Category Archives: Letters

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.

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.

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.

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

Letter to Blanca Ocasio-Cortez, January 6, 2020

One of the first things I did in my campaign as a progressive Democrat for Florida’s 6th Congressional district was to write a letter to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s mother, Blanca Ocasio-Cortez (BOC). She lives in my district, in Eustis, FL, and will hopefully vote for me in the August 18, 2020 primary and November 3, 2020 general election. She discussed her move from New York and AOC’s rise to power in her March 2019 interview with the Daily Mail.

I did not hear back, but it was worth a shot.

I did not anticipate 3 months later that we would be in a global pandemic hitting the USA especially hard due to unparalleled incompetence of our executive branch of government, or putting modern monetary theory to the test with many trillions of dollars of stimulus spending and giveaways to real estate moguls and profligate corporations.

Letter to BOC

January 6, 2020

Dear Ms. Blanca Ocasio-Cortez,

Alexandria is an inspiration to many young people such as myself to run for office! I’d like to meet you. I’m running for Congress in your district and am focused on the climate crisis, among other issues that align with Democratic socialism. I’ve included an essay on how I woke up to become a Democrat and other information on my background and positions. I’m a husband, father to a 10-month-old boy, and teacher educator at University of Central Florida. I’m 28 years old as Alexandria was when she ran.

Although I am an unknown candidate, I have already received hate mail for supporting the Green New Deal, along with plenty of other derogatory messages, often completely devoid of facts. I can only imagine what your daughter goes through on a daily basis with her high profile and being a target of hatred for the alt-right.

I think 2020 is a critical year—even more than 2016. I read an article recently saying that if Trump wins another term, he will become even more deranged and dangerous. I have been meeting with local Democrats, who know that Florida is key, which is why Trump held his campaign launch here in Orlando and recently domiciled here. I am not just running for U.S. House, but also for whomever the Democratic nominee for president is.

My wife Kristy, I, and our son will also be visiting Washington, D.C. from February 2–7, 2020. I have never been before. We would love to meet Alexandria if she has the time. Congress is in session this week.

I just got off the phone with Nancy Soderberg, the 2018 Democratic candidate for our district. She raised $7 million (compared to my $0), but it wasn’t enough to win in a district that leans 7 percentage points Republican (but, the 6th is among the better Florida districts to run in!). Republican Trump toady Michael Waltz presently has no serious Democratic challenger except myself. People have given up, but it is exactly the wrong time to give up.

I look forward to hearing from you,
Richard Thripp, Ph.D.
Democratic Candidate for U.S. Congress (FL-06)
Adjunct Faculty, University of Central Florida

I recommend reducing Florida ballot access fees from $10,440 to $3,480 for Congressional candidates and $1,782 to $594 for state legislature candidates, costing $1.52 million—FAR less than 0.3% of Florida’s recent $543 million giveaway to big businesses

I wrote this email on April 8, 2020 to other Congressional candidates as well as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of State’s Division of Elections.

Hello fellow candidates,

I am in complete agreement with you.

This is a completely nonpartisan issue.

Florida’s fee of $10,440 for major party candidates to run for Congress is insane.

The petition requirements are also very steep, ranging from 3,749 to 5,772 petitions depending on the district. There are 171 part-affiliated Congressional candidates listed on the Division of Elections website (as well as one write-in candidate who does not have to collect petitions or pay a fee). As of April 8, 2020, only NINE of them qualified by acquiring voter petitions: Donna Deegan (Democrat, CD4), Bill Posey (Republican, CD8), Dana Cottrell (Democrat, CD11), Daniel Webster (Republican, CD11), Gus Michael Bilirakis (Republican, CD12), Margaret Good (Democrat, CD16), Brian Mast (Republican, CD18), Ted Deutch (Democrat, CD22), and Mario Diaz-Balart (Republican, CD25).

The steepness of either method ($10,440 fee or petitions) is true even when there isn’t a highly contagious, dangerous pandemic impacting Florida. Now, I believe it truly is unlawful and the requirements should immediately be reduced quite drastically. I would recommend a 70% reduction in petition requirements for all candidates (federal and state/local) and an elimination of state assessment fees. Keep the party assessment fees if you’d like, which would be $3,480 for Congressional candidates, but waive the $6,960 of state fees.

Although I was able to pony up the $10,440 fee to get on the ballot, this just isn’t fair to most candidates. To be quite honest, it’s most advantageous to wealthy, well-connected candidates, including incumbents, who get multiple $2,800 campaign contributions from wealth individuals and $5,000 or $10,000 per PAC.

Recently, Governor Ron DeSantis proceeded with issuing $543.2 million of unnecessary tax giveaways to large Florida corporations. These giveaways are going to big businesses, not small businesses. For the 162 Congressional candidates who did not qualify by petition method, waiving $6,960 of fees would be a loss of $1,127,520 of state revenue. That’s only 0.2% of the amount of the recent taxpayer-funded corporate tax giveaway bonanza. In fact, it would be even less, because not all candidates who have filed will qualify.

If we add on approximately 330 candidates for the state legislature, waiving $1,187.88 of state fees for all of these candidates would cost no more than $392,000, and in fact less because a bigger percentage of these candidates will qualify by petition.

I think the State of Florida, which recently gave away $543.2 million to big businesses, can easily afford to forgo $1.52 million of revenue on ballot access fees.

Dr. Richard Thripp
Progressive Democrat for U.S. Congress (#FL6)

Updated 4/09/2020: I corrected the fact that there are 9 federal candidates who qualified by petition, not 3 as I had previously heard from a fellow candidate in an email.