At the Democratic State Convention in Yakima, Washington several weeks ago, we had just heard 5th District Congressional candidate Peter Goldmark make an impassioned speech to the Convention. People afterward were heading off to lunch and I decided on a whim to ask people walking by his campaign table to show their support for Goldmark by making a contribution.
Well, people started stopping in mid stride and coming over to the Goldmark for Congress table, taking envelopes, writing checks and putting cash in envelopes. A friend of mine quietly whispered with his wife and they wrote out a $2000 check. A Goldmark volunteer at the table later said she thought she did great when she had someone hand her a $1000 check.
I do not know how much else went into the envelopes, but between writing checks, putting cash in envelopes and people taking envelopes for later contributions, we ran out of envelopes. A rush was made to get more envelopes.
There was very much a sense that rancher and former WSU regent Peter Goldmark is going to surprise a few people. Later I had a chance to talk more in depth with Peter Goldmark when he visited Seattle. We had coffee on Capitol Hill with another blogger, Mollie who blogs at Liberal Girl Next Door. Molly has written a separate post of her impressions of this meeting.
We started out by discussing how his campaign was going. Goldmark mentioned that he had a series of fundraisers planned and that things were picking up. He was putting together a campaign staff and things were coming together.
The end of June is the end of the next reporting period for contributions and expenses reported to the Federal Election Commission. Latest indications from a recent blog of DailyKos indicate Goldmark will probably have raised over $200,000 by the end of this reporting period. When I met with him he had around $150,000, so he has picked up another $50,000 in the last two weeks. That is a good start and I think things will continue to pick up as he moves along.
Goldmark in many ways did not come across as a politician when I talked with him. We talked in general about his campaign. He is a late starter in his campaign because he had second thoughts about running but he certainly does not convey any hesitancy now. Having run myself twice for Seattle City Council and twice coming in third in crowded primaries, I knew first hand the tremendous amount of time and energy that needs to be committed to put together a credible campaign. Goldmark has the drive and conviction that a winning candidate needs.
What stuck me about Goldmark was that he spoke with conviction about what he wanted to do and why he was running. His positions did not seem nuanced to be what he thought people wanted to hear but why he believed the way he did. He called himself an independent Democrat and he spoke as one. He did not evade questions but was direct and to the point
For example, he spoke of the need for an “intelligent exit” from Iraq, how the Iraq government needed to take control, stop squabbling and get their act together. “We need to take care of our country, they need to take care of theirs.”
This sense of taking care of our own people was a constant theme in what he spoke about. He views that his primary task as a Congressman is to represent the people of the 5th Congressional District first and that national and international issues are secondary.
While he has conviction on national issues I was impressed with his well thought out positions and ideas on how he could better represent the voters and constituents of the 5th Congressional District that his opponent, who does not have much of a record to show for her two years in office.
He was clearly not comfortable with out of state Washington consultants trying to put a national spin on the race. He had been interviewing potential campaign consultants and felt uncomfortable with their attempts to portray this race in a national context.
Despite his concern, the race has national implications but Goldmark couched his position on Iraq, for example, on its impact on budget cuts for domestic programs that affect eastern Washington. “The war needs to be wound up. The troops need to be brought home. It is too expensive and costly'” he said.
This fits with what he said were his priorities:
- to cleanup Congress so it represented the people,
- to bring Federal deficit spending under control
- to support education and heathcare for the constituents of eastern Washington.
In addition Goldmark’s agricultural background, both as a rancher and his public service efforts in promoting local agriculture by both growing and selling crops locally, gives him credibility to speak out and act in this important area. This included his push for sustainable agriculture and energy independence.
He spoke of the opportunity for farmers in eastern Washington “to grow national security crops. Agriculture is part of the solution. Grow it locally, process it locally and use it locally” He noted that there is currently a world surplus of wheat that the Federal Government is subsidizing. Wheat prices are the same as in the 70’s. Farmers are eager for other ways to keep farming and make a profit.
Goldmark is a strong and viable candidate who would do a good job of representing the voters of eastern Washington. He is a local person who knows local issues. He is a respected rancher who for 30 years has lived the rancher’s life in rural Okanogan County and knows agricultural issues. He has served as a Regent at Washington State University for 8 years and is well versed in educational issues. He received a PhD in Molecular Biology and understands science – something that would be an asset to Congress in dealing with scientific issues.