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How to Win an Election Without Campaigning

Discussion in 'Issues Around the World' started by Coot, Dec 16, 2002.

  1. Coot

    Coot Passed Away January 7, 2010

    Angela Speir has the power brokers and political pundits scratching their heads in amazement. She ran for a seat on the Georgia Public Service Commission and defeated a career politician who ran a strong campaign...only "She had no campaign committee, no campaign office, no campaign manager, no campaign Web site, no campaign platform and, at least in a traditional sense, no campaign".

    What she did do was this. Actually, pretty damned amazing in these modern times.
  2. Coot

    Coot Passed Away January 7, 2010

    Article reposted below---

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution -- Dec. 14
    When Saxby Chambliss outpolled incumbent Max Cleland last month, it helped tilt the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.

    When Sonny Perdue ousted Roy Barnes, it gave Georgia its first Republican governor since 1871.

    But a strong case can be made that neither of those two upsets was as amazing as Angela Speir's.

    Chambliss and Perdue ran aggressive, hard-fought campaigns. Speir, on the other hand, ousted a veteran politician in a statewide election without really trying.

    Political experts can't recall that ever happening before.

    "This may be as troublesome to the Democrats as losing some of the high-profile offices," said University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock. "She beat a guy who's spent his whole life in politics."

    The leading theory on how Speir, a virtual unknown, got elected to the Public Service Commission is this: Beneath her name on the ballot was the word "Republican." Her opponent, Lauren "Bubba" McDonald Jr., a political veteran and former candidate for governor, listed a "Democratic" affiliation. Speir was elected to the PSC, which sets rates for electricity and natural gas, because of the Republican Party surge.

    Speir, the first woman ever elected to the 125-year-old PSC, has another theory.

    "I do have a secret weapon," she said. "The good Lord above."

    The self-described "Christian lady" claims to have mounted a grass-roots effort to meet voters. But any such efforts were well-hidden.

    --She had no campaign committee, no campaign office, no campaign manager, no campaign Web site, no campaign platform and, at least in a traditional sense, no campaign.

    --Political professionals did not see Speir on the campaign trail until she showed up to meet President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney during their brief campaign stops in Georgia and at a statewide fly-around for GOP candidates days before the election.

    --Aside from the qualifying fee all candidates must pay, Speir's latest disclosure form, filed 11 days before the election, showed campaign expenditures of $16. (McDonald spent more than $140,000.) Speir said her final disclosure form, due by the end of this month, will show expenditures of $10,000 to $50,000, but when asked for receipts to document those expenditures, Speir refused to produce them or say what the money was spent on.

    --Candidates traditionally covet media coverage to get their names and messages out to voters, but Speir avoided the media. She declined to participate in voter guides by newspapers, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Of the 31 statewide candidates on the ballot in Georgia, the AJC voter guide published the photos of 30 candidates. The one missing: Angela Speir.

    --Speir's next-door neighbor in Duluth didn't even know she was running for office because Speir didn't put a campaign sign on her own front lawn until a week before Election Day.

    But however she got elected, Georgia taxpayers will be paying Speir $106,130 a year over her six-year term, plus use of a state-owned Crown Victoria if she wants it.

    She'll cast one of five votes that determine how much money residents pay for heat and electricity and how much major utilities like Georgia Power and Atlanta Gas Light can earn.

    That's why billion-dollar utility firms are scrambling to find out who this mystery woman is and how she became Georgia's accidental regulator.

    Angelia Elizabeth Speir (pronounced "spear") was born 35 years ago in Atlanta to Jack and June Speir.

    Despite the spelling of her first name, it was always pronounced "Angela." She decided to lose the "i" in Angelia for the PSC election.

    She grew up in Oak Grove, a middle-class neighborhood in DeKalb County, and attended Lakeside High School. She was a good student but not a particularly active one.

    "Even back in high school she was not a super-achiever, or super popular or picked most likely to succeed," said the Rev. Joseph Peek of St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Kennesaw, who took a typing class with Speir at Lakeside High and stayed in touch with her over the years. "But her qualities were a joy of life, a social ability to relate well with people, a genuine concern for completing her assignments and a genuine concern for other people and their lives."

    She also was driven. Speir had enough credits after her junior year at Lakeside to leave high school and enroll at Mercer University.

    "I was 15 when I made the decision to leave high school early," Speir said. "At a young age, I wanted to move forward. The driving force of my life is: Make things happen, time is ticking."

