A Message To

Vollmer for Congress



In case you haven't seen it, the recent news is that Terry Lierman is not going to run again for the 8th Congressional District, and that he will probably back Mark Shriver for the seat.

I have decided that I will run for the Democratic nomination to the 8th Congressional District seat. On March 2, I filed papers in Annapolis to run for the seat - - - the first Democrat to file for this office.

I will be running as (if we must use lables) a progressive liberal, with a focus on issues that include, but are not limited to: Universal single-payer health care, "Clean Money" (public financing) campaign finance reform legislation, protection of our fragile environment, new approaches to the war on drugs (emphasis on the medical and social aspects), abolition of the death penalty, civil rights and civil liberties, and world peace (emphasis on diplomatic solutions rather than armed conflict). For my positions on some of these issues, please visit the appropriate sections of this web site. The site is a work in progress that is revised from time to time. I welcome your feedback.

I plan to concentrate on grass-roots organizing, but the reality is that if this campaign is to have any chance of success, we will have to raise money for television and mass mailings. This is the aspect of campaigning that I hate the most, but the reality is that we are not going to have Clean Money legislation at the Congressional level in 2002. Later, I will be asking for financial support, but right now we are concentrating on long-range strategic planning. Please don't send contributions to us yet because we still need to set up the appropriate mechanism for handling the funds. I am looking for an honest, willing, and competent person to serve as my campaign treasurer; if you can recommend someone, please get in touch with me!

Please send me your feedback, both positive and negative, to this announcement. Let me know if you would like to volunteer for this campaign. And feel free to forward this message to others who may be interested.

Thank you for your continued support.

Looking Toward the Future,

Deborah Vollmer signature

January 1, 2001

A Message For the New Year

To Campaign Volunteers

Dear Friends,

The election is over, and it is time to look toward the future. On the national scene, the Presidency was in effect stolen by a supposedly non-partisan United States Supreme Court. The Court didn't have to take the case of Bush vs. Gore. Any pretense at impartiality was belied by the Court's taking the case, sitting on it for the crucial period of time which could have been used to recount the Florida vote, and issuing its decision on the verge of a statutory deadline and then declaring (without even considering extending the deadline) that there was simply no time to complete the Florida recount. It was a real wake-up call for those of us who have been brought up to believe in the Court's fairness and impartiality!

Of course, others will place the blame elsewhere. Had Ralph Nader not waged a serious campaign in Florida, it is almost certain that Gore would have won. So many will blame Ralph Nader. Others will blame Gore himself, for not waging a more vigorous campaign. My own view is that Gore lost his margin of victory to Bush in part because he failed to present an agenda progressive enough to appeal to the Nader voters.

There is now a great deal of negative feeling among Gore supporters (myself included) toward those who supported Ralph Nader -- especially those voters in Florida who supported Nader in a context where their vote really did make a difference. The challenge for the future is to bridge these animosities, and create a Democratic Party which welcomes and embraces Nader voters. Nader may have been wrong on strategy (my view, anyway), but with regard to issues, he did stand for the best of the ideals of the Democratic Party: a more egalitarian society with universal health care, protection of the environment, and major campaign finance reform including public financing, for example. The challenge for the Democratic left, and for the Democratic Party in general, is to reach out and embrace the Nader voters, despite some very understandable hard feelings. Many of us Democrats who are proud to call ourselves liberal have long thought that the Democratic Party has been drifting too far to the right. In anticipation of the 2002 Congressional elections, and the 2004 Presidential elections, it is time for Democrats to return to their liberal and progressive roots.

On the local scene, we need to begin to plan for the 2002 Congressional election. I hope that the Democratic Party establishment will reevaluate its methods for selecting candidates. There seems to be a pattern; certain influential Democrats put their heads together and decide among themselves who the nominee should be. That candidate receives early public endorsements from prominent officeholders, and Democratic clubs and organizations follow that lead. Inevitably, the candidate chosen to be annointed by the Party to run for the 8th Congressional District fits a certain profile: male, with experience on Capitol Hill as a staffer or lobbyist or both, and either independently wealthy or with the kinds of connections capable of generating massive fundraising. This is not to say that a person fitting the profile is necessarily a bad candidate. Nor is it to deny the heroic efforts put forth by the most recent Democratic nominees: Don Mooers, Ralph Neas, and Terry Lierman. But the Democratic leadership really should consider opening up the process, so that fundraising prowess and Capitol Hill connections do not take precedence over other qualifications such as education, life experience, creativity, and ideas for change.

