Campaign Retrospective – 2006
It was in January 2006 that I got the idea to run for public office. My dad, Wilber S. Acton, was elected to the Montana Legislature from Fergus County, Montana, in 1938. He won that election by a single vote! We have 4 far-right politicians from the Gallatin Valley and I was foolish enough to think that I could defeat one of them in a 3:1 Republican district. After a couple of months of learning the ropes of running for office I announced my candidacy to represent House District 69 in the Montana House of Representatives in Manhattan, MT, on March 16, 2006. I chose that district even though I knew it would be a tough race. For family and cultural reasons I love the people, largely of Dutch ancestry, that live out there. The fact that we don’t live in the district didn’t seem to be a problem as the incumbent also lived outside it. As it turned out, my optimism was unrealistic even though we ran a good race — managed by a delightful woman, Carol Stahl.
Campaigning sure filled our field of view for about 9 months. After filing my papers the first order of business was to raise funds for the race. We compiled a 330 person mailing list from our Christmas card list plus professional associates. This is the letter we sent out. Amazingly, 162 folks responded — raising $13,547! Later on, the O’Connors hosted a delightful fund-raiser and we sent out a second letter. All told we spent $22,691.29 of your money, $1000 of our own, and a $500 birthday present from my sister Monte. There were 299 separate contributions. The total ($24,191.29) amounts to $2.90 per registered voter in HD69. In the end, after paying ourselves for a portion of the auto expense from 4570 miles of driving, the campaign account has been zeroed out.
We had a wonderful group of volunteers and gave it our best. An experienced Democrat said that ours was, “The best campaign he’d ever seen.” Loren even got the endorsement of the Bozeman Chronicle, a paper that tends to tilt Republican. The team knocked 3500 doors and sent out 13,240 pieces of mail. We ran radio ads 4 times a day on 9 stations for 19 days and published a total of 53 print ads in 6 different local papers. The Acton campaign took part in parades in Three Forks, Manhattan, Belgrade, and Bozeman. Loren was interviewed on 6 radio shows and spoke at a couple of candidate forums. On election day 10 volunteers made over 1000 Get-Out-The-Vote phone calls to households we’d identified (from our door knocking during the campaign) as possible supporters . The final vote was 1791 for Loren and 3314 for the incumbent, Col. Jack Moore Wells (ret.). Check out campaign photos for pictures and here to see newspaper pieces and other documents from the campaign.
House district 69 is in east Gallatin County. The principal urban areas are River Rock (near Belgrade), Manhattan, Three Forks, Willow Creek, Amsterdam and Churchill. Precincts 7-13 are designated by the black numbers in the figure. The table shows the precinct by precinct results. It was disappointing to not win in a single precinct.
Of course, Evelyn and I have been asked, “Will you run again?” It is far too early to say. However, one thing is sure. If we do, it won’t be in HD69!!!!
Click on image to see full size.