Showdown for Senate: Pete Ashdown Challenges Orrin Hatch … Will He Become Utah’s Next Senator Elect?

Posted September 4, 2006 in
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Pete Ashdown (courtesy of

The state of the nation is very grave as our “president” continues behaving like a buffoon. Senator Orrin Hatch (R Utah) pretends to oppose the child president on issues such as stem cell research while behaving like a buffoon himself and sponsoring or supporting senseless constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage and flag burning. Who really cares about same-sex marriage? I don’t and I believe the vast majority who do are expecting “The Rapture” to intervene anyway. Who cares about flag burning? Doesn’t flag etiquette require burning a worn-out flag?

The nation faces issues more important than same-sex marriage or flag burning. The federal minimum wage hasn’t seen an increase since 1997 while the actual purchasing power of the minimum wage is at it’s lowest point in 51 years. Worker productivity increases year after year, corporations report record profits and the executives receive record compensation but the workers responsible are falling farther behind or disappearing to first Mexico and now China. The gap between rich and poor is greater each year and the middle class is nearly nonexistent. There are more and more Americans working without health insurance. There are more and more hungry children and more and more homeless people on the streets. The child president cuts spending on domestic programs while spending billions on defense programs that don’t protect America at the same time he promotes tax cuts for the rich. The state of the nation is very grave. Senator Hatch supports virtually every Bush decision and it’s time for him to go.

Pete Ashdown is hoping to end the reign of Senator Orrin Hatch. Although this election arrives during the Presidential mid-term; we have no hope for regime change at this time, replacing Orrin with Pete is a good start.

I don’t trust Republicans or Democrats. Like so many Americans I believe both parties are corrupt. My beliefs are strengthened when I read books such as “The Long Emergency” by James Howard Kunstler, “What’s the Matter With Kansas” by Thomas Frank, “The Great Unraveling” by Paul Krugman and “Hostile Takeover” by David Sirota. Of course there’s also the “Wal-Mart Effect” (importing 80 percent of non-food merchandise from China), a topic Pete Ashdown touched on in a way, but when I sat down to talk with Ashdown in the penthouse of his campaign headquarters, the Pleasure Palace, I was an undecided voter. I wanted him to convince me to vote for him. SLUG: “I want you to convince me to vote for you because I’m not convinced.” PA: You’re not convinced yet? Alright.”
SLUG: “Yeah, that’s what I want you to do but I do have some questions. The first thing I want to know is: Huntsman likes to think he’s a rocker and he rocks with Styx and Kansas while Orrin Hatch is in with Janice Kapp Perry. So, do you have any musical ambitions?” PA: “Sadly I’ve left those behind. I used to DJ in the early 90s and that’s the extent of my musical experience. Around the mid-90s I looked at all the equipment on the floor of my basement and threw it on ebay. I moved on. I still hold an interest in that kind of music but I haven’t DJed since 1995. According to the biography posted on his Senate campaign website,, Ashdown was an early Salt Lake City rave promoter. He grew disenchanted with the “scene” when the “drug culture” moved in.

Pete Ashdown is the founder and CEO of XMission, the first independent and oldest Internet service provider in Utah. XMission is responsible for the wireless Internet hot spots all over town. The most recent additions are at the Salt Lake City Bike Collective shop and Liberty Park. All of the Salt Lake City Public Libraries have XMission wireless. How did all of this come about? PA: “It was a city thing. We approached the library system individually of the county or the city. That’s probably why you get different results at that one because that’s using the first round of equipment that we deployed for wireless, different than what we’re deploying now. It could probably use an update. It has no relation to the county. (I’d asked why the wireless in the Salt Lake County Libraries is not as fast or reliable as the service in the Salt Lake City Libraries.) What the city asked us to do was Main Street, Pioneer Park and Liberty Park. Liberty Park is just coming on line. We used the latest equipment on all of them. That works a lot better than what we’ve got in the library. The library system is about five years old now. Actually that was 2002 when we put that in so it’s about four years old right now. The way I approached that was; the library had a problem doing wireless because they were concerned about somebody using it outside the building and doing something untoward with it. They have the ability to, if somebody’s looking at something that might be considered obscene inside the library, they have the ability to go tell them to knock it off because they are using their computers. With the wireless they don’t have that ability if somebody takes a laptop and goes outside. They wanted to distance themselves legally from that issue. That’s where we came in. We don’t get any money from the city or the library or the county to do those deployments. We do it all on our dime. The way I look at it is: everybody that signs up to use that wireless gets a page about XMission at the beginning. If you’re an XMission subscriber you get a little bit more permission on what you can do.”

