Q. When did you start and what have you accomplished?
I started up here when he announced really, so I came up here in mid-January. I was named officially as the state director...I believe in March, early March I was given the official title.
...but you were up here working from mid-January?
Yeah I was up here working out of--we rented some space out of a supporter's office, out of a conference room. I did that for about a month, then I worked out of my apartment for about two months, and then we opened this space May 1.
Q. And how many square feet do you have?
We have about 3,300 square feet I believe.
Q. And the rent?
The rent is market price which is somewhere between $2,500 and $2,600 a month.
Q. How did you come to settle on this space?
This was actually the first space we looked at. We fell in love with it. It's got everything I wanted, which was visibility, access--it's a first floor; there are no stairs. It has got the right dimensions and the right allocation of space. We've got an open area where we can put the volunteers and do our field exercises, but it's also got some smaller offices where we can put our press secretary and where there's some quiet, some quiet for myself and some other staff. It also allows us room to grow. There's an upstairs and if things get really heated and we get an influx of staff we could rent the upstairs. And it's not in the proper state to be rented to perhaps a reputable [laughs] long-standing operation, but for a campaign we can make due.
There is parking in the back--limited but enough for our staff at this point. Later on we may have to buy some passes. There's a public parking lot behind us... And it's got access. It's on Elm Street, great visibility. We have our signs in the windows. We can walk to get food and volunteers can walk in off the street so we love it; we've got no problem with it.
Q. Did you look at other places?
We looked at this one and we wanted to make it work and so we did the best we could to do that.
Q. What have you accomplished?
We have accomplished quite a bit. We have put together what I think is a very, very talented and impressive group of key activists and supporters around the state. I mean what everyone talks about is this invisible primary. There are only certain segments of the population right now paying attention. ...Who's watching the NBA at the beginning of the season. The real fans are. Most people don't tune in until the second half of the season or the all star game or even the playoffs. The people paying attention now are these key activists, whether it's 200 or 300 of them around the state.
Now they certainly trend toward the more liberal, left side of the spectrum almost by definition, I think. If you're a vocal activist in either party you more than likely carry beliefs that are more to each side of the spectrum. So a lot of people did not think that a more moderate, centrist candidate could pick up this sort of activist support, but I think we've done a great job of winning the support of some very well known figures--Jeff Woodburn, the former party chair; Marty Gross, the former mayor of Concord, very well known and respected; Chris Durmer, a very well known attorney in Nashua who has been active in Clinton and Gore and countless other races; Ray Buckley, vice chair of the party, who signed on, which was a major coup for us;...the Swetts, Dick and Katrina, who I think are the only Democrats to win statewide in quite some time.
So I think we've done a great job doing that while at the same time laying the groundwork for what we want to accomplish later on as more people start to tune in, and that is by getting these supporters in various regions, starting to build our organization, sign up more and more people using them, but also using the Senator as he comes in and meets people and gives his talks. And of course just building the actual operation itself has been an accomplishment--getting the space, getting everything hooked up, hiring staff.
Q. Do you have control over who's brought on?
Yeah, absolutely. I've hired everybody, working in consultation with our national headquarters and getting everybody approved of course. But again, I think we have a great advantage with the personnel that we've managed to attract.
Starting down here with having Ray Buckley on your team really full time is a major, major advantage that we have. Here's somebody who's been working on and running and winning city elections for decades, who has worked on the Dukakis campaign, as I believe deputy chief of staff. ...He lives and breathes this stuff, so having him has been a terrific advantage. He keys us into really the core Democratic constituencies and has been helpful to us. Having a guy like Bob Quinn, another very, very well respected guy, a former executive director of the party, as is Raymond, I believe Raymond was ED too. But Quinn is someone who's a former ED, very well know and respected around the state. Very close with the Swetts, but he was campaign manager of Jeanne Shaheen's 1998 re-election, so he's somebody that's well known and well respected. Our press secretary has worked on campaigns all over the country. She was actually cabinet level in Alabama; she was press secretary for the Governor of Alabama. I think she was 24 years old at the time. So I think she's a real star... Everybody here is very talented--has a lot of experience.
Q. You almost have to have a college degree to work on a campaign.
It's incredible. Pretty much. I mean we actually have one or two without, but it's gotten--it's an industry; it's become a cottage industry. It's been difficult, however, this year there being so many campaigns, so many perceived tier one candidates. There's a limited number of staff out there. Unfortunately the economy has probably freed up more people than might otherwise have been available. If this was a booming economy, and we had eight, nine candidates hiring staff, it might be even harder to attract people to the job.
Q. Can you talk about how you came to be state director?
Well I'd worked for Gore in 2000 and was traumatized by the defeat, as many good Democrats were. Ended up going abroad for a year--worked in the private sector for a bit...in New York and then went abroad to get a master's degree at the London School of Economics. And of course...very much missed it, missed the excitement of politics... When I came back--I had been very close with Craig Smith earlier in my career. I'd interned for him years ago when he worked in the White House and he'd been in touch with me. Originally I wasn't going to work against Gore. That was kind of my position--I was either going to work for him or I was probably going to sit this out and go do something else with my life.
Craig called me that he'd been doing some work with Sen. Lieberman, who I've had a chance to meet and work with a little bit in the past, in 2000 specifically, and wanted me to get a chance to meet him and see him on the stump and get my thoughts. So I came up to New Hampshire in July of 2002. I'd gotten back from England, finished my dissertation, and then took this trip to New Hampshire to watch him campaign.
And we did this incredible trip where he must have done five or six or seven events starting at 8 in the morning on the Seacoast, going into Manchester, back up to Rochester, back around--this phenomenal trip, and I had an opportunity to travel around with him in the car and was just really impressed with his comfort level--with each crowd, every question, you just got the sense immediately of the measure of the man. That here was a guy who is in this business for the right reasons and who is running for president for the right reasons. And I think that he is just remarkable in his authenticity. And I believe in a lot of what he believes in, being a more moderate, centrist Democrat... It's the only shot we have of beating George Bush, which I think is the ultimate goal of the Democratic nomination. I'd be happy to see any one of these guys in the White House over George Bush, but I think Joe Lieberman not only presents the best policy positions, he's got the best chance of winning.
...that was in July and then...?
That was in July. And then I decided he was my guy. Very
conveniently I knew he wasn't going to run against Al Gore so that played
a small role in it. Although what's funny is I found myself through
the fall-- I ended up coming up here doing some work for the Democratic
Party of New Hampshire, and I found myself wondering, conflicted.
Did I want Gore to run really; did I want Lieberman to run? But obviously
it was out of everybody's hands, and when the Vice President made his decision
I had mixed emotions--certainly felt that he should be running for his
re-election. But the next best thing I thought for me and the country
was give Joe Lieberman a chance, and I signed on almost immediately.
I came back in November and started to help doing some work with the Senator's
PAC, ROCPAC, and moved to New Hampshire when the decision was made.
# # #