Category Archives: Congressional Campaign

Letter of Recommendation for Jonathan Hadley, Volunteer Coordinator for Richard Thripp for Congress

Here is a letter of recommendation I wrote for our terrific volunteer coordinator, Jonathan Hadley, shared with permission.


September 3, 2020

To whom it may concern,

Jonathan Hadley was the Volunteer Coordinator for the Richard Thripp for Congress Democratic campaign from June to August 2020 in Florida’s 6th congressional district, among numerous other roles. He was an incredible volunteer who put in tons of work on various projects as well as triaging and spearheading several important initiatives. He sent tens of thousands of text messages to voters and answered hundreds of questions. He created campaign plans, organizational structures, spreadsheets, Google Docs, and more. Jonathan helped keep our volunteers focused. He was our point person across Volusia, Flagler, and St. Johns counties. I tasked him with reaching out to various contacts and he could always be counted on to follow up.

In addition, Jonathan was a friend who gave me feedback and guidance when I needed it most. His experience as an emergency medical technician gives him a unique edge in politics, which he is a newcomer to, like me and dozens of other campaign volunteers. We were disappointed to lose the August 18th, 2020 Democratic primary with 28,661 votes (48.5%), but at the same time we are immensely proud of what we accomplished for Democratic values and progressivism in this district and throughout the United States of America.

Like me, Jonathan looks forward to working on other campaigns that are making a difference and that he can believe in. I highly recommend Mr. Hadley for a paid position in a future campaign. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

Sincerely,
Richard Thripp, PhD
Former Democratic Candidate for United States Representative
Florida’s 6th Congressional District

Campaign Q&A by Richard Thripp for Volunteer in Political Science Course

We are proud of Jessica Smith, who volunteered for the Richard Thripp for Congress campaign, works as a Team Lead Digital Organizing Fellow with the Florida Democratic Party, is a Financial Team Officer with the Florida College Democrats, and is now studying Political Science, Statistics, and Research at Florida State University. One of Jessica’s course assignments is to interview a political candidate. I was happy to answer the following questions.

September 7, 2020

How would you describe your background in experience and education?

I don’t have any background in politics and had to learn almost everything from scratch. I stayed in school for a long time, earning a B.S. in Psychology, M.A. in Applied Learning and Instruction, and Ph.D. in Education in an Instructional Design & Technology speciality by the age of 28, including 3 years of teaching educational technology to future teachers. At the same time, I studied financial literacy and financial education for my Master’s capstone projects and doctoral dissertation. I chose this topic because personal finance is intensely interesting to me. I think these experiences and skills helped me be an effective leader of a large volunteer force that joined my campaign in May–August 2020.

What is your current position?

Unemployed, volunteering for a few campaigns

How would you describe effective campaign staffing?

There are at least 3 things no campaign can buy: Enthusiasm, time, and competence. If you waste a day, you can’t get it back. No amount of money buys enthusiasm. I saw that in Michael Bloomberg’s campaign among others. I was in the DeLand dog parade in February 2020 (pre-coronavirus), and 2 paid staffers, young kids, were there from the Bloomberg campaign. They were well paid, but had no enthusiasm. I didn’t even have any signs yet but I was giving out business cards left and right. You have to have that sort of enthusiasm in your staff. It helps if they really believe in your cause. Competence is critical too. Rep. Michael Waltz has spent $1 million on his campaign for re-election as of July 29, 2020, but they do stupid and incompetent things all the time, like writing the ballot access fee check for the wrong amount, putting out tone-deaf social media postings, and constantly talking about Jacksonville (not in the 6th district) in the few times Florida is mentioned at all.

Overall, it is critical to have good systems in place early. We should have bought the voter file (“DNC VoteBuilder Florida” or “VAN” for voter action network) much earlier. It’s $3,500 for a congressional campaign. Reconciling canvassing spreadsheets is no fun. To be honest, our Democratic primary opponent ran such a ghost ship that it’s embarrassing we lost. If we were running for Congress for the 4th time we would have won for sure.

What positions do you feel are absolutely necessary in a campaign? Why?

