(this guestpost is from a political organizer friend of the blog. –mgt)
Dear Rabbi Pesner,
Greetings! You don’t know me, but my facebook feed has lit up about you in the last couple hours. And so I wanted to say congratulations! It appears there is a trial balloon on whether or not you will run for Senator John Kerry’s seat shortly. Whether it is coming from your camp or from folks who want you to run, that the article is out is a good sign for your nascent campaign. I don’t know you, and so I don’t have an educated opinion on whether or not you should run, but I want to offer you a small piece of advice, one progressive yid to another. Looking at our friends in common on facebook, I have a feeling this is advice you’ve already heard, but I feel compelled to offer it nonetheless, free of charge.
If you’re going to do it, do it. Be like Nachshon. Take the plunge and run like you mean it.
If you decide to run, you’re going up against a guy who’s franking privileges short of incumbency. He’ll be incredibly well funded. He has name recognition and he’ll have the advantage of a special election where turnout will be abysmal. You need to be prepared to work your tuchus off. Prepared to step away from most if not all of your other responsibilities and focus on introducing yourself to MA voters and convincing them you’re the guy. You need to do as your newly minted junior senator did and get out there and shake hands in the cold, knock on doors, do all that you can.
Be prepared to hit commuter stops in the early morning, ask your personal networks as well as political donors for contributions during the day, sits with unions and community groups in the early afternoon, meeting parents at elementary schools in the mid afternoon, and knocking on doors, making calls, and hitting community meetings at night. This is your new Yaaleh Me-erev prayer. And if you won’t campaign saturdays (something I completely respect) then you need to have an even stronger operation and all kinds of surrogates working for you while you’re at shul/home/at a friend’s shabbos table.
Don’t fall into the same traps the Attorney General did on her campaign in 2010. Talk to people in every part of the state. Be prepared to treat every day like its Yom Kippur services; sometimes you’ll get to eat, but you’ll be giving a different note on the same pitch to congregations of many stripes across the Commonwealth, so be prepared for long, draining days. Another bit of advice- as people get more tired of mailings thanks to Citizens United, real contact with real people makes a real difference. Don’t skimp on your field budget- make sure you’ve got folks knocking on doors. And make sure you hire people who know how to win this kind of campaign. You’ve got to move quickly and decisively.
Best of luck, Rabbi. We can always use more Jews that represent progressive values in Washington. If you’re going to run, dive into it.