To those who wonder whether or not I plan to run again, I will say at this point that I am giving it serious consideration. My previous campaigns have been low-budget and issue-oriented. I find it sickening that the common assumption is that only candidates who are independently wealthy or who have fat-cat connections are politically viable. The reality is that a lot more can be done with low-budget, grass-roots organizing than most candidates ever realize. But it is also the case that in the high-priced media market of the 8th Congressional District, television advertising is beyond the reach of candidates without significant funds. If I do decide to run, I will have to grit my teeth and do some fundraising. And should I be successful, I will have to immediately begin fundraising for the next election cycle. Members of Congress should not have to do this. One reason we don't have a more productive Congress in terms of legislation, is that members who want to stay in office are forced to spend valuable time fundraising for the next election cycle -- time which should really be spent in working on legislation and communicating with constituents -- not to request campaign donations, but rather to assess their constituents' needs and concerns, which might be addressed by passing appropriate legislation.

Whether or not I decide to run again for Congress, I do intend to continue to work for progressive change both within the Democratic Party and in the society at large. I will continue to network with individuals and organizations to bring about single-payer, universal health care. I will continue to work for real campaign finance reform, including the public financing of campaigns, and rules requiring television and other media to provide free and low-cost advertising for candidates. I will continue to work within the Democratic Party to make the process of selecting candidates for public office more Democratic. I hope that readers of this web site will agree with me, and join in the effort.

Looking Toward the Future,

Deborah Vollmer signature

March 8, 2000

Post-primary Message

To Campaign Volunteers

Dear Friends,

I would like to thank all of the wonderful people who helped with the Vollmer for Congress campaign. We made a good showing, especially when one considers that this was a grassroots effort on a shoe-string budget. For those of you who don't know it, the Vollmer for Congress campaign spent less than $5000. We were outspent by a multi-millionnaire who poured his own money into mass mailings and paid television spots. Some of you may be asking: where do we go from here? The following are a few of my thoughts, and I welcome input from any Vollmer for Congress supporters who would like to communicate back to me.

First, even though I believe the primary election was bought, I will be supporting Terry Lierman in the general election. So far as I know, Terry did not violate any laws; the election was not stolen, rather: it was bought. Terry played by the rules, but it is the rules that need to be changed. We need to keep alive the idea that Congressional campaigns should be at least to some extent publicly financed, and that there should be legislation requiring the media to give fair and adequate coverage to campaigns, including low-cost or free campaign advertising to all serious candidates. At present I do not plan to actively campaign for Terry. To do so would be tantamount to approving the current money-based campaign system, and approving what happened in this race. There can be no better argument for public financing and other substantive reforms than this very race. But because I feel it is extremely important for the Democrats to take back the House, I will be endorsing Terry. Should Terry decide to take the initiative and take on public financing of campaigns and universal health care (the McDermott bill) as major issues in his campaign, I would then reassess my position, and perhaps become a more active participant in his campaign.

In the meantime, I will devote my efforts to the issues I have been talking about in my campaign, especially campaign reform including public financing, and universal, publicly financed health care (Medicare for all; the McDermott bill.) I will also address the issue of the need to promote internal democracy within the Democratic Party. We need to get away from the current accepted practice of having powerful officeholders decide who should be the Party nominees for public office. Normally, the candidate selected is someone who is independently wealthy, with connections on Capitol Hill. We need to promote greater involvement of the grassroots. Again, this election was a chilling example of what is wrong with the current system.

And finally, some of you have asked me what to do with the Vollmer for Congress lawn signs. We do need to collect any of them that were posted on public lands. I ask all of you for your help with this. I would also ask that, rather than destroying them, you keep them, and return them to me. Although it is much too early to make detailed plans, I am seriously thinking about a possible Vollmer for Congress campaign in 2002. A lot can happen in two years, in my own life, and on the political scene. If Terry makes it, and if he turns out to be a good representative advancing the issues we care about, I will probably not run in 2002. But if he doesn't make it. . .

Please feel free to circulate this e-mail to your friends, especially to those of your friends who supported me in this last campaign. And again, thanks to everyone for your efforts, large and small, to advance the cause.

Deborah Vollmer signature

Democratic Candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives seat for the 8th Congressional District in Maryland

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