You definitely need a strong candidate, and you need a core team of hard-working staff or volunteers who really believe in the cause and are willing to work late nights without a lot of rewards. I actually was my own treasurer, which I don’t recommend at all. Having a good graphics designer is essential. So many of our volunteers and supporters were enchanted by our campaign graphics. We would never have gained traction without Emily Humphrey’s work. A volunteer coordinator is important and a position we didn’t have until very late. You also need boots on the ground to go canvassing (even during COVID-19 leaving door hangers is important), place signs, campaign at early voting and election date, et cetera. Ideally you would have someone to bring in big campaign contributions too (we did not). Also, you definitely need a tech person (we had a few), for things like setting up phone banking, canvassing turfs, text messaging campaigns… These can be tricky. Finally, going back to the idea of a strong candidate, as a candidate you need to have policy chops and be able to boil it down to a middle school reading level. I had the former, but the latter was a big struggle. You also must treat this as a full-time job, even if you’re a volunteer candidate. Sadly, this makes it impossible for so many hard-working people to actually run.

Why is it beneficial to work in a team style similar to the one that you have described?

What I’ve described is bare bones, with not a lot of layers. Each person has a lot of work to do, but they have a big impact in the campaign. There are no layers of management or approvals to go through. For instance, we had a volunteer, Chris, with direct access to my Twitter. There were no committees to approve the tweets he was sending out. Of course trust is important, and I had seen his work and loved it. But even if we added a lot of red tape for Chris to post a tweet, it wouldn’t have been helpful. Overall, relationships and human connection are so important. It’s important to be 100% authentic to foster these sorts of relationships. The former Democratic nominee for this congressional district, Ambassador Nancy Soderberg, talks about that regarding her work in 1985–1992 under Senator Ted Kennedy. He fostered the sort of loyalty where no matter what, you were on his team and he was on yours, even years later. That’s really what I’d like to see come out of our campaign. It’s a 2-way street. Some of our volunteers are launching political careers from this, and I’m writing letters of recommendation, being put down as a reference, networking, giving and receiving feedback, and so forth. We’re not just packing up the shop and going home. We’re here to tell you that young people will have a say in the future of this nation. We’re ready, we’re putting in the work, and we’re making it happen.

What can be negative about working in this style?

Some people really dislike it. One item I didn’t explicitly state, but was implied, is that I’m the type of person who is always questioning and re-evaluating whether what we are doing is the best thing to do. What would make the most impact? For instance, when placing yard signs on public roads, you could tell some are being placed by paid operatives because they didn’t care about visibility. The sign would be blocked by a telephone pole, or blocked by a shrub. They did their job, but they didn’t do it well. I would try to get maximum visibility, even placing them at stop signs on interstate off-ramps which is definitely unlawful, but the way I would always look at it is that we’re up against an opponent (Rep. Michael Waltz) with a bazooka of cash who won’t play by the rules anyway. It’s asymmetric warfare. The ability to be nimble and get things done quickly is so important. We had a few volunteers who didn’t work out, because they just wouldn’t buy into this sort of culture. I guess you could call it startup culture. I didn’t learn this during the campaign, but it was my first chance to apply it at a large scale, having consumed a ton of books, articles, podcasts, et cetera on entrepreneurship, productivity, and team management.

What is your favorite position to work in within this style of campaign management (including candidate)?

I really enjoy being the candidate. I wanted to have big events but didn’t because of coronavirus. Being the candidate gives you a bully pulpit of sorts where people take you seriously and will really listen. Our platform wasn’t original (it was pretty similar to Bernie Sanders), but it didn’t need to be. I had a lot of analogies I could use to explain why the status quo in our society is ridiculous, and it isn’t even quite the same as it used to be, having gotten progressively worse under Donald Trump. I wasn’t even very good at being a candidate, but I think I got better toward the end. A major downside is that everyone’s a critic, and a lot of the advice you get is contradictory and just plain wrong. There are also a lot of people who are just looking for a punching bag and take it out on you. Even running for Congress, which you think people would know about, you spend a lot of time just explaining the district boundaries and what a member of Congress does, and then the rest of the time is taken up by people saying you’re too young, or complaining about the Democrats destroying our country, and so forth. That gets frustrating.

What are your goals for the future?

Kristy and I are spending more time together and with our son. He’s 18 months, and for about half of that I was working on a doctoral dissertation and the other half I was running for Congress, so I missed more than I should have even being at home with him most of the time. In the longer term, I’m at a crossroads and I’m not sure what I’m going to do. I had started the Education PhD program at UCF in 2016 thinking I wanted to be a professor, but I soured on that and would need a few years of K–12 teaching experience (although I’ve taught university students for 3 years). We are in the fortunate position of being able to take a break and to think this through carefully. Although it’s a gauntlet, we will probably end up running for office again at some point. It’s really something you get better at with practice, and we’ll win next time. We also want to play a role in the Democratic party and the future of the United States of America and our planet.

