What a useful discussion of a challenge to this and other aspirational communities. As I read the comments, many of them reflect the need for a virtue I highly value - humility. Humility leads to double checking what you do, not assuming it is always right. Humility creates the desire to confer and learn from others. Humility acknowledges that other perspectives may be helpful in achieving the most effective result. In an organization it leads to creation of checks and balances, even when they may not seem essential
Humility is not a road block to progress. To me it is an essential part of achieving broad and effective results. When I was young, I often “knew best”. Sometimes that let me forge ahead and succeed, not being slowed by considerations beyond my vision. And that success often multiplied my sense that I was being effective, further limiting my ability to listen to differing voices. As I look back, I see how things could have been done more powerfully if I had exercised a little more humility.
Thank you, Charles, this is helpful. As I am trying to invest time as a volunteer in lieu of having much money to give to the campaign, I am afraid I can't spend much more time reaching out here - and you confirm my sense that, as someone unknown in the community, it is harder to have an impact. But I appreciate you taking the time to help me understand how things work. I am intrigued and generally supportive of what I know about EA.
Thank you, Charles, these are really good questions. I apologize for writing in haste initially. With the passage of time, I can add some more information and, hopefully, answer your questions and comments.
Why Salinas instead of contribution to someone else in this general election?
Assuming that Carrick Flynn came to know some of Salinas during the primary and that he reflects some of the values of EA forum, his contribution to Salinas in the general election is noteworthy. As quoted above from Flynn's twitter feed.
Today I donated the maximum amount, $2900, to #OR06's @AndreaRSalinas. I earned less than $45k last year, so my money is where my mouth is when I say that I believe she will do an excellent job representing Oregonians in DC. [1/2]
This is a tight race and we must win it not only to get Andrea into office but also to keep Congress blue. Please consider digging deep and donating to her campaign here: https://tinyurl.com/2p8m9nwh. And for those planning to help GOTV, I'm right here with you. [2/2]
In pursuit of answers to concerns about Salinas' focus on pandemic prevention, I talked with her. She would welcome consultation, lobbying, or other support from Carrick Flynn or other experts on what kind of legislation would be responsive to this issue. As vice chair of the Oregon house health care committee and majority whip, she demonstrated her skill at crafting and passing health related legislation. Andrea is also ready to move forward faster than many novice legislators. In her career she first served as an intern to Senator Dianne Feinstein in her San Francisco district office, then as legislative staff to Senator Harry Reid, as tax and trade policy advisor to Congressman Pete Stark and finally as a district aide to Congresswoman Darlene Hooley.
As to the probability of Andrea winning, the race is currently rated as a toss up by the Cook Political Report. While Fivethirtyeight's Deluxe model shows her winning by a good margin, the classic and lite models that rely more on polls and past data show either a much tighter race or her losing significantly. These models change daily, but have not trended well, partly because of an onslaught of negative advertising.
Finally, someone asked about examples of how the $13 million plus PAC and candidate spending for Flynn In the primary affects Salinas' current ability to collect money. I can give a personal example. In the primary, Salinas faced a barrage of negative ads near the end of the campaign. At that time, she had few funds to respond and asked for donations to make a low budget ad in response. I gave more at that time than I have ever given before to a campaign. She got the ad out and she won. Now, facing another difficult campaign with an opponent who has much personal funding as well as good outside support, I am not able to give as much as I normally would. I am maxed out for this year. I hear this from many people wishing to support this race. It probably doesn't make a big difference because our donations are a drop in the bucket compared to some of the large PACs, but it represents less discretionary money that the campaign has available.
I used to work on policy at a number of levels. I was drawn into also working on elections because I realized that sometimes the quickest way to achieve a policy goal is by making sure there are good, thoughtful, informed people making legislation and determining funding. Andrea Salinas is such a person. If one of the routes to achieve real pandemic preparedness is through Congress, she is a powerful candidate to achieve it. I urge you to help her get there. Thank you: https://www.andreasalinasfororegon.com
Thank you for this statement. I am including the current results from FEC filings here. It is clear that there was not only a lot of money spent to buy the election, but there was a good deal of subterfuge. Contributions to other PACs from Protect our Future were made just late enough to escape reporting until after the election.
