Adam's Political Career
It all began with a birthday present my father gave me. The present was a deck of President Cards that ran from Washington to George H.W. Bush. The Presidents Cards quickly became a favorite study item, and I kept them with me always. It took me several months, but I memorized the names of all the Presidents, and a interesting fact about each of them. My efforts earned me $10 from my father.
It also began a lifelong study of politics. In the early days, my mind couldn't handle the huge autobiographies Presidents wrote about themselves, so I had to settle for the Encyclopedia of Presidents, which gave brief overviews of the Presidents life and career, as well as children's books about them. I remember reading volumes about Martin Van Buren, Millard Fillmore, George H.W. Bush, Thomas Jefferson, Calvin Coolidge, Andrew Jackson, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln.
I quickly went from being annoyed that the Republican National Convention pre-empted a piece of programming I want to see, to studying up on the political process. I decided at the age of ten that I was a Republican, primarily because that party was the pro-life political party. It was quite a decision given that my grandfather was a Socialist (possibly Communist) and both my parents came from families that viewed Democrats as the party of the people. Still, I can't help but think I moved Mom and Dad in the right direction. Dad is an Independent who hasn't voted for a Democrat in more than 30 years and much the same goes for Mom.
My early political efforts were focused in the pro-life movement. I collected signatures against abortion during my family's ministry travels and actually appeared in a 1991 issue of the Denver Post about the annual Life Chain in that city.
I didn't send in the signatures as millions had already been given to Congress, but this was just the beginning of my political life.
In July of 1992, my dad watched the Republican Convention, where family values were highly touted. Though many view that convention as a disaster, it brought my dad and mom to supporting the GOP. My dad saw President Bush's acceptance speech and after twenty-four years of not voting, announced to mom, "We need to go register to vote, and support the Republicans."
In October, 1992, my family became involved in Flathead Pro-Life and for three years, I would focus my energies on that group as well as on the Flathead Teens for Life (which I founded, but was never able to get off the ground.)
I took part in pickets, life chains, and life marches. I participated in meetings and made many mistakes, but learned a lot in the process. I wrote letters to the editor, many of which were published in the Daily Interlake.
During this time, I also began to develop a strong Conservative core of beliefs, through reading Rush Limbaugh's two books, "See I Told You So" and "The Way Things Oughta Be." Later, that conservatism would be deepened by Alan Keyes and "Slouching Towards Gomorrah" by Robert Bork.
In 1995, we began to back away from pro-life activism as dad considered the focus too narrow, focusing only on abortion and not other evils. But we didn't replace that involvement with any other groups, such as the Christian Coalition. We just simply withdrew.
In late 1995, we moved to Eureka and my political life was dead for about a year, except for following Alan Keyes' campaign on C-Span. I became active in that campaign in March, 1996. After waiting three months for the campaign to send me petition forms, I got on the street and started collecting signatures to get Keyes on the ballot. I collected 500 signatures in two weeks. This wasn't enough, as he needed more than 2000 to make it.
I also did another petition for CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Committee. I was part of their well-organized, yet highly unsuccessful, plan to recall several US Senators who opposed the Partial Birth Abortion Ban. Our Senator couldn't be recalled, so rather I collected signatures for a "Petition of Shame" against Montana's own Pro-Abortion Senator Max Baucus (D-MT). I spent the last hour of my petition effort collecting signatures outside of the Senator's office. I wrote him a letter warning him that he was in danger of losing touch with Montanans and being defeated as Former Senator Larry Pressler (R-SD) had been when he lost touch with his constituents after too long in Washington. I urged Senator Baucus not to respond to my carefully thought-out letter and 450 signatures with a generic form letter. Max Baucus, being Max Baucus, responded with a generic form letter.
My political activity was limited until 1998. I had begun contacting grassroots people who were interested in a second run by Dr. Keyes for the presidency advising them to get organized in 1998. Regrettably, we didn't get organized early, get precincts established, and get ourselves to do battle, so we got our teeth kicked in.