Sincerely,
Richard Thripp, PhD
Former Democratic Candidate for United States Representative
Florida’s 6th Congressional District

Letter of Recommendation for Emily Humphrey, Campaign Manager for Richard Thripp for Congress

Although my campaign for Congress was unsuccessful, we aren’t finished. In fact, many of our wonderful volunteers are leveraging their work on the campaign to launch political careers. I have their backs, 100%. Here is a letter of recommendation I wrote for our campaign manager, shared with permission.


September 3, 2020

To whom it may concern,

Emily Humphrey was the Campaign Manager, Web designer, and lead graphics designer for the Richard Thripp for Congress Democratic campaign from March to August 2020 in Florida’s 6th congressional district. She was our campaign’s first major volunteer and became a dear friend.

Emily is an experienced, top-notch user experience (UX) designer for a New York City ad agency (working remotely) and a computer programmer with experience in Python, HTML/CSS, MySQL, PHP, JavaScript, and other languages, as well was Web hosting and administration. She found me, first contacting me on March 7, 2020. She put her skills to full use in our campaign, for which I am in her debt.

Emily designed, planned, and implemented a consistent theme and brand messaging across our Web operations and printed promotional materials, using Adobe Illustrator, WordPress, and other platforms. She executed the design, printing, and ordering of our yard signs and nearly all other promotional materials (see below for a few). She executed all aspects of our Facebook ads and email marketing campaigns. She spearheaded our text messaging campaigns. Although we did not do mass mailers, she has expertise and experience to do these, as well.

Designers of Emily’s caliber do not typically get involved in political campaigns. Emily’s designs are superior. They were pivotal in our campaign’s success and in securing a groundswell of grassroots enthusiasm. We went with eye-catching yellow for our theme, at her suggestion. People still think we had thousands of yard signs. We only had 600. I keep getting calls from people wanting to hire our designer. Her name is Emily Humphrey of Edgewater, Florida.

Emily is a newcomer to politics, like me and dozens of other campaign volunteers. We were disappointed to lose the August 18th, 2020 Democratic primary with 28,661 votes (48.5%), but at the same time we are immensely proud of what we accomplished for Democratic values and progressivism in this district and throughout the United States of America.

Like me, Emily looks forward to working on other campaigns that are making a difference and that she can believe in. Presently, she is already assisting the Jim Kennedy for Congress campaign for Florida’s 8th congressional district and the Patrick Henry campaign for District 26 in the Florida House of Representatives. I highly recommend Ms. Humphrey for paid positions in future campaigns. To be frank, any campaign would be lucky to have her. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Sincerely,
Richard Thripp, PhD
Former Democratic Candidate for United States Representative
Florida’s 6th Congressional District

Print designs for Richard Thripp for Congress campaign by Emily Humphrey

Endorsement of Kim O’Connor for Congress, Write-In Candidate for Florida’s 2nd Congressional District

Kim O'Connor with Kristy Thripp and son

Kristy and I are happy to announce that we are endorsing Kim O’Connor for Congress in Florida’s 2nd congressional district. Please write in Kim O’Connor on your November 3rd, 2020 ballots if you live in this district. Sign up to vote by mail if you haven’t yet, and make sure to mail your completed ballot several weeks in advance.

Map of Florida's 2nd congressional district

Florida’s 2nd congressional district is the state’s largest district by land area, stretching across two time zones and including all of Bay, Calhoun, Dixie, Franklin, Gilchrist, Gulf, Jackson, Lafayette, Levy, Liberty, Suwannee, Taylor, Wakulla and Washington counties, and portions of Columbia, Holmes, Jefferson, Leon and Marion counties. The district’s most populous city is Panama City, on the western end (Central Time) abutted against Rep. Matt Gaetz’s district. Like several other districts including the 6th, due to a gerrymandering court challenge, the boundaries changed in 2016 to what is depicted above, which is extremely Republican (R+18 on the Cook Partisan Voting Index).

About Kim: Kim O’Connor was born in Allapattah in 1948. She graduated from Lake Placid High School in 1964, from University of South Florida in 1969 with a B.A. in Philosophy, and from University of Florida in 1977 with a J.D., and was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1978 and is an attorney in good standing.

Kim O’Connor is running for Congress as a a no-party-affiliated write-in candidate, and has previously been a member of the Democratic party and the Green party. She was elected to the Leon County Soil and Water Conservation District in 2004, and to the Hillsborough County Soil and Water Conservation District in 2016. In 2006, Kim ran for mayor of Tallahassee to protest Mayor John Marks and the city commission’s support for Tallahassee investing in the construction of a coal power plant in neighboring Taylor County, which ended up being scrapped.

