Friday, November 14, 2014

The Official "'End-of-Cycle' Thank You Blog"

As time goes by and I keep searching for some way to sum up everything that was involved in our 2 year campaign, I find the process gets more, not less, daunting as the days go by. Today is the 10 day mark since the election and we are still swamped w the massive tasks of putting away the past and building a brand new future.
More than most any other congressional candidate this cycle and probably this century, my campaign was handmade, by myself and by volunteers and supporters like you. We had no paid staff and usually little money. THX so much to all of you who helped w that. But money was not the issue and neither were our chances of election. While the press may have belittled my faith in the effort and not in the odds, I know that you know the reality of the district and the need to build.
& build we did.
Progressive Arizonans and Democrats around the country began a process that will create a powerful networked Democratic Party in AZ-04. Our progress was true. The Democratic successes in urban AZ can be accomplished in rural AZ when we invest the time and energy. In a year where Democrats across the nation, and especially AZ Dems, faced  a massive Republican backlash, our campaign still garnered 45,000 votes and outpolled any other Mohave County based candidate despite a fraction of the funding. Our campaign helped coordinate Dem efforts elsewhere as well and remained a significant component in the campaigns of Fred DuVal, Jim Holway, both LD5 candidates, LD1’s Frank Cuccia, LD13’s Terri Woodmansee & LD16’s Scott & Cara Prior. In addition to distributing more than 15,000 pieces of my own campaign literature this cycle, our campaign personally distributed nearly 5,000 pieces of statewide campaign lit in LD5 alone, in addition to our work for local candidates in Prescott, Kingman and Bullhead City. We helped create PCs in 3 different LDs around the state and began the important work of cross-pollinating the various rural parties.
In the short term, though already obviously tragic, the GOP backlash Democrats faced nationwide was inevitable and in keeping w their “governing” strategies: destroy all Dems at all costs. But since their only solution to any problem is to cut spending, their days of holding public support are numbered. So our campaign will keep working to push forward to that day. For me, 2016 began at 7:01pm 11/4/14.
We have come an incredibly long way and still have an incredibly long way to go, but remember: life is nothing except the fight and the moments of regret when we wish we were fighting. Our love of country has brought us together, our love of humanity; so our work will never be done.
And isn’t that the joy of it?
THX you for coming w me this far. Let’s keep going—


mikel 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

PRESS RELEASE: Congressional Candidate Taps AJ Resident to Coordinate Nationwide Phone Bank

For Immediate Release
Date: 10/28/14—
Congressional Candidate Taps AJ Resident to Coordinate Nationwide Phone Bank


Apache Junction, AZ – Heading into the final phase of the campaign, upstart progressive Democratic Congressional candidate Mikel Weisser has called on Apache Junction activist, Barbara Njos, to coordinate his national phone bank program.  Weisser, the Democratic populist Kingman area activist recently earned an endorsement from the Progressive Democrats of America (commonly referred to as PDA) for his challenge in Arizona’s 4th Congressional seat. 

It was an honor uncommon for a tiny grassroots campaign such as Weisser’s and it came with a huge challenge when it came to creating an outreach program for a district of 700,000 people spread over seven counties and forty thousand square miles. “It’s Yuma to Utah, Parker to Payson, the central highlands and all the area around Phoenix where the people aren’t,” Weisser laughs.  With major cities in the district, such as Bullhead City and Florence being as much as 300 miles apart, the logistics of effectively reaching all the corners of the district required a phone calling operations of epic scale.

Enter PDA’s phone-banking dynamo, Apache Junction’s own Barbara Njos (pronounced “Naws”).  A longtime local activist and leader in the national organization of PDA, Barbara has logged in thousands of calls over the years. Working not only for PDA and the state party, but Njos also is a leader in the Apache Junction’s contingent of the Pinal County Democratic Party and has made phone calls for every one of those groups. “Phone banking is a key part of any political campaign,” Njos explained, “It gets the message out directly to voters. It connects you to people.” 

A member of the Arizona Democratic Party’s executive board, Njos has been in the leadership of many of the state’s party’s progressive groups over the past two decades including Citizens for a Better Arizona, the End the War Coalition, Progressive Democrats of America, United for Change, Habitat for Humanity, and the international women’s peace & economic justice activist group Code Pink. “Mikel and I first met in 2007 in DC at a Code Pink protest against the Iraq War. Since that first meeting we have become good friends. We share values that support the middle class and want life liberty and the pursuit of happiness to actually be something our country aspires to once more.”