Ashdown told me that wi-fiing Main Street cost about the same as a newspaper ad. Other cities around the country are planning to spend millions and Ashdown finds that sort of curious. Other cities are also trying to bring wi-fi to every single household and street corner. Ashdown doesn’t believe that’s possible right now. Technology is his baby and so I targeted the strength for another question.

SLUG: “Sticking with technology and the internet. A Senator yesterday, and I can’t remember his name right now, but he said that the Internet runs on a series of tubes. Did you see that quote?”
PA: “Ted Stevens? (Ted Stevens also claimed that he downloaded an entire Internet in three days. I guess he’s like GWB. He believes in the multiple Internet principle.) I think what you are talking about is ‘net neutrality.’ The primary concern I have with Congress getting involved with net neutrality is that people like Stevens are making the decisions. It’s a little like going in for surgery and expecting someone who has gone to pharmacy school to do the operation on you. I have very little respect for anyone in the Senate or the House of Representatives as far as technology and Internet and computer issues go. I get really suspicious when they start to draft laws. People approach the net neutrality issue and say it’s the First Amendment of the Internet, that everything should be free and open. Put your hand on your heart and that feels really good. Of course we should keep everything free and open so everyone can have their say, but there are areas in managing an Internet Service Provider (ISP) where I do need to block traffic. I do need to block traffic if someone is attacking my network. I do try to block traffic as far as spammers go. If people are continually spamming my network then it makes sense for me to stop them from having access to my network because all they’re doing is damaging my network and annoying my customers. We do have situations where we have customers who want to receive the spam and we give them that option, but for the congress to come in and say, ‘this is what’s good traffic and this is what’s bad traffic and this is what you have to do,’ I think is a real dangerous proposal because they don’t know the intricacies of what’s going on. That’s the fundamental reason I’m running, because we look at technology…Technology is legislated more and more in our Congress and there’s nobody back there that has a fundamental understanding. They’re relying on Hollywood and telephone companies and very moneyed interests to give them their side of the story whereas small Internet service providers, independent groups that have no money to voice their opinion to Congress are left out in the cold. We’ve seen this with copyright legislation over the past five years and we’re seeing it now with broader issues like net neutrality. I prefer that Congress keep their hand out of the specifics on the technical side. One thing I am advocating on that issue is; if you’re selling Internet, the term “Internet” should be defined by the FCC to be ‘an open network to other networks.’ If you decide to block another network for political reasons, like AOL blocking Move On letters about their selling email addresses to spammers, then you’re not selling Internet anymore. You’re selling private network services. If people realize what they’re buying is truly Internet and the people selling it are only able to use that term if they are keeping things open politically, then I think the market decides.”

SLUG: “Minimum wage. You’re a business owner. You might have some thoughts on the minimum wage. The minimum wage hasn’t been raised in, I think, 12 years.”
PA: “It is a problem. When I started XMission I came from a job where I was making just a little over minimum wage. I think I was making about $6.15 an hour. It wasn’t until about a year and a half into running my business that I was able to leave that job and start paying myself a salary to offset my first position. About the same time, this was early in 1995, I needed to start hiring employees. The first year and a half of XMission was pretty much me; doing the accounting, the programming, customer support, everything involved with the business. I was doing it all. In early 1995 I decided to start hiring employees and I set my entry-level wage at $7 per hour with benefits, dental, health and 401K, if you wanted to be involved with that. I set it at $7 per hour because I had come from a single student situation where I was making less than that and I was paying into my health benefits. I wasn’t able to make it. I had to get my dad to subsidize me. Over the years it’s gone up and today it’s $11 an hour for someone to start working at XMission. Again with benefits and all the other things that come with it. I look at efforts to raise the minimum wage to $7 an hour, $7.25 an hour, as something that will not penalize responsible businesses. The majority of small businesses out there are acting responsibly and paying their employees what they are worth because they realize that comes back to them as far as satisfied customers. If your employees are worried about their health care or unable to make ends meet they’re not going to be very happy doing that job. I view this problem as more of an issue for the large, profitable companies that are paying multi-million dollar salaries to their executives and still paying minimum wage and still trying to avoid paying benefits because when you are paying someone minimum wage and you are not giving them health care, they’re getting health care from the state and they are making ends meet by getting services from the state and that’s taxes from my pocket. The responsible businesses are not only paying for their own employees they’re paying for the irresponsible businesses’ employees. I view increasing the minimum wage as something that should be done on a yearly basis, indexed to inflation. I think the irony here is that Congressional salaries already do that. They got so tired of being berated for raising their own salaries that they made it automatic. It’s not indexed to inflation, it’s three percent a year automatically. I made the pledge that unless there’s no deficit, unless the budget is balanced and we are out of debt, I would turn down the raise year after year after year because if any group of people deserve to make minimum wage it’s the people in Washington right now. They’re doing such a lousy job of managing the budget.”

