State Rep - The Dean Campaign
The rest of 2001 and all of 2002 were fairly apolitical. Time was spent on Fiona’s early years. However, in early 2003, Aldon spent time researching the various Democratic Presidential candidates online. He was acquainted with Joe Lieberman, since he was from Connecticut, Dick Gephardt from his years in the House of Representatives, and John Kerry as the Senator from the neighboring state. He was leaning towards Kerry, but he wanted to know more about the lesser known candidates like Bob Graham or Howard Dean.
He liked what he read about Howard Dean and was interested to hear that Gov. Dean was speaking at a Meetup in New York City in March, 2003. Kim and Aldon decided to go to the Meetup. They got there early so they could have dinner at the restaurant before the Meetup started. It was a fortunate choice. They had a good dinner and good seats. The crowds grew and the place became packed. It could hold 200 people and around 500 showed up. It was the first time that Kim or Aldon had ever attended an event where a presidential candidate spoke in front of a crowd. It was electrifying
Kim and Aldon became very involved in Gov. Dean’s campaign. They started to attend other Meetups. They joined mailing lists and read about the campaign on various blogs. They read about an interesting fundraising idea. People around the country would have parties at their houses. These parties would be small fundraisers that anyone could be involved with. Gov. Dean would hold a conference call with all of these parties on the phone. Kim and Aldon decided to host a house party like this in April 2003. They spoke with people in Burlington and joined a mailing list to talk with other house party hosts.
One issue was how to get people to invite. Ideally, house party hosts would invite many of their friends and introduce them to the political process. However, in April 2003, Gov Dean was still not well known. People on the mailing list were trying to find ways to identify people to invite. Aldon found the list of people who had contributed to previous presidential candidates at the Federal Elections Commission website. He downloaded the list for Connecticut and sent an email out to the mailing list describing what he had done.
When people in Burlington heard about this, they quickly shut down the list and told everyone not to use the FEC data. Kim and Aldon were told they could not have a house party. It turns out that it is illegal to use FEC data to prospect for potential donors. Kim and Aldon were crestfallen and sent out emails to other lists where they had been trying to recruit donors saying that something had come up and they couldn’t host the house party after all. Yet they stayed very active in the campaign
Around this time, Meetup Hosts from around Connecticut started getting together to coordinate their activities. Kim and Aldon attended these meetings and got tied into the larger Dean campaign in Connecticut. Gov. Dean’s brother, Jim lives in Connecticut and he became involved as well. Out of this, a state steering committee was formed, which both Kim and Aldon served on. Kim headed up the coordination of house parties in Connecticut, and Aldon worked on the technology.
Over the next few months, Kim and Aldon had many great experiences with the campaign. They drove to Burlington to attend Gov. Dean’s official announcement of his candidacy. They stopped at headquarters and met Michael Silberman there, who showed them around. When the Sleepless Summer tour came to NewYork, they went in. Aldon volunteered to help sign people in on his laptop, so he had to be there early. Because of this Kim got to get right up front.
When Governor Dean announced that he would ask his supporters whether he should opt out of public financing at a speech at Cooper Union in New York, Kim and Aldon were invited to stand on the stage behind Gov. Dean. Then, when he made his decision, Kim and Aldon were invited to Burlington to sign the Declaration of Independence from Special Interests.