On The Road To 2008 - Commentary on issues as we countdown to the next opportunity to change the direction of America

Thursday, July 03, 2008

A Simple But Powerful Message Garners Huge Support

Tuesday was a bad day for WA-08 candidate Darcy Burner. Her house went up in flames. She and her family barely escaped before the raging fire engulfed just about all her possessions, and unfortunately killed her cat. The family dog somehow managed to survive despite being caught inside the house while it burned down.

That afternoon while visiting the Seattle Times Web site I came across this front page:

The photo of Darcy Burner with the gutted house behind her was heart wrenching, but I was also taken by the T-shirt she was wearing.

The caption for the photo made mention she was "wearing a gray T-shirt", but fellow geek that I am, I understood that this was XML code for "End War", and knowing she must have been wearing it when she was woken up by the screams of her son Henry when the fire started, said to me something more. The primary issue that Darcy has made the central focus of her campaign is bringing a responsible end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. She doesn't just campaign about this, she's consumed by it, and literally eats, sleeps and drinks the issue. Her passion led her to spearhead the creation of A Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq, that has now been endorsed by over 50 other candidates for Congress.

So there she was wearing a simple T-shirt, yet it said so much, so concisely.

At Drinking Liberally that evening I showed fellow bloggers the photo and the quick posting I'd put up about it. David Goldstein of HorsesAss.org was there and talked about working with national blogs to do a campaign fundraiser to help raise money while the Burner family dealt with rebuilding their home and the loss of their possessions. He and others also saw the power of the photograph when I showed it to them, particularly within the Netroots, a grassroots group fervently against the war and made up of a lot of geeks who'd recognize what the T-shirt was saying.

The next morning I quickly threw up a similar posting at Daily Kos, which got a modest number of recommends and comments. An hour later Goldy posted his fundraising appeal, which was quickly joined by postings at Open Left, Eschaton, MyDD, and Swing State Project, but most significantly by one by Markos at Daily Kos. The goal: raise enough money for the campaign so that Darcy could spend as much time she needed focusing on her family and new house. The estimate was that every $5,000 raised would buy her an extra day she would be able to spend putting her personal life back together. Markos' ambitious target was $150,000, enough to buy her a full month of such personal time. All of these online appeals showed a copy of the same photograph with the T-shirt.

At 11pm on Tuesday night Darcy Burner's ActBlue totals for this election cycle stood at 7,669 supporters and $247,088 raised. Within 40 minutes of Kos' posting $8,000 had been raised. That grew to $15,000 in a little over an hour. By noon, $30,000 had been raised. By 1am this morning the totals stood at 9,095 supporters and $327,099 raised. Twelve hours later and we're at 9,343 supporters and $341,012 raised.

In little over a day the Netroots have raised, through ActBlue alone, $93,924 from 1,674 supporters, for an average of $56 per supporter. Surely more has come in directly to the campaign. That's simply amazing!

Last year the Netroots also rallied in support of Darcy Burner when George Bush came to Bellevue for a Dave Reichert fundraiser. Over a four day weekend period in late August, in an election off-year, the Netroots collectively raised close to $125,000. Back then the impetus was George Bush's visit. That drive managed to negate its effect and propel Burner to a better fundraising quarter than her opponent. It also led to the germination of the Responsible Plan.

This time Burner's personal loss, and that simple T-shirt have managed to garner an even greater response from Netroots supporters, and will help propel Burner into the final four months of this campaign with added determination and drive.

This is a critical time for the campaign due to the head to head nature of this year's primary. With only 46 days until the August 19 primaries, there are only 16 more days left to register by mail to vote or to transfer a voter registration if you've recently moved, or 31 days to do so in person if you want to be able to vote in the primary. If Darcy cannot campaign or fundraise during this time we need to help her out. Your donation is one way you can help. Volunteering to help get people registered is another, or you can simply spread the word by talking to your neighbors and friends to remind them.

Washington state residents can register to vote online

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