"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors." - Thomas Jefferson (appears in the Jefferson Memorial)


We shouldn’t let this go unnoted, if only as a model for next time around: Idaho 2nd District House candidate Jim Hansen’s fundraising.

Jim HansenHansen, a Democrat, is running a steeply underdog campaign against incumbent Republican Mike Simpson. Money was certainly never going to come easy, and Hansen decided early on that he would accept no PAC money, only contributions of $100 or less. His argument: “If at least 5,000 people donate $100 that ought to be enough to run a congressional campaign without going to the PACs and lobbyists that are strong-armed by Congress to fork over huge contributions every day. It is a leap of faith based on Jim’s convictions. The consultants inside DC think it’s nuts, but virtually every person Jim talks to in Idaho – ordinary voters – appreciate it as a principled stand. It is only risky if everyone who agrees with Jim sits back and does nothing.”

He acknowledged he’d draw some skepticism, and probably did. We weren’t dismissive, though, having seen the recently-developing power of grassroots fundraising.

So what has Hansen raised?

As of September 30, according to federal finance reports, he pulled $110,888, all of it from individuals.

Simpson has overall raised much more, $467,776 (and could have raised more, no doubt, if he felt more strongly threatened). But he raised $126,755 from individuals, not so much more than Hansen.

In today’s context, $110,000 (and Hansen has doubtless raised more since September) isn’t usually enough to win a congressional seat, but it is enough to get one’s word out.

Something interesting is going on.

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One Comment

  1. adamelijah said:

    One thing that’s going on with Hansen is Act Blue:


    He’s raised around $12,000 from them and who knows where else. With the $100 limit he imposes on his contributions, nothing gets itemized to the FEC, so it’s anyone’s guess as to to where all this money has been coming from, only that he’s had his hat in hat quite a bit in the blogosphere.

    October 24, 2006

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