    She left Mercer after a year and enrolled at Agnes Scott, a women's liberal arts college in Decatur. She graduated three years later with a degree in biology. Again, she was not active in school. Her only affiliation noted in the yearbook her senior year was the group Future Health Professionals.

    What did interest her, however, was politics, especially Republican politics.

    That came from her father, a Republican activist who operated an Atlanta printing business that made yard signs for political candidates.

    Angela volunteered in GOP campaigns and pitched in at the family business.

    "No job was too small" for Speir, recalled Jay Morgan, a former state GOP director who has known the family for 20 years. "The Speirs were hardworking people."

    Morgan recalled that Speir volunteered in the presidential campaign of George Bush in 1988. That was her senior year at Agnes Scott. Four years later, at age 24, she ran for public office. She went for a vacant state Senate seat against Mary Margaret Oliver, who wanted to move up from the House.

    Speir's first race could not have been more different than her non-campaign for the PSC. She ran a well-financed, bare-knuckles campaign that year.

    "I remember the '92 campaign very well," Oliver recalled. "Ms. Speir was aggressive, in full attack mode. Her comments and her behavior and those working on her behalf, with or without her permission, were very frightening to me."

    During the campaign, Speir labeled Oliver "a big-taxing, big-spending incumbent legislator and nothing more than a puppet to the good old boys, with no concern for the people of this state."

    A DeKalb County newspaper published an ad from the Speir campaign that claimed -- incorrectly -- that Oliver had refused to take a drug test. The newspaper published a retraction and apologized.

    Speir lost the election, 61 percent to 39 percent, and then she essentially left politics for a decade. She worked as an executive recruiter for employment agencies, earning between $47,000 and $72,400 over the past few years, according to her financial disclosure form.

    She recently went into the employment business for herself, but said she'd spent much of this year caring for her ailing father and living off her savings.

    Speir lists assets of $187,000 in three holdings: her Gwinnett County condo, less than $40,000 in Home Depot stock and a 1996 Mercedes C280. In listing her liabilities, she incorrectly included her monthly mortgage payment ($849) instead of the outstanding balance on her loan.

    Speir is guarded about her personal life. She is single and dresses conservatively. She's businesslike and unfailingly polite, never forgetting to say "yes sir" or "no sir," and is quick with a smile and a firm handshake.

    She's an interesting mix of chutzpah and Southern charm.

    Next-door neighbor Sue Copeland said "Angie" generally keeps a low profile around the condo complex.

    "She minds her own business," Copeland said. "She doesn't go to the pool."

    Speir filed a declaration of candidacy in June and paid a $3,183.90 qualifying fee. Since no other Republicans sought the PSC seat, the nomination was hers by default.

    "I thought Mr. McDonald should have an opponent," Speir said. "I made the decision to run based on wanting to serve."

    But why the PSC?

    Although she had never attended a commission meeting or a rate hearing in her life, Speir said she chose the PSC because she was concerned by news reports of elderly consumers having natural gas shut off for nonpayment of bills and other problems with the state's natural gas deregulation.

    "I have a degree in the hard sciences," Speir said. "I'm an intelligent, forthright individual. I have an analytical mind that lends itself to understanding technical issues that are set before me... I can do the job."

    Speir filed her candidacy the same day as former PSC Commissioner Mac Barber filed for the Democratic ballot.

    Political insiders speculated Speir was motivated to run for the PSC to target Barber. Jack Speir's company was suing Barber for $17,678 for yard signs from his failed 1998 campaign for lieutenant governor.

    Speir says she didn't even know about the lawsuit when she decided to run. In any case, Barber was declared ineligible for the PSC election for failing to meet residency requirements, leaving McDonald unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

    Speir said she handed out fliers and shook hands with as many people as she could in such places as the Apple Festival in Ellijay and the Sorghum Festival in Clayton. But McDonald said he never set eyes on his opponent until after Election Day. The phone number listed on Speir's flier was her cellphone.

    Speir was a "paper candidate (who) did not campaign," said James W. Harris, the Libertarian who opposed Speir and McDonald.

    Asked why she had shunned the media, Speir said her campaign was "under the radar."

    "I won, and a lot of statewide candidates who did (court the media) and were endorsed lost," she said.

    Richard Kraus, owner of Health Unlimited, a DeKalb County health food store frequented by Speir, said he was "shocked" when she told him she was running for statewide office.