One of the mysteries about this election was what the Justice Unites US Pac was. It spent almost $850,000 on canvassers for Flynn and touted itself as an AAPI led and run organization. Campaign filings now show that money for the PAC came exclusively from Protect our Future and supported only one candidate. Protect our Future spent over $10 million supporting Flynn and almost a million dollars against Andrea Salinas, the victor in this race.
These current filings also confirm that Bankman-Fried donated $6 million to the House Democratic Majority PAC just before that PAC gave an inexplicable $1 million to Flynn.
This was neither effective nor altruistic. It was an experiment in whether big money could overcome the unquestionable advantages of other candidates.
As someone who has both worked to elect candidates and who has lobbied at many levels, my experience is that lobbying can be quite effective if it is done with a candidate who shares your values and goals. I have done this mostly at the state level and find that, until they rise to a position of some power, candidates may not be able to achieve what they wish. In contrast to this, spending time with committee chairs who have much power over the agenda is quite effective, especially if you can establish yourself as a source of reliable information and policy directions. Both are valuable. Thanks for the article referral. I look forward to reading it.
As someone deeply involved in politics in Oregon (I am a house district leader in one of the districts Flynn would have been representing, I am co-chair of the county Democratic campaign committee and I am chair of a local Democratic group that focuses on policy and local electeds and that sponsored a forum that Flynn participated in ) I feel that much of the discussion on this site about Carrick Flynn lacks basic awareness of what the campaign looked like on the ground. I also have some suggestions about how the objectives you work for might be better achieved.
First, Flynn remained an enigma to the voters. In spite of more advertising than ever seen before in a race (there were often three ads in a single television hour program), his history and platform were unclear. While many of the ads came from Protect our Future PAC, Flynn had multiple opportunities to clarify these and failed. Statements such as “He directed a billion dollars to health programs to save children’s lives and removed a legal barrier that may have cost several thousand more lives.” that was featured on his website led people to come to me and ask “What did he do to accomplish this? Who was he working with? What does this mean?” These contributed to the sense that this was a shadow figure with no substance.
Second, Flynn made the mistake of assuming he could win a race with many qualified candidates. He had a chance just because the vote was split so many ways, but he consistently appeared less engaged, less experienced, and less able to represent Oregonians. His story of being a hard luck child had little resonance in a state where so many have lost so much to natural disasters in the last few years. His assumption that, as a freshman Congressperson, he could sway Congress with little experience in that realm rang false. Two of the candidates had worked for years as aides to congresspeople and touted their experience as a way that they could work to make a difference. In addition, the desire to elect a representative that reflected the diverse nature of our district - especially one that had a powerful back story of an immigrant father who gained citizenship through serving two tours of duty in Viet Nam - was powerful.
The EA community seemed to have gotten excited about Flynn because of his emphasis on pandemic preparedness. But, people in Oregon have multiple needs from their representatives and Salinas, who is serving her third term in the legislature and who has been a powerful champion for women’s health care, for environmental issues, for gun safety, for education, and for human rights among other issues, showed that she was able to understand and deliver on these issues. Again, in example, Flynn just said that he would defend women’s reproductive rights, with no further elaboration on how to do that or what that meant.
I am surprised that there was not more attention paid to the support Flynn had in Oregon. FEC shows fewer than 10 contributions to Flynn’s campaign from non-family Oregonians. This should have been an important indicator of support. This can be contrasted to over 750 contributions from Oregonians, many of them small dollar amounts, to Salinas.
In sum, Flynn may be a smart and kind man who won some of the vote because he achieved massive name recognition at the cost of $1200 per vote, but lost significantly because he neither articulated a clear history and direction nor demonstrated a commitment or knowledge of Oregon. In a smaller field, he would have lost even more by my assessment.
In addition, the negative and clearly false advertising that Protect our Future PAC used when it appeared Flynn was losing went against many of the things people on this forum profess to have wanted from this election:
Some 450 contributions were made to Flynn’s personal campaign from outside Oregon, many coming from followers of this forum, and many maxing out at the $5800 allowed for the primary and general election combined. If that same money had been spent to reach out to future Rep Salinas to advance the cause of pandemic preparedness, I expect it would have been much more powerful.
My reflection to those who were working with me in this election was “I love intelligent candidates and people who look broadly at the issues. But this must be accompanied by humility or it becomes dangerous.” I feel that this campaign, whether it was the candidate or the high spending PACs, failed to achieve this humility.