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Winning Your Election the Wellstone Way

A Comprehensive Guide for Candidates and Campaign Workers

2008
Authors:

Jeff Blodgett, Bill Lofy, Ben Goldfarb, Erik Peterson, and Sujata Tejwani

Winning Your Election the Wellstone Way

Not politics as usual—advanced strategy for running and winning a progressive campaign

This companion guide to Politics the Wellstone Way, the best-selling introduction to political action, features the in-depth knowledge that campaigns need to take energy and engagement to the next level—getting elected. If you have ever considered volunteering for a political candidate, working for a campaign, or even running for public office yourself, Winning Your Election the Wellstone Way is the key resource you need to devise a sophisticated, progressive, and successful strategy and, ultimately, affect people’s lives for the better.

Winning Your Election the Wellstone Way provides a refreshing look at how to run an election in a grassroots people-powered way—just as the great Senator Paul Wellstone did—and win.

Representative Tim Walz (MN-01), Camp Wellstone alum

As the 2008 presidential race dominates political discussion and media coverage worldwide, thousands of lesser-known local contests are being hard-fought in our neighborhoods, cities, and states. Winning Your Election the Wellstone Way is based on the work of Wellstone Action, a leading-edge progressive training center that has instructed thousands of political activists, campaign managers, and volunteers, of whom more than two hundred have gone on to run for office and win. Jeff Blodgett and Bill Lofy analyze the crucial lessons learned from many successful (and several losing) campaigns and demystify what it takes to run for—and win—a political seat.

This companion guide to Politics the Wellstone Way, the best-selling introduction to political action, features the in-depth knowledge that campaigns need to take energy and engagement to the next level—getting elected. With detailed and informative examples from progressive campaigns at every level throughout the United States, Winning Your Election the Wellstone Way combines grassroots organizing with political strategy, articulating a bold populist agenda.
If you have ever considered volunteering for a political candidate, working for a campaign, or even running for public office yourself, Winning Your Election the Wellstone Way is the key resource you need to devise a sophisticated, progressive, and successful strategy and, ultimately, affect people’s lives for the better.

Winning Your Election the Wellstone Way

Jeff Blodgett is executive director of Wellstone Action and has twenty-five years of community organizing, issue advocacy, and political management experience. He spent thirteen years as a senior aide, adviser, and campaign manager to the late Senator Paul Wellstone, running all three of his election campaigns. Blodgett has worked on dozens of other election campaigns and issue advocacy efforts, including Amy Klobuchar’s successful election to the U.S. Senate in 2006.

Sujata Tejwani is a senior trainer for Wellstone Action’s national training programs with fifteen years of electoral and issue campaign experience in communications and management at the Congressional, senatorial and presidential levels, including for Senator Paul Wellstone (1996), the Democratic National Committee (1997–99), Maryanne Connelly for Congress (2000), Louis Lucas for Congress (2001), Senator Max Cleland (2002), Kerry/Edwards–Democratic National Committee (2004), Cover the Uninsured (2003, 2004, 2007), and Give Kids Good Schools (2006). She also develops and coordinates trainings for Democratic GAIN and EMILY’s List.

Erik Peterson is director of education and labor programs with Wellstone Action. He has more than twenty-five years experience in grassroots community, labor, and electoral organizing and twenty years as a trainer and teacher. He served as a field consultant on the 1996 and 2002 Wellstone for Senate campaigns and has helped build several labor-community-political coalitions, including the Duluth Living Wage Coalition and Duluth’s Community Religion Labor Network. Most recently he has served as the lead consultant for Mark Ritchie’s 2006 secretary of state race and as the northern Minnesota get-out-the-vote director for America Votes.


Bill Lofy is a senior trainer for Wellstone Action’s national training programs. In addition to working for Wellstone for six years as a press aide and campaign organizer, he has worked on campaigns at the local, state, and presidential levels, including managing the 2006 coordinated campaign for the Vermont Democratic Party and the 2000 Minnesota Bradley for President campaign. He is the editor of Politics the Wellstone Way: How to Elect Progressive Candidates and Win on Issues (Minnesota, 2005) and the author of Paul Wellstone: The Life of a Passionate Progressive.

Ben Goldfarb is director of training programs at Wellstone Action. In 2006, he was campaign manager for Senator Amy Klobuchar, and most recently he served as strategic research and communications consultant for the main opposition party in the 2007 Irish Parliamentary Elections. In 2004, he was the get-out-the-vote director for the Kerry-Edwards campaign in Minnesota. He also served as executive director of Progressive Minnesota, managed the Benanav for Saint Paul Mayor campaign in 2001, and helped lead a public employee union’s electoral program in 2002.

Winning Your Election the Wellstone Way

Winning Your Election the Wellstone Way provides a refreshing look at how to run an election in a grassroots people-powered way—just as the great Senator Paul Wellstone did—and win.

Representative Tim Walz (MN-01), Camp Wellstone alum

Paul Wellstone used populist politics and grassroots organizing to light a prairie fire that swept him into office despite the longest of odds. He knew what he believed and he knew how to win. His legendary formula for winning elections without compromising his values is contained in the pages of this book—a must read for progressives who want to win!

Jim Hightower

My friend Paul Wellstone believed in the politics of passion and bottom-up participation, and Wellstone Action continues his work by teaching his winning strategies to a new generation of progressives. Winning Your Election the Wellstone Way is an invaluable how-to handbook of the tools and tactics that Paul perfected. And it includes practical case studies from Paul's most trusted advisors that show you how to translate theory into practice in the heat of a campaign. This book is a superb source book for candidates as well as campaign managers and staff. I couldn't recommend this book more highly.

US Senator Tom Harkin

As a teacher, coach, and neighborhood activist, I didn’t spend my career planning to run for office—but I knew that I had the experience to lead my community in the Arizona Senate. Camp Wellstone gave me valuable skills that helped me run an organized, energizing campaign. Winning Your Election the Wellstone Way makes those skills available to progressive candidates and campaign managers throughout the country.

State Senator Paula Aboud, Tucson, Arizona

Once I made the decision to run for office, I felt like I had pointed my skis down a steep mountain: it was thrilling and challenging, and everything went very fast. Wellstone Action’s expertise and training gave me and my campaign the critical skills and confidence we needed to win. Winning Your Election the Wellstone Way is a must for emerging leaders who have decided to step up for their community and run for office.

Angelique Espinoza, elected to city council in Boulder, Colorado

I was fortunate to attend Camp Wellstone while preparing for my first campaign. Not only did I learn important skills that significantly contributed to my winning the election to the Raleigh city council, but I also created a valuable network of friends and politically active folks, and we continue to support each other. I often refer back to the lessons learned at Camp Wellstone. EVERYTHING they teach you is valuable—pay close attention to everything they say!

Rodger Koopman, elected to city council in Raleigh, North Carolina

A new generation of candidates has helped to shepherd in the rising progressive movement, but each of them needs a highly skilled campaign manager. Winning Your Election the Wellstone Way is a crucial reference tool for campaign managers on races big and small. Like Wellstone Action’s trainings, this book offers an opportunity to learn tried-and-true tactics from campaign veterans.

Nicholl Caruso, Wisconsin state director for Progressive Majority