Weisser was thrilled to get the chance to develop his relationship with Njos. “Barb is a mentor and a hero to me and a generation of AZ activists. PDA is the national leader of the progressive movement and I have been a proud member,willing to come the 400 mile round trip to join their events; but I never expected to rise to a position of leadership, much less being an endorsed candidate.” When Weisser originally started developing his 2014 campaign, Njos provided a base in the Apache Junction end of the district. With a budget that was a fraction of a typical congressional campaign, the PDA endorsement came as a blessing and a challenge. “PDA was willing to use their resources to help us create massive phone bank, as big as we wanted; but it was up to us to run it. Thank god for Barbara.”

Juggling her various phone commitments along w her other activist work, has been rewarding for Barb. “Every time I connect to someone who may not have been in agreement with me but we can reach one, it’s a victory. I learn a lot.” With volunteers scattered from Oregon to Florida, many who will never meet each other, the logistics are sometimes hard to work out, but Njos appreciates the challenge. “Leading the phone banking for Mikel has allowed me to take his message to more people and give them the opportunity to understand his work can help all Arizonans.­­­­­­­­­­­­­­"

This round of phone banking may end the night of the election, but the Mikel Weisser campaign has already committed to a run for the 2016 cycle. “I may not be the guy who dethrones Gosar, but I am not stopping till he is out of office.” Njos has also committed to the challenge for the foreseeable future. “We need to return our country to the vision that the founding fathers had.”

For more on the Mikel Weisser for US Congress Campaign:

For further information contact:

Mikel Weisser
4490 Sundown Drive
So-Hi, AZ 86413
928-234-5633
Paid for by the Mikel Weisser for US Congress campaign



Monday, October 27, 2014

My Guest Blog for Howie Klein & Blue America

I never guessed that when I stumbled into politics I would ever get to speak w a figure like Howie Klein. A creator of our culture as a music promoter, political columnist/activist and now the founder of Blue America, Klein is proof positive that the artist can and continues to change the world.

After being encouraged to approach him from my state party executive director, DJ Quinlan, Klein and I talked about my race and their program and though it was too late for them to add me to their slate for the 2014 cycle, we are discussing the 2016 cycle and he asked me to write a guest blog, a quick little pitch to their readership. Some of this was developed based on Rob Kall's transcript of my recent Op-Ed News interview. I don't know if he'll end up running it, but I know I am happy w what I've said.




Howdy, my name is Mikel Weisser. I am the Democratic candidate for US House in AZ’s 4th Congressional District, the rugged-est, reddest, most redneck part of America’s reddest state, Arizona. I’m a native Texan, a former teen runaway, former ditch-digger, homeless vet, and junior high social studies teacher. I grew up in a small town near the border of Mexico. About 15 yrs ago I moved to AZ from Illinois por que yo hablo poquito espanol. I share my humble beginnings because I believe the beauty of the American Dream is that a man can remake himself and make a better world if he tries.

I also believe for many, many people, this pitch is coming so late in the cycle, you think it’s a joke. “Hey, look at me way out in AZ demanding your attention, gimme all your money and your time!” Sure. I understand. But here in this last minute, I am doing exactly that, asking you to think about Arizona & my campaign. Let me tell you why.

You should know, from the first, I am a tremendously outmatched underdog. The GOP literally has double the number of registered voters, a 30 yr dynasty, and lots of Bubbas who like being bullies out here … and that none of that scares me a bit. My opponent Paul Gosar (AZ-04) is a Tea Party incumbent talking head willing to wreck the whole country to score political points.

He’s the kind of guy who would travel to Cliven Bundy’s ranch to do a photo op – to hug it out with him, to show support for the Bundy agenda, conservative values agenda--a mouthpiece, an echo chamber for every tea party-right wing-fundamentalist talking point that’s come through the news stream. He voted against the ACA 54 times; voted against protection of women against domestic violence; voted against minimum wage; voted to shut down the government twice; voted to impeach Holder/censure Holder; calls for the impeachment of Obama, on and on and on and on ad naseum. Half the words in half of his speeches are “Benghazi,” the other half are “IRS.” He’s that kind of guy.