    "She mentioned it several weeks before the election," Kraus said. "I was like, 'Huh?"'

    But he's glad she won. It "gave me a little faith because you get so jaded," Kraus said. "Maybe there's still room for an ordinary person rather than the politician with his finger in the wind."

    Peek, who held the Bible at Speir's swearing-in ceremony this past Monday, feels similarly.

    "For Angela, it's not about power," he said. "It's about loving service. It's good to have people like her in positions like that."

    PSC candidates who were on the campaign trail noted with dismay that voters seemed to have little or no interest in their races -- a situation ripe for unpredictable outcomes. Some observers, meanwhile, believe Speir also was boosted by being a woman, and that McDonald was hurt by reports of his accepting campaign contributions from people associated with companies regulated by the PSC.

    McDonald raised $186,456 for what he expected to be a tough campaign against Barber and had spent $143,743 as of Oct. 25, the most recent filing date.

    Speir raised $1,250 and spent $16. The contributions to her campaign were the obligatory $1,000 from the state Republican Party and $250 from Alec Poitevint, a Bainbridge businessman who said he was repaying a political debt to Speir and her father, who backed him when he ran for GOP party posts. Speir also lists Rockdale County Republican Party Chairman Carl Dendy as one of her supporters. But Dendy said he knew "very little" about her campaign.

    "My support for her," Dendy said, "was to vote for her."

    The other newly elected Republican on the PSC, state Rep. H. Doug Everett of Albany, campaigned vigorously and won a series of endorsements. The veteran South Georgia lawmaker handily defeated Democratic incumbent Earleen Sizemore, who had been appointed by Barnes to fill a vacancy on the commission, 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent.

    Speir won with 47.6 percent to 47 percent for McDonald. The margin was so narrow -- 8,000 votes out of nearly 2 million votes cast -- that McDonald was entitled to a recount, but after 22 years in public life, he conceded instead.

    Nervous utility executives lost a dependable ally in McDonald and don't know what to expect from his successor. They did not contribute to Speir's campaign, and she said she won't accept contributions from utility executives in the future. Everett made the same pledge.

    That means there will be two new commissioners "with no obligation to any large donors or anyone affiliated with them," said PSC member Robert Baker, a fellow Republican who takes over as chairman next month.

    If Angela Speir got elected without much of a campaign, she's making up for lost time before taking office Jan. 1.

    Speir has been working overtime to learn the complexities of the PSC and the utilities it regulates -- and there are many.

    "Back to school," she said the other day during a break in her crash course at PSC headquarters near the Capitol.

    Armed with a legal-sized notebook, Speir has become a fixture at the commission, darting from meeting to meeting and getting tutorials from the staff on the arcane world of straight-fixed variable rate-making and accelerated depreciation.

    As always, she's been pleasant and courteous. But down deep, she takes pleasure in knowing she confounded the experts.

    "I know this boggles everyone's mind, that a young woman with no resources could be elected statewide," Speir said. "People said, `You're the mystery candidate.' They called me a novice, a no-name. I smiled, because people can now call me commissioner."

    By Matthew C. Quinn and Henry Unger


    To see more of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.ajc.com

    (c) 2002, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. SO, ATG,
  3. Aria

    Aria All shall love me&despair

    Man, I just registered for that energy site too. :p
  4. Ravenink

    Ravenink Veteran Member

    odd. that is just odd. If she was voted in merely because of her political affiliation, that is unfortunate. If perhaps the current PSC representative that she replaced had made a bad name for himself however, this would make more sense. Was that the case? Even though I live in Georgia I confess to knowing not a single thing about this race.
  5. ShinyTop

    ShinyTop I know what is right or wrong!

    More a sad comment on the American voter than a story of David over a Goliath.
  6. Coot

    Coot Passed Away January 7, 2010

    It would seem she 'campaigned' by going to state functions like fairs and the sorghum festival and getting her message out one voter at a time. Of course the party upheaval currently going on in the south probably helped her. What do you think Ravenink? Was it just a straight party line vote? How did most of the other elected offices fair?
  7. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    Thanks for obtaining copyrights on that. :)
  8. Ravenink

    Ravenink Veteran Member

    Well, based solely upon those I have talked to, she was largely voted in because she was a republican. Georgia politics are often very strange, with the main theme being how do we get rid of those in power so that a new person can come in and screw things up? I think that was largely the case here. After having a largely democratic state for awhile the people of Georgia were not satisfied with the results and so a backlash occurred on election day.

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