At this point I asked Ashdown for greater detail on health care and executive salaries. SLUG: “I think what’s changing about health care in America is it’s becoming an economic issue. I have tried to absorb my employees’ health care costs over the past decade and when I see premiums rise and benefits go down and it continues to get worse rather than better. For somebody like a Delta or a GM health care costs are a much bigger problem for them. GM has stated that health care costs are the number one reason they’re moving plants across the river from Detroit to Ontario, Canada. In Detroit it costs something like $6,500 per year per employee. In Ontario it’s $800 a year. We’re seeing an economic problem with health care insurance in the United States. My economic philosophy is that if the free market is not meeting it’s demands and it’s not doing it economically then there’s a role for government to come in and make adjustments or eliminate the situation all together. We have two choices for health care insurance in Utah. That’s not a robust competition. I hear stories of overheads upwards of 40 percent. I hear stories about executive parachutes in the hundreds of millions and that, in my opinion, should not be going on in health care. This is something that is essential to everyone’s needs and to be benefiting off of it with golden parachutes and extreme profits in shareholder stock and all that business, I think, is immoral. I would go one step short of a national system in saying we do need a highly regulated, transparent, non-profit, non-government entity providing health care insurance to all of the United States. It should cover not only people that pay into the system, like small businesses and individuals, but it should use the money saved from reducing the overhead to covering the uninsured. One of the things I heard on the campaign trail is that people want to start businesses, they want to leave their companies and go start something independent but health care is what’s holding them back. This is a problem that can be resolved, I believe, it just requires some political courage to do it.

On the issue of executive salaries? With companies like the airlines getting bailouts and the executives still pulling down those kind of salaries, they are essentially stealing taxpayer dollars to subsidize their own situation, their private salaries. I think that is something that is unconscionable. If a company is paying their entry-level workers well and everyone in the company is taken care of then I think the executives should be rewarded as well. But, if the people on the low end are not making ends meet so the person on the upper end is being supported then I think that’s theft, plain and simple. They’re stealing not only people’s livelihoods they’re stealing their time. I would like to see a stronger hand taken in those cases. What is interesting to me about the Republican versus the Democrat philosophy is that the Republicans are for deregulation of business and regulation of the individual. With the Democrats I think it’s the other way around. I try to take a more balanced approach in that I do believe there are areas where government should keep their hands out if it’s robust and competitive and level, like the Internet. If the playing field starts to tilt or there are monopolies in place or people are taking advantage of governmental situations, for example the oil companies getting tax credits. There’s no greater abuse of tax credits that I can think of than oil companies getting tax credits to go out and expand their profits. I never got a tax credit from the government to build my business. These are incredibly wealthy, profitable businesses and shouldn’t have any problems using their own profits or getting investment dollars to find some more profit. They don’t need help from the government to do it. I would attack those abuses head on.”