I’m the kind of guy who left my careers as a teacher & slam poet/arts organizer to devote my full time efforts to changing America using the political process. I’m the kind of guy who is leading AZ’s cannabis reform movement by building the greenest possible grassroots coalition, who plays my own guitar on the protest songs at our rallies, who hand-paints his own signs and does his own lit-drop, who travels the state to promote issues like LGBT rights, the performing arts, immigration and education in a rickety old van with more than 200,000 miles on it, who is not afraid to sleep on the floor sometimes if that’s what it takes … and who has developed the faith of a network of dozens of devoted, inspired and inspiring volunteers around the state who feed me, house me, make zillions of phone calls on my behalf and are dedicated to making my campaign about making a difference, not politics as usual.

I know, it sounds great, but why care about my song and dance w 434 other federal races to watch? Well, I could go on about how unusual, how bold, how intriguing and how much fun our approach is. I could tell you Wild Bunch Media’s Jennifer Smith has called my race “the most amazing human interest story in congressional politics,” but if you just click the links below, you can decide on that for yourself.

I could tell you about the endorsements I’ve gained from PDA’s national office, DFA’s AZ chapter, Stonewall Democrats of AZ, Congressman Raul Grijalva, Brave New Films, and over a dozen other AZ legislators and leaders. And now, Howie Klein has given me this chance as well. Here’s the secret truth of why my race is important: I’m not just trying to win an election, I’m trying to change the world and it so happens in AZ in this election cycle, my loud mouthed idealist campaign could be the final push it takes to drive several of our statewide candidates over the top. If I and the legislative candidates that I’m working with and the state party efforts come together the way we want, we can affect the outcome of some really critical state elections. 

Right now, 2014 cycle, Arizonans are electing their governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Treasurer, the education guy, the corporation commission people. In 2012 we didn’t win any statewide races; but after two years of working all those races are competitive. In my primary two months ago, there was a shift of 23,000 votes away from the GOP towards me and there was only 85,000 votes cast. He still has the lead, but it’s closer and it’s close enough where it can start to matter for our statewide candidates – Fred DuVal is running for Governor; and Felecia Rotellini running for Attorney General, Terry Goddard running for Secretary of State. These races are close enough so a strong rural turnout, along with what we already have going in the urban districts, can change the outcome of the statewide race.

In 2006, we won the governorship in a state that’s predominantly re­publican. Janet Napolitano was expected to be defeated; but the rural parties turned it around. Whether or not it’s about Mikel Weisser becoming congressman, it’s definitely about getting some progressive values in a state that’s famous for being racist and redneck and anti-progressives.

So there it is--a numbers game, a quirky chance to play a percentage and maybe upset the GOP’s whole elephant parade. If you choose to get involved, there are a lot of ways to get involved: 1st and foremost, go to my website, browse around the You Tube channel and look before you act. I may be too wild for you, seriously. If not: share, share, share, click, like, retweet—especially w your maven friends, especially w folks in media. We are earning our media. 2) If you’ve ever volunteered on a PDA virtual phone bank or want the experience and can invest two hours, we’d love to have you. 3) If you want to give me money, use Act Blue, hundreds already have and we could really use it. In fact we need money as much, if not more, than any of those folks who’ll blitz your inbox every day and beg and plead. I didn’t come here to beg and plead, only to change the world.

Favorite Candidate Profile:
“Weisser: Running for office worth the risk”
Most Famous Candidate Profile:
“Dabber in the House? Yes, if AZ's CD4 Voters Elect Democrat Mikel Weisser”
(On my cannabis reform work)

Facing Down the GOP Bullies:
“Telling the Right They’re Wrong!” 2014 style (You Tube Video):
“Telling the Right They’re Wrong!” 2012 (same audience):

Also:
Safer AZ site: http://saferarizona.com/

*       
Don’t hesitate to contact me.
THX again,
mikel
Mikel Weisser
928-234-5633
4490 Sundown Dr
So-Hi, AZ 86413

Paid for by Mikel Weisser for US Congress


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Safer AZ Cannabis Reform Status Report 9/30/14




