New Mexico and Texas, to just north of the Oklahoma line.  It definitely felt good to get out of the heat for once.

 

New England on Our Mind

 

After working a couple of days in Oklahoma City, Alan took us up to Tulsa to work up until the time that Maine would be ready.  Most of our time in Tulsa was pretty uneventful, as we worked steadily on the term limits petition.  The Tulsa State Fair and Oktoberfest were sweet bonuses that provided us with lots of signatures and therefore ample bucks that we needed in order to get out of Oklahoma and back to New England.  Oklahoma’s weather was mild in the autumn, portending of things to come, that life for us was somehow mellowing out from the fierceness of the past summers heat, turmoil and, that’s right – transportationlessness.

 

One October day in Tulsa, Kay and I went to an automobile auction that a fellow petition worker had told us about, curious, but not really expecting to be successful in our hunt.  After all, we had only about $150 on our person when we went, not exactly enough to buy a car.  But the Lord was good to us that day, as we nailed down a bid (of $105!) on a 1979 Datsun that is still with us today, running as smoothly and soundly as ever. It was the needed impetus that lifted us from last summer’s hell of being without transportation and suffering the economic consequences.

 

At the end of October, Kay and I wrapped up things in Tulsa and headed out across country, making the 2,500 mile trip to Auburn, Maine.  It was Kay’s first glimpse of the Pine Tree state and my first time being back since July, 1994.  It was good to be “home” again, but, alas, it was just getting to be November and turning cold there.

Our new ’79 Datsun being readied to leave Tulsa, Okla., in Oct. 1995

Left: Our new ’79 Datsun being readied to leave Tulsa, Okla., in Oct. 1995

 

that same car, inundated with wintertime Maine snow during snowiest winter on record.

that same car, inundated with wintertime Maine snow during snowiest winter on record.

The term limits drive went o.k. for us and we were able to make a little money, especially before Christmas when Ross Perot’s Reform Party paid us well to gather registrations from people enrolling in the party. In January, however, the term limits drive was coming to an end and we had to nail down some continuing work for us.

 

Gary works with term limits petition coordinator and  Maine tate legislator John Michael in Portland in Dec 1995

Gary works with term limits petition coordinator and Maine tate legislator John Michael in Portland in Dec 1995

 

 

 

 

Gary and Kay Fincher, the team that  put Harry Brown on the 1996 Maine ballot for president

Gary and Kay Fincher, the team that put Harry Brown on the 1996 Maine ballot for president

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was the first time that we actually sought – and won – an actual exclusive contract and we were ecstatic. This was, for us, a major upset victory and we couldn’t believe it.  But much work had to be done. In getting exclusive rights to the ballot drive, we were responsible for acquiring and printing the names on the petitions, learning relevant election law and directing the volunteers in the Maine LP to take over the certification process after the signatures had been collected.

 

Dick Eaton, state party chairman, was the chosen volunteer that we worked with in that regard. Upon final completion of the drive, he would be the one to see to it that all petitions were validated by the town clerks and then forwarded to the Secretary of State in Augusta for certification.  He would also be the one to decide who would be named candidate for slate of presidential electors (Maine has four).

petitioning with Dick Eaton in Auburn

Hard at work: petitioning with Dick Eaton in Auburn

romantic Valentine’s Day in Bangor

Hard at play: romantic Valentine’s Day in Bangor

Kay and I, after negotiating a contract with Sharon Ayres, Harry Browne’s campaign director, and agreeing on a price, set out to collect the 4,000 valid signatures needed to get Harry on the ballot.  It was generally expected that 6,000 signatures (gross) would be needed to net 4,000 and the contract reflected this.  We would fax weekly reports to the Browne campaign office in Costa Mesa, California, and courtesy copies to Kris Williams at the Libertarian National Committee and Dick Eaton, the Maine LP state chair.  Our operation had  become professionalized.

 

Not only was our image professionalized (since coming to Maine, we’ve added business cards, stationery, and a toll-free number), but our actual operation had become professionalized, too. We bought a nice table and attractive chairs, made slick, professional-looking signs to add to the efficient operation of our petition collection.  No longer was petitioning a haphazard concern, showing up on parking lots with a couple of clipboards in hand; we called places and set up appointments and then would proceed to show up on location as scheduled, set up and begin to take signatures in a professional like manner.

 

The biggest problem we faced was the cold and snowy weather.  Most of them time we were lucky enough to be able to work inside, but the weather slowed us down in terms of volume.  We worked universities in Orono, Portland and Farmington, and colleges in I.ewiston and Waterville.  In addition, we worked inside supermarkets in Auburn, Lewiston, Scarborough and Waterville, and in post offices in Auburn and Waterville.  In the end, though hampered by eventual problems with access and weather, we were successful.

 

On April 3, 1996, we collected the last signature for Harry Browne’s ballot access in Maine.  Dick had been working with us to do some preliminary checking of validity through town clerks in Waterville, Scarborough, Orono, Auburn and Lewiston.  The result was a validity rate of between 88% (Waterville) to 97% (Auburn) – an overall validity rate (based on 1/3 of signatures in) of 89.4%. It was clear by the end of March that the 6.068 gross signatures expected at the outset of the drive would not be necessary.  Based on new projections, we stopped the drive at 5,110, which meant a projected valid signature total of around 4,500, well more than needed to make Harry Browne the first “third party” candidate to earn a spot on the Maine ballot.

 

LP presidential hopeful Harry Browne watches us petition

LP presidential hopeful Harry Browne watches us petition

 

 

 

 

 

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Miscellaneous News

 

On April 8, Kay and I will be taking a trip to Wisconsin and back.  We’ll be renting a car from Hertz, leaving our prized 1979 Datsun in Maine while we’re gone.  The basis for the trip is for Kay to see her family, whom she hasn’t seen in a year.  The other reason is to go to the Wisconsin LP convention on April 13, where we will see Harry Browne (again), as welt as the other contenders for the nomination, Rick Tompkins and Irwin Schiff.  It should be a nice break from work, as we plan to take a leisurely trip through New York and Ontario along the way.

 

Later this month Kay and I have plans to work on Libertarian petition drives in either/or: Massachusetts, West Virginia. Plans aren’t gelled yet.

 

Lately my 11-year-old daughter Jennifer (Jenny), who lives in Texas with her mother, has been in contact with me, calling our toll-free number and it’s been really enjoyable talking with her. I think I’ve spoken with her more these last couple of months than I have the previous 7 or 8 years combined.  I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to buy her some things recently (such as that 10-speed bike) that she’s really enjoyed.

Kay with Jenny in Brownwood, Tex.

Kay with Jenny in Brownwood, Tex.

Jenny with me in Brownwood, Tex., in May 1996

Jenny with me in Brownwood, Tex., in May 1996

But it’s been recently brought to my attention that her mother (my ex-wife Angela) has tentatively approved a summertime visit by Jennifer to us on location in Connecticut (LP ballot status drive) in June.  Jenny, Kay and I are all looking forward to that and are busy thinking up plans of where to go and what to do when she comes.

 

Political Commentary will resume in next month’s edition.

 

 

Next Edition (June 17, 1996):

https://libertycrusader.wordpress.com/libertarian-crusader-diary/archived-back-issues/june-1996-lcd/

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