In the Fray(1998-2000)
The Clinton Scandal was breaking this year and I saw the corruption of American politics spread large upon the news. I made a decision in August. I had always thought I'd run for political office at the age of eighteen, when I was first eligible in Montana. I had found no office I could run for and as unemployment was high in Eureka, I couldn't even afford the filing fee. After the Clinton Scandal broke, I felt that we needed a fresh start in politics with new leaders who valued honor and integrity. Because of this, I decided to enter the Lincoln County Treasurer's race as a registered write-in.
It was a campaign I never expected to win. My budget was limited to $120, but I got publicity. I made an appearance on the front page of the Tobacco Valley (Lincoln County) News. Being just barely 18 on election day, I was the youngest candidate for political office in the Country as far as I knew. The Democratic nominee/incumbent crushed me by a nearly 30:1 margin on Election Day, as I won 4% of the vote on Election Day. Still, that wasn't too bad for a write-in.
My efforts with Alan Keyes were far more successful. I contacted every true Conservative political leader I could find and gained the support of nearly a dozen current and former legislators for the campaign (a higher percentage than any other state coordinator in the nation.)
When it came to getting Keyes on the ballot, I was on my own for the most part. I collected 90% of the required signatures to gain Dr. Keyes' ballot access in Montana. I sat through all kinds of weather, day after day during a period in which I was between low-paying fast food jobs. I sat outside dozens of local grocery stores and post offices seeking signatures. Still, in the end, I gathered more than 500 signatures and Alan Keyes made the primary ballot.
Montana is a huge state and my ability to help the campaign was limited to my home county (the Flathead). In reality, a good state coordinator needed a strong budget for travel to get the state organized. That wasn't available in the shoestring Keyes campaign. So we depended on last minute organizing efforts centered around Dr. Keyes' appearances in the state.
I was fortunate enough to attend one of the two events. While being state coordinator didn't make me special enough to get reserved seating for the event, God still worked out a way for me to get a great seat. Our Lieutenant Governor was supposed to come to the event, but bailed. I got to sit right behind where she would have sat with a perfect view of the man I'd been working for so many years without ever seeing in person.
Dr. Keyes delivered a magnificent speech (as he always does) and afterwards I got to shake his hand and got him to autograph the back of an old Republican Central Committee Agenda. I laminated it the next day. It's a treasured memento of a very special time.
Too often, people think they have nothing to contribute. Nothing they do will make an impact. Yet, at this huge event in Missoula, with an overflow record, while the organizers of the event deserved credit for getting the word out, without my efforts, there would have been no event, as Dr. Keyes wouldn't have been on the ballot, or come to the state.
The 2000 campaign reminded me that even though I can't change the world on my own, I could make a difference. Anyone can. If they're willing to put in their part and contribute what they have, they can make a huge difference if they only try.
While Dr. Keyes gained 18% (his 5th best showing in the nation) against George W. Bush, I won my election for Republican Precinct Committeeman without opposition in the June, 2000 primary.
Despite my best intentions, I wasn't much of a Precinct Captain. I never had time to canvas my precinct like I wanted to. Given the obligations of Church and Work, I never could find time. When School started, I was often unable to attend Republican Central Committee meetings to boot. I did man the Republican Fair Booth in 2000, so I wasn't a total waste.
I continue to have concerns about where our nation, state, and county are heading. Creeping Socialism and government dependence are quickly taking root once again. Part of this is caused by my party that is quickly abandoning principle in exchange for a hollow pragmatism, which will not bring change to America, or victory for the GOP.
In December of 2002, I was re-appointed to the Central Committee and this time hoped to play a more active role in the party. In May, at the County Convention, I was unanimously chosen to serve as Secretary of the County Republican Party.
In 2003, I moved to Garden City, determined to not run for office until 2006. but I changed my mind as I read about where the incumbent in my district, a pro-abortion Democrat out of touch with the common people. I filed, but so did another Republican. My opponent was older and more experienced in Idaho politics, but I gave him a run for his money by going door to door visiting more than 2200 homes in Boise and Garden City. I still only garnered 37.5% of the vote. However, considering that I was outspent 4:1 and this was my first election in Idaho, most everyone agrees my performance was very good.
The big lesson I learned with this campaign is that self-financing only works for the wealthy. While I remain determined to make a difference for my state and community, I will not run again without financial support. As the scripture says, "Who goeth to war at any time at his own expense?"(1 Cor. 9:7)