Kim O’Connor’s website at Kim2Congress.com is under construction. In the mean time, she has shared this information about her platform:

Impeach Donald Trump (again)
Supports Black Lives Matter
Establish a $15 per hour federal minimum wage
Clean water, protect our natural springs and fight climate change
Medicare for All
No nuclear weapons
Supports the Equal Rights Amendment

Kim O’Connor has also written the following statement about her life and her background of public service:

After college [1969] I went home to Lake Placid [near Sebring] to help care for my mom who was dying of brain cancer and help with caring for my brother who was 13 when she got sick and 16 when she died. Afterwards I went to law school to fight the insurance companies. My dissertation was “Corporate Social Responsibility of Insurance Companies” (spoiler alert — they have none). I stayed home till my brother graduated from high school. He went to the University of Florida. I joined him the next year and attended law school.

After law school [1977] I ran campaigns. “Yes on 2” for the League of Women Voters (state ERA — lost), office manager for Barry Richard for Attorney General (lost — as I mentioned to you he received every newspaper endorsement in the state and Jim Smith’s money won). Larry Hawkins for State Representative — won. I was then supposed to be his Tallahassee aide — but Democrat establishment folks in Dade County put in one of their own. He was a very long shot candidate and his narrow victory took them by surprise — but they jumped in on day one and I was out.

I was very disappointed but decided to go to Tallahassee anyway and work for the Department of Insurance to realize my motivational goal of fighting the insurance companies. My first job was on the Unemployment Appeals commission. I interviewed from that for Department of Insurance. I was then recruited by the Florida Bar to start and run the Volunteer Lawyers Project — first pro bono effort of the bar — mandated by the Florida Supreme Court. A lot of fun. I then had my own practice as I told you and Kristy, until one day it hit 13 degrees Fahrenheit in Tallahassee and I said this is too cold. I closed my practice and headed South. I ended up in Key West where my first job was as a maid — but I soon became the assistant city attorney and loved it.

My Dad got sick. I couldn’t get him to move to Key West so I went back to Lake Placid. After he died I got a job teaching law in Zhenjiang, China. It was great!!! I love the Chinese people. I got sick — contracted SARS we believe — my brother told me not to die in China and come back to Tallahassee where I stayed until he died. That leaves me as the last of my family.

I never had a lot of money but have had an interesting and varied life.

Kim O'Connor with Richard Thripp

Kim knows the panhandle / Big Bend area of Florida well and is renting an apartment in Tallahassee (previously she lived in Tampa) in order to be centrally located in the district. Kim was a donor and supporter of my campaign (Richard Thripp for Congress) and visited us on August 20th, 2020, two days after our disappointing Democratic primary loss to Clint Curtis. Kim encouraged Kristy to run, but with Kristy not knowing the area and working on her degree at Seminole State College, as well as me accepting a job as Campaign Manager for Jennifer Coen and Judy Craig for West Volusia Hospital Authority, it is far more sensible to back Kim’s candidacy. Kristy is formally withdrawing her write-in candidacy.

Kristy Thripp's withdrawal letter

Please write in Kim O’Connor for the November 3rd, 2020 election for United States Representative in Florida’s 2nd congressional district. The incumbent, Rep. Neal Dunn, is an NRA-backed Trump shill who wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, defund the Department of Education, and other ridiculous proposals.

Background on Kristy’s write-in candidacy: We had learned from former congressman Alan Grayson that it is very bad for a Republican to be completely unopposed. Mr. Grayson told me that under U.S. House communications standards, being unopposed allows them to send mail using taxpayer funds (“franking”) to advertise themselves and up to two other Republican candidates up to the day of the election, which may be worth up to $200,000. Even the presence of a write-in candidate prevents this for 90 days before the election. (Although his logic was sound, note that Mr. Grayson filed as a write-in for the 6th district, which didn’t make sense due to the presence of Clint Curtis and I as Democratic candidates and Gerry Nolan as a write-in candidate.)

We saw that Rep. Neal Dunn was unopposed in Florida’s panhandle, so Kristy decided to run as a write-in candidate (at no cost) just before the April 24, 2020 noon deadline. However, Kim O’Connor also filed at about the same time. Had we known Kim would be filing, we would have instead filed against Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart in the 25th district, who did end up being completely unopposed. At this time, we are pleased to endorse the write-in candidacy of Kim O’Connor for Congress in Florida’s 2nd district.

Call to Action: Readers, please help disseminate this article to Democrats and others who might vote for Kim O’Connor in the 19 counties included in Florida’s 2nd congressional district, including the officers and members of each county’s Democratic Executive Committee. Click here for a PDF version to download and share.