After pulling our 2014 cannabis illegalization initiative in June of 2014, Safer AZ’s legislative liaison & board member, Mikel Weisser, assumed control of the group to direct our energies for the upcoming 2016 initiative campaign that was being brought to AZ by MPP.
Through the summer, at the behest of the Safer AZ board, Weisser developed the relationship w leaders in MPP and the ADA to better keep track of their actions and to insert Safer AZ into the decision making process of those “officially shaping” the upcoming campaign for AZ cannabis rights.
When MPP’s representative Neal Levine, first came to assess the situation in June, Safer AZ was one of their meetings. When MPP returned on Aug. 27th to commence their campaign, Safer AZ was one of the key meetings they held that day (all and all our rep. attended 5 hours of meetings w MPP: an hour long direct conference, a two-hour shared conference and attending a two hour public presentation).
Safer AZ’s stated intentions are thus: 1) Serve as a representative for the larger cannabis community in the campaign and initiative process; 2) Shape the language of the upcoming initiative to make it as consumer friendly as possible; 3) establish a profession relationship between the AZ campaign committee and Safer AZ , wherein Safer AZ can be an active partner w the campaign (thus guaranteeing our interests are protected); 4) Develop our own fundraising arm to afford better operations and provide services to the campaign including a) activist outreach, b) campaign fundraising assistance, c) public education events, d) legislative advocacy, e) qualified petition gathering, & f) community messaging and guidance.
National MPP has consistently responded favorably to our efforts and provided encouragement that we are pursuing a shared agenda; and so, despite outcry from the under-informed public, Safer AZ has continued to develop this relationship, principally w Sarah Hollyhead, the MPP development rep. Once the AZ based campaign committee was formed, Safer AZ reached out to their officers, Ryan Hurley and Gina Bermen and had lengthy meetings Thursday, Sept. 25. Again the local MPP committee reassured Safer AZ that our stated initiative objectives--various legal and anti-discriminatory protections for cannabis users, limited personal grow, protected status for mmj patients, and reasonably unrestricted market access to licensing for newer and smaller cannabis operators—are part of their vision of the legislation they hope to create. A representative from R.A.M.M.P. (Registry of AZ Medical Marijuan Patients) has independently verified that their impression of the goals of the new AZMPP organization are in keeping w our stated objectives. AZMPP did make suggestions to Safer AZ as to ways we can help advance the overall project.

In specific, AZ MPP asked Safer to develop these objectives: 1) Review and upgrade our existing data base so we can use it as a tool in our work in the upcoming campaign; 2) Begin marketing our tee-shirts to smoke shops and dispensaries to advance our messaging; 3) Attend the upcoming AZ MPP fundraiser (our table would cost $1000); 4) Increase our efforts to public outreach; 5) Overcome our own oh-so-very-public in-fighting that damages our credibility. Both Hurley and Bermen re-emphasized appreciation of our work so far and a desire to work w us in the future. Towards that end, the AZMPP committee has sent me an invitation to their fundraiser kick-off event which I have forwarded to my board for approval.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Dear Supporters:

(Thank you again for all your faith in my work. It is your energy that pushes this campaign forward.)

I often talk to people about this congressional campaign as a tactic for an even larger, even more urgent social transformation America must have if we are to survive this century. National attitudes about equality, opportunity, education, foreign relations, the environment and the economy have got to change. If you have followed our campaign, you know I also believe another key tactic in that movement is the legalization of marijuana.
While it is not my only issue, my cannabis activism has often been at the center of my image in the public. This week one of AZ’s most respected writers, Ray Stern, wrote a feature on my work in AZ’s alt-weekly of record, the PHX New Times. The profile focused on my bold marijuana positions, yes, but also on the other main issues in my campaign and my efforts for progressive values in general. One of the main themes is that marijuana is not the motivation sapping debilitating devil the Right want paint.
“Weisser, who was attending the Arizona Leadership Forum at the Phoenix Convention Center, didn't seem impaired or on anything stronger than a cup of coffee. He says he doesn't "have the leisure time" to sit around smoking pot all day long, and on a typical day he's out from 8 a.m. to midnight meeting people and groups in District 4. We can vouch for the fact.”
Standing up for marijuana users is the same as standing up for education: “I want to have limits on class size, and I want to get Howard Zinn back in the classroom," Weisser says … wearing a Howard Zinn button on his lapel.”
Or sane immigration policies: "The whole world is teeming with refugees right now, and America's xenophobic approach is to say, 'build the damn fence.'"
Or a humane approach to affording America’s future: “If only the government stopped corporations from keeping trillions of dollars in profit parked in offshore accounts where they can't be taxed, the United States would have the resources to pay for services needed.”
Now, if these values are the kinds of things you want to see advanced, I ask you to join your cause w mine. We can make a difference. We ARE making a difference now:
Learn more about the campaign:
“Telling the Right They’re Wrong!” 2014 style (You Tube Video):
“Telling the Right They’re Wrong!” 2012 (same audience):

