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"A kiss from a Democrat?"

The unfiltered reality of a Democrat running for Congress in the rural heartland

I'm writing to you at 5 a.m. from a friend's house where my wife Peggy and I crash when we are campaigning below the bridge. Not many hotels for us. We need to save money. No fancy dinners, just local mom n' pop cafes, a lot of gas station food, trail mix, and Diet Coke. I've already put on 10,000 miles this cycle on the F150, traversing our massive district the size of Ireland. 36 counties. No stopping.

This weekend's mileage: over 500 miles.

I walked the parade with the Presque Isle Dems yesterday at the Posen Potato Festival and passed out Hershey Kisses to voters who are demographically likely rural Republicans. I'd say, "Have a kiss from a Democrat."

Hundreds of smiles and well wishes. One grumpy guy.

At events like Saturday's barn party with Cheboygan, Peggy gets photos with her cell phone, asks for petition signatures, and collects small donations. I mingle, address the crowd, and answer as many questions as possible.

We're usually the first ones to arrive and the last to leave. Like at Charlevox's family farm fundraiser, our gracious hosts help us find places to stay.

My team works from home. We send back photos and updates, Zoom on the road with spotty hotspot cell coverage (Thanks a lot, do-nothing Rep. Bergman), and grind, grind, grind — day after day, week after week. This is pure grassroots campaigning, and I still have a day job trying to keep my county safe and healthy as the medical director of the health department. {{FirstName}}, I'll always be honest; I love connecting with voters, but I hate fundraising. Money and politics don't mix well. A candidate's merit should dictate their success, not the size of their campaign fund. Campaign finance reform is long overdue. Our democracy should represent the voices of the many, not just the wealthy. But this is the reality. To win, we have to fight. To fight, we need funds, especially to campaign in the second-largest district east of the Mississippi — next to nearly the entire state of Maine. It's been a challenging quarter to raise money, but we must keep going. I know our online presence is impressive and professional, but no political apparatus is doing it for us. To save money, we turn away vendors and consultants and do everything in-house and on a dime. My team is just that good. No corporate PACs, no dark money, no ultra-wealthy donors. It's just us; folks like you and me. We've already been campaigning hard, we have more than a year yet still to go, and I've been dipping into my pocket to keep up this work. I can't do it alone. I need your help.

If you've given recently, my gratitude is eternal. Consider this a campaign update and thank you!


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