CO-7 Rubenstein at Denver 'Drinking Liberally'
He came in dressed in blue jeans, and only his Gin and Tonic set him at all apart from the couple of dozen beer drinkers who assembled for the semi-monthly gathering. He was friendly and sociable, and was quick to engage us with the question, "should the web come to Colorado politics, or should Colorado politics come to the web?"
I liked the open ended question, and I could tell that Herb had not just come to meet a few constituents, or to try to raise a few dollars, but that he was approaching this group for some real advice about how he could better tailor his campaign to the internet. He is running out of possible ways of pulling off a dark horse victory, and I felt he was hoping that the internet might hold some answers. He has a mass emailing coming up soon, and he wanted to know what would get us to open and read a two page email if he sent one. The consensus was to not bother with two pages if he wanted it read at all.
Before engaging people in smaller side conversations, he told the group a few anecdotes about listening to Bob Beauprez at a recent event. I enjoyed a moment when he was discussing the Republicans views of our economic situation, and Rubenstein remarked, "They made it look like the glass was flowing over when the glass is leaking. It's broken."
One person asked what he had heard from the DCCC, and Rubenstien said that when he met with them last month they told him they would be staying out of CO-7 until after the primary.
When discussing his campaign, Rubenstein mentioned that Arnie Grossman of SAFE (Sane Alternatives to the Firearms Epidemic) had joined his team.
Amendment 38 in Colorado would enable any person to bring a suit against the State to enforce a prohibition on State non-emergency services from being provided to non-documented aliens. To this Rubenstein suggested clogging the courts with thousands of suits protesting the use of libraries and public roadways by such individuals, as a way of illustrating the poverty of planning that would go into such a law.
I asked Herb to give us some ball park numbers on how his fundraising was going. He said he had somewhere around 60k, with about 50 of that being out of his own pocket. I asked specifically how this most recent quarter went, and he said that he did not have the full numbers yet, but it looked to him like it would be around $20,000. He also mentioned that Democratic consultant Terry Snyder, who in addition to other things managed Joel Judd's campaign for State House District 5, was now helping him to fundraise.
We had an extended exchange about the Rubenstein plan to put web enabled video cameras into public school classrooms as a tool to monitor the behavior of both teachers and students. I questioned him about the intrusive nature of government surveillance, and he claimed that the Broncos are under 'surveillance' every time they play, and that it enhances the performance of the players. I think there are some problems with that analogy, but I understand his point that there are currently too few tools that allow us to measure teacher performance.
My favorite part of the evening was when he strayed away from the bloggers, and had a conversation with a man whose ideas were either more cynical or more practical depending on your point of view. The one time of the night when I saw Herb looking uncomfortable and defensive was as the man explained to him, "Fuck issues. Nobody wants to hear issues. Give me principles you have that let me know where you stand. I don't want two pages. Nobody wants one page. People want bullet points; boom, boom, boom. If you can't do that you cant win. The number of words you use is inversely proportional to your chances of winning."
When the conversation turned to Herb's plan for high tariffs on China unless they clean up their worker safety issues, the man told him he was dreaming if he thought that there would ever be tariffs on China at all.
Watching Herb Rubenstein run into the bulwark of practicality that this man presented was very telling. I think the experience will be echoed as he takes his case to the voters of my district. He is a nice guy. He has ideas. Some of the ideas might even work. But to work, he will have to reach people with those ideas, convince them, and then get the ideas implemented. If anyone has any thoughts on how to do that, he seems open for suggestions.
If he had asked me six months ago, I would have suggested that he start smaller and closer to home, perhaps with Paccione's old seat. Tonight he commented that he decided to start with Congress, just like the sitting Republican Bob Beauprez did. I hope for his sake Democrats also vote based on who would make a decent drinking buddy, because I can vouch that it was an enjoyable night and I look forward to meeting again in two weeks.
Then again, I bet Ed Perlmutter is a beer drinker, and I wouldn't mind throwing a few back with him.