Safer AZ site: http://saferarizona.com/



Paid for by the Mikel Weisser for US Congress campaign

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Weisser to Deliver Opening Remarks at 2014 Individual World Poetry Slam Championships in PHX

OMG, my tremendous good fortune, was to meet Aaron Johnson in 2008 and have him change my AZ life forever. At that point I was a busy happy local poet in the Kingman/Bullhead City area, but he asked me to start performing in the larger AZ circuit and the courage and skills I developed from growing to become a touring poet are at the heart of who I have become as a political figure. Somehow the courage to combine poetry and politics has given this small town rube a tremendous nearly impossible opportunity: I have been asked to give the opening remarks to the world's most elite poetry slam competition. To remember where I started as a scared little scribbler at 14 and decided I would commit to being a poet, no matter what that meant; to see where that faith has brought me--oh my, oh my.

Now this speech won't be delivered until Oct. 8 at the opening ceremonies.

PLEASE CONTACT LAWN GNOME BOOKS for details on iWPS:
  1. Address: 905 N 5th St, Phoenix, AZ 85004

Opening Remarks 2014 iWPS

Poets, bless you. Thank you for coming to save us. My name is Mikel Weisser and it is one of the great honors in my lifetime to be on hand to welcome the world’s finest poets to AZ, to PHX in fact, for this year’s Individual World Poetry Slam championship!
As a poet who has somehow managed to become the democratic candidate for US House of Representatives in Arizona’s Fourth Congressional District, I live my life in the shadow of the famous quote by Shelley about poets being the unacknowledged legislators of the world.
While I do not know if that phrase characterizes the soul of every wordsmith who ever mangled sentence structure so “moon” and “June” could spoon, I do believe that the assembled talent here this weekend, take their mandate quite seriously: if you are going to open your mouth to fill our minds, it better be about something. I am, to say again, humbled to merely be this close to so many legends, so many great entertainers, so many passionate activists. This weekend, Phoenix will hear if we hear the pulse of the universe in the tones our poets bring out. Phoenix let me warn you: it may not be pretty.
Poets, more than many other public bloviators, tend to remember we have an obligation to enlighten and entertain and, in the process, it’s the ugly we exactly need to hear. People don’t always want to allow the ugly to be seen. Sometimes we want to think that poetry is nothing more than window dressing: comparing your lovely to a summer’s day, instead of simply saying she’s hot. And, yes, there’s times when it’s true that’s all poetry needs to be. But these are the worst of times and the best of times and we have seen the best minds of multiple generations dragged through the disasters of human folly and the whole thing made worse, because no one would address the ugly. We can’t change the ugly truths of life by ignoring them, by disguising ourselves and our emotions. We aren’t chameleons, we’re just humans and luckily us all it is the poets that remember this.
Just to be sure we all understand, I’m not just rattling my jaw because I fell off the donkey truck near a place where there’s free food (there’s food right?) I have a Masters in English from the University of Illinois at Springfield and an M Ed in Secondary Ed from NAU and been performing, publishing, and promoting poetry for about 20yrs after writing in my closet for 20yrs before that and I can tell you, based on that considerable experience, there is a whole lot of ugly the world needs to hear about.
There is a tremendous sense of urgency, corruption does not have a curfew. The poor don’t stop starving just because no one hears about it and our childhoods are always being reborn or destroyed anew w every new moment, at least sometimes there’s a poet there to catch us. Poets are willing to reach down deep in their hearts and write w their blood on the page, maybe to satisfy us, mostly to be lost in the din between the stage and where we stand, mere players. But sometimes, pretty or no, the moons align, the thunder cracks and the words of the poet bring light to the darkness of insanity. And whether we think it’s pretty or whether we think it ugly, it’s the poets’ truth that sets us free.
Let us go then, past the question of “Do I dare?”And let these games begin. Ladies and gentlemen of PHX, it is my honor and privilege to be here today, to be in earshot as the greatest poets of the world speak. Thank you for welcoming them, and thank you poets for coming, with your husky brawling voices and your big shoulders to carry the weight of the world. Thank you Aaron Johnson for bringing us all here today.  Thank you for bringing pretty and ugly and everything beautiful. Thank you for letting me listen.