End of Congressional Campaign; Thanks to Our Wonderful Volunteers!

August 21, 2020

We lost the August 18th, 2020 Democratic primary for Florida’s 6th congressional district by 3%. We are very sad, but this was a strong showing for a first-time candidate. We are proud of the 28,615 votes we received and your support! We will be continuing our work toward Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, universal basic income, and making Donald Trump a one-term president. Thank you all for taking a chance on a complete political newcomer and reformed Republican.

Like many campaigns, I financed some of our operations with personal loans. Please feel free to continue to donate or to leave your recurring monthly contribution in place if you would like to help. We are very proud of the movement we built as political newcomers on a shoestring budget.

During the campaign, we established a campaign website at ThrippForCongress.com and redirected Thripp.com there. I have now restored access to the home page of Thripp.com and will continue writing materials, endorsements, and more here. We also suppressed Thripp.com’s placement in Google Search results in order to avoid cannibalizing our traffic. I will be undoing this shortly. I do want to preserve the campaign website as well. Great thanks to Emily Humphrey for designing our website, campaign literature, and so many other phenomenal materials, my wife Kristy, well over 150 donors, and our many volunteers (please let me know if I forgot you):

Abbey, Adrienne, Alyssa, Amber, Andrew, Anita, Anne, Ashlynn, Augustina, Barbara E., Barbara M., Becca, Bernard, Bill, Britney, Bud, Cait, Cam, Carolyn, Cat, Charlie, Chelsea P., Cheyenne, Chris G., Chrissy H., Christina C., Christina R., Christine P., Clara, Clayton, Corinne D. C., Corinne H., Cory T., Courtney, Cristina, Danny F., Danny M., David A., David B., Dawn, Deanna, Denise, Denzel, Devon, Diana, Elena, Elliott, Eliza K., Elizabeth A. H., Elizabeth L., Elizabeth M., Emily G., Eric, Erik, Evans, Frank, Freddie, Gelasia, Grace, Greg, Henry, Hope, Hugh, Jack, Jackie, James, Janis, Jenne P., Jennifer A., Jennifer B., Jen K., Jennifer M., Jessica, Jill, Joe, John N., Jonathan D., Jon H., Joseph, Joshua Ke. Josh Kr., Joshua F., Kairo, Kasper, Kat P., Katlyn S., Keith, Kim H., Kim N., Kim O., Klaus, Kristina, Kyra, Lilian, Lindsay, Liz, Lynn, Mark S., Mark W., Marty, Mary B., Mary T., Maryrose, Matthew, Max, Melissa, Mike C., Michael K., Michelle P., Michelle R., Mitchell, Molly, Montana, Moriah, Nancy H., Nikki, Nina, Pamela, Patrick, Paul G., Paul M., Peter, Pranav, Quinton, Rebecca, Reka, Richard W., Richelle, Robert A., Rob F., Rob M., Rob S., Rose, Ryan, Sam, Sandra, Scott, Seth, Sierra, Sue, Susan, Thomas D., Thomas M., Tim, Tracy, Travis, Tricia, Troy, Valerie, Victoria, Wendy, William B., and William S.

Thank you so much to Dr. Tim Wilson, Dr. Wendy Anderson, Dr. Gary Mottola, Volusia for Justice, Our Revolution: Volusia, New Blue Florida, St. Johns for Bernie, Flagler for Bernie, The Hill of Roses, Florida for Bernie, the Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida, Progressives for Democracy in America: Central Florida Chapter, the National Solidarity Movement, Our Revolution: Florida, and the Make Room PAC for endorsing me. Thank you to Moms Demand Action and 90 for 90 for listing me as a Gun Sense Candidate and supporter of voting rights.

Thanks to Ambassador Nancy Soderberg, former congressman Alan Grayson, Volusia DEC Chair Jewel Dickson, Flagler DEC Chair Michael Cocchiola, St. Johns DEC Chair Nell Seymour Toensmann, and Lake County DEC Candidate Committee Chair Jane Hepting for encouragement, support, and advice.

Mr. Clint Curtis and I are scheduled to meet on Sunday, August 23, 2020 to discuss what we could do to support him as the Democratic nominee, including transferring our NGP VAN DNC VoteBuilder Florida license to his campaign. The 6th district heavily favors Republicans. We would like to see him run a strong campaign so that Rep. Waltz, a total Trump shill and partisan hack who doesn’t live in or know his district, has to expend resources defending his seat.

Sincerely,
Dr. Richard Thripp