November 7, 2012
A Life-Changing Election in Oregon

You may have heard that we had an election this week. And you may have even heard that I was a candidate in Oregon.

Actually, something more than that needs to be said. Many, MANY of you were involved, providing advice, support, and money. Lots of people sent money. Early on, a local paper reported that I had received a significant amount of out-off-state contributions from the “national kiting community”.

Elect Gomberg

I’m a Democrat. But I received support from both Democrats and Republicans. One conservative friend wrote to say, “I don’t like your politics, but I like and respect you. You’re too far away to hurt me! Here’s $100.”

I’ve sold kites for a long time. I’m completely comfortable offering a product and asking a fair price for it. But asking friends for money – and receiving it – that I’m not used to. And I hope I never get used to it. I can only say that I’m more grateful to all of you than I can express.

The race is over now. And as the signs come down and the office closes up and the campaign dust settles, I wanted to tell Update readers a bit more about the past twelve months.

Small Business

It was a dark, rainy night last November when the phone rang. The caller was the Speaker of the Oregon House. “Your representative is retiring” he said, “and your name keeps coming up as a possible replacement.”

Susie’s wifely response: “If they are calling you, they must have called a lot of other people first…”

Over the past thirty years, I’ve traveled, presided over kite organizations, and built a successful business. I’ve also been involved in this community, working on economic development, tourism, and environmental issues. But before moving to the beach, I worked in the Capitol as a staff director, a committee administrator, and as an administrative law judge.

We live in a wonderful place and life is good here. You only need to look out the window to realize there is no better place to live. But life isn’t good for everyone. We have 9% unemployment. Young families struggle and seniors on fixed incomes worry how to pay bills. There is crime, drug abuse, domestic violence. And on the weekends, we send food home with school kids so they don’t come to class Monday hungry…

Susie and I talked for a week. And at the end, she said to me, “You’ve been preparing for this your entire life. You have the opportunity to make a difference. You can step up, or you can let them call someone else.”

When your wife tells you to step up, the conversation is over.

It has been an interesting year.

The district ranges from Waldport in the south to Tillamook in the north and inland to Sheridan. There are eight cities, dozens of communities, five ports, two casinos, a federal penitentiary, 50,000 people and a hundred miles of beach. Major industries are tourism, fishing, farm and dairy, heath care, and forestry. Half the voters are over 55. It is a beautiful, economically diverse, and definitely large piece of turf.

We held a kick-off event in December. The headliner was my old friend and former Governor, Barbara Roberts. (I was Barbara’s chief-of-staff when she was a freshman legislator.) Seventy-five people came out on a blustery night to give the campaign a great start.

Community Colleges?

Our first goal was to control the primary election. We wanted to be the only candidate. No sense spending time and money and losing friends in a contested primary. That election was in May and my nomination was not contested. But what a rush receiving a ballot with my own name on it!

In June, I made a staff change bringing Angie Allbee onboard as campaign manager. Angie is smart, committed, and indefatigable. She ramped up the energy, focus, and spirit of the campaign.

In early summer, we hosted several telephone Town Hall meetings. We sent out announcements of the meeting, and at the appointed time, 10,000 phones rang inviting voters to join the discussion. They could listen, come on-line and ask questions, or participate in telephone surveys during the call. Over 1000 people joined each meeting. Can you imagine 1000 people in a room discussing education, jobs, or health care?? That’s four times the size of the last AKA Convention!

Listening to Seniors

With the Primary won, we had to address a quirk in the Oregon election law. Here we can be nominated by more than one party. So we sought the nomination of the Independent Party who held their low-profile election online in July. Another Democrat filed for this contest and we spent six weeks searching out registered Independent voters and explaining the process to them. Because certainly, we didn’t want two Democrats and one Republican on the November election. We called. We wrote. We went to homes with a laptop to help people find their ballot. With 1500 registered Independents in the district, only 40 voted. We won 28 to 8.

In the summer we also did parades. Six parades! The district is 100 miles long and 50 deep. There are dozens of distinct communities, each with their own identity and celebrations. I walked each parade shaking hands and kissing babies. Be careful not to confuse those two!

Endorsements. I've been endorsed by business groups, teachers, unions, local college presidents, parents groups, environmentalists, women and basic rights groups, police and firefighters. I'm nominated by the Democratic, Independent, and Working Families Parties of Oregon. Oh, and don’t forget I’m supported by the “National Kite Community…”

And for the past six months, in sun, wind, and rain, we’ve knocked on thousands of doors. I’ve never had a bad experience on a doorstep. Sharing ideas and listening to voters is critical. Letting them look you in the eye, size you up, and ask questions is how the process ought to work. I lost a few pounds walking, and one cloudy afternoon, a small dog bit me.

Community Colleges

We raised money. An office, internet and phones, web page, a manager, and a professional treasurer to properly report all that money, costs money. And of course, there were a modest number of mailers and advertisements. We sent three brochures in the summer and four in the Fall. I went on the radio with a series of issue reports in my own voice. No professional actors for me with music in the background!

The funds we received early made the biggest difference. They established our campaign as serious and credible.

Small Business Guy

I tell people that a typical campaign costs about as much as an average house in the district. And it needs to be raised and spent in just a year! For new candidates, the challenge is harder.

In the end, the total costs came to about $175,000. That number still makes my head spin. About 300 individuals contributed. That is 10 times the number who helped my opponent. Amounts ranged from $2 to $2,000. Organized groups gave me four times more than my opponent. And statewide, I spent about half the average in contested or “open” seats.

Election Day early, the phone began to ring. Friends wishing me well. Legislators touching bases. My US Senator calling for good luck. Our party began at seven.

In Oregon, everyone votes by mail. Think of it like the entire state voting absentee. But that means at 8 pm when the polls close, we have results.

State Representative, 10th District

County
Lincoln
Polk
Tillamook
Yamhill
Total
David Gomberg
12,407 (61.78%)
504 (53.115)
1,961 (52.72%)
406 (47.76%)
15,278 (59.68%)
Jerome Grant
7,646 (38.07%)
443 (46.68%)
1,750 (47.04%)
444 (52.24%)
10,283 (40.17%)
Write-In
29 (0.14%)
2 (0.21%)
9 (0.24%)
0 (0.00)
40 (0.16%)
TOTAL
20,082
949
3,720
850
25,601

It is worth noting, in a year dominated by name calling, dubious charges/counter-charges, and issue attacks, in this race, my opponent and I never once exchanged a negative or disparaging word. He shared his vision, ideas, and experience; I shared mine. The voters made a choice. I obviously enjoyed the result. But I enjoyed the process as well.

Winning Team

To paraphrase the President, I didn’t build this victory by myself. Many, MANY people contributed their time, energy, personal endorsement, and money. The campaign was exciting. The election was humbling. I’m more grateful than I can say.

My biggest supporter? My biggest contributor? The person working hardest in my absence?? The love of my life – Susan.

In Oregon, the legislature meets for five months in odd years, and one month in even years. So I still plan to travel and to run the business. I’m still a kite flier.

Now with the campaign over, the real work begins. The ideas we articulated about education, jobs, and health care need to be translated into proposals and action. And the phone keeps ringing. Already, I’ve been asked to speak as the “representative-elect”.

Winning Team

Elections are over, thank goodness. But there is still an opportunity to vote.

GKPI is competing for a grant from Fed Ex. We might receive up to $25,000 to upgrade the business, add employees, and make our warehouse more energy efficient. We’ve also committed to give half to Cape Mental Health in South Africa to support their program raising spirits using kites in the townships.

You can vote daily from now through November 24th.

Please take a moment and click here.

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