At some point, I realized that I wasn’t going to get to 10,000 signatures. I had a good plan. I didn’t have a team — paid canvassers, unpaid volunteers. How much time could I realistically spare with a full-time job, and a disabled wife? Where could I legally petition without too much trouble?
I am a stranger. I moved here because my wife is from these parts. Most importantly, I didn’t have too much money. But I had plenty of time. I started on Feb 9, 2021 — before anyone knew the seat was in play.
Every morning, in good weather, I petitioned at the Gateway Arch. I had a clipboard, petition forms, pens. When I started, I would politely actively engage passerbys with my candidate message and asking them to sign. “I am running for U.S. Senate. I need 10,000 signatures. Will you sign my petition.” This was an in-your-face meet and greet.
The petitioning process soon morphed with the addition of my acoustic guitar and playing songs. My thought was that playing music would break the ice, and get people in a good mood. The politicians with the money all spent it on elaborate sound systems and music and video walls at their pep rallies. So it made a lot of sense that one man with a guitar could stage his own pep rally.
To illustrate my point, consider Donald Trump’s January Sixth rally. He was speaking on U.S. National Park service land, and had a rally permit. The National Mall is Federal property. Donald Trump had a wall of sound that day, and large video screens. That is typical for Trump rallies. I estimate his average sound level at 100 decibels. In contrast, my one man show at the U.S. National Gateway park had a single acoustic guitar and no video at all. I estimate my average sound level at 80 decibels. That’s a 20 decibel difference. Every increase of 10 dB on the decibel scale is equal to a 10-fold increase in sound pressure level (SPL). His rally is 100 times louder than my rally.
— Noah Gray (@NoahGrayCNN) November 27, 2019
I would alternate between playing a few songs, then approaching people with my petition. But I really didn’t have the energy to do that. And so after
months, it became simply me playing songs. People would approach me with money, and I would ask them for their signatures. I guess it lost much of its original purpose. But what I found was that people really enjoyed my guitar playing. And so, after the deadline passed, I continued to play.
I got a lot of really positive feedback from lots of people. Hearing the soft sounds of an acoustic guitar, out in an open park, really cheers people. I guarantee you, I would not be playing if I hadn’t gotten the well-wishers.
Yesterday, while I was playing, I thought to myself, how negative are the songs I sing. “Where are all the flowers?” is all about men dying on the battlefields. “All aboard, America” is all about the battles our Nation has faced on our journey to find and keep freedom. Again, men dying. “Sing me back home”, a song about death row. I resolved that I would try to find some positive songs to sing.
Today, when I think about it again, I see that there is lots of hope in these songs. “Where are all the flowers?” talks about rebirth and renewal. “All aboard, America” talks about how we have achieved freedom — a feat that few other countries can boast. And “Sing me back home” tells that even a death row inmate can find freedom in a song.
Today, the petitioning is over. Today, the primaries are over. John F. Wood is on the general ballot as an Independent. Eric Schmitt is the Republican nominee. Trudy Busch Valentine is the Democratic nominee. I see real strength in each of these candidates. And I see that we are being given clear choices.
Betsy Johnson is running for governor of Oregon as an Independent. Her campaign strategy seems to be what I was trying to do, circulating a petition to get general ballot access. And asking people to send signed petitions in the U.S. mail.
If you haven’t yet sent in your signature petitions, make sure you mail them this week to Run Betsy Run, P.O. Box 82205, Portland, OR 97282. Join us in changing Oregon’s future. (2/2)
— Betsy Johnson (@senbetsyjohnson) August 5, 2022
A discussion of what it takes to run as an Independent. interview with “John Wood on why he can win as an independent Missouri U.S. Senate candidate”
To clarify, my last remark, I registered with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) as an Unknown. The ballot access requirements for petitioning are identical as for the Independent, however, I think there is a big difference between being Independent and being Unknown.