SLUG: “What are your thoughts on environment and global warming?” PA: “The interesting thing about global warming is that, I’m probably going to see Al Gore’s movie this week, I don’t have an opinion on that yet, but on global warming itself – I’ve grown up in Utah. I remember growing up in Bountiful 30 years ago. We used to get three feet of snow from November to March every year. We used to get a lot of snow in the Salt Lake Valley. The evidence is apparent to me that the earth is getting hotter. The concern I have about the global warming issue is; if we are responsible, and I believe we are, how can we turn it back? I hear people talking about the cause rather than the solution. I view things like mercury in our environment, the pollution in our air, the pollution in our water, the fact that you can’t eat fish from some streams in Utah, you can’t eat ducks that you shoot in some areas of Utah, because of the mercury content. I view issues like Middle Eastern oil dependency propping up dictatorships and oppressive regimes with oil money as greater problems than the broader issue of global warming. What’s interesting is; if you attack those greater problems you also do a lot to solve the global warming issue. I think that what we have inside the Senate is a group of people that don’t have a lot of imagination, or at least the people in power don’t have a lot of imagination as far as alternative energy. I had the opportunity in this campaign to go down to the Intermountain Power Project in the Delta Valley. It’s a coal-fired plant that provides nearly 40 percent of Los Angeles’ power and Utah’s. They have two large turbines there and they have a pad for a third turbine, but they can’t build it because California passed a law that they weren’t going to buy any more coal-fired power. They are going to grandfather what they had, but power from any new plants brought online would not be purchased by California. What’s interesting about this problem is, the Delta Valley, if you go down and visit it, has nearly constant wind. It’s a high rate of wind and you could put a wind farm out there and generate the power that the third turbine otherwise would be doing, cleanly effectively and it’s something that we just ignore. My opponent, Orrin Hatch, talks of the wealth of oil shale throughout Utah, which was tried in the ‘80s, they tried and failed and now they’re trying to do it again. If we can do it cost effectively and without damage to the environment, great. I don’t see any evidence that we can. What they do is they dig this stuff up, they process it and you have three times the volume of waste as what you dug out of the ground. You’re taking shale and crushing it up. You fill up canyons with the waste product. They’re talking about some other ways, like NC2 heating and so forth, but I remain a skeptic. What’s more remarkable about that is we have a guy who’s talking about the great wealth we have underground and ignoring the wealth we have above ground. Wind, there are parts of this state that receive less than seven inches of precipitation each year and throughout the summer months the sun continues to beat down on us uncollected for the most part. It’s not just solar cells, it’s solar farms and solar chimneys that we could be building to do this kind of thing and geothermal. I live over on Capital Hill. You walk over to the Children’s Museum and you see water flowing out of the ground and into the sewer. We don’t do anything to collect that heat. I’m surprised Rocky hasn’t jumped on that, as a demonstration of his advanced thinking. We have opportunities like this all over the state. We also have really smart people in this state, really innovative people in Utah that continue to think past the curve and do great things. I met a guy, he’s a professor at USU, and he’s working on fusion, hot fusion. He has a fusion reactor he’s testing his ideas with and he explained to me that you could take a glass of heavy water, literally a pint of heavy water, and run a 200 horsepower automobile for 50 years. You buy a car, it’s got a reactor in it and you never have to worry about fuel again. I think that’s a really exciting idea in that the democratization of everything is what we’ve seen over the past years and energy and government, I think, are the next fields that are going to fall to that kind of democratization. If you generate all of your own power you don’t have to buy it from anyone. You don’t have to live on the grid. You can live out in the middle of nowhere and do it effectively. Democratization of government is the other angle I can talk to you about, the next question or whatever you want to do.

SLUG: “Go ahead with democratization of government.
PA: “I guess this is the broad focus of my campaign. In running my business I took the business philosophy that I was running it from the customer perspective. If I were a customer would I buy my own service? That has guided my decision making process, not only in crafting new services and serving the customer, but deciding on the big decisions as to whether I would sell or not. At the end of the ’90s, and a little bit into 2000 I received a lot of offers to sell my company. They would have been really good offers, for me. They would have been really bad offers for everybody else. The customers would suffer, the employees would have gone on to other jobs and the community would have lost a base of support for what we give back. I turned down all of those offers because I felt it was important to hold the people who brought me to that position above myself. The other idea in XMission is that I am open and transparent about everything that happens at XMission. You can go to the website and see not only our successes, but also our failures. You can see if we have an outage or somebody trips on a power chord or a server breaks down. It’s documented. We send it out to our subscribers and tell them about it. I think these two ideas of holding the constituents needs above your own and not only understanding what their needs are but also their ideas by soliciting that information, along with transparency, being open and honest are really great ideas to take to Washington. In regards to transparency we have seen over the last year with Jack Abramoff and other situations where the Democrats stomp back and forth and say, ‘this is a Republican problem, this is a culture of corruption inside the Republican party and our hands are clean. This is why you should vote Democrat.’ They go off and sign ethics declarations and they say we need tougher laws on lobbyists, but in reality they do nothing to change the situation. They don’t go back and lead by example. We don’t hear much about the culture of corruption these days because William J. Jefferson (D Louisiana) was caught with his hand in the cookie jar, taking bribes and it has yet to work out, but it appears to me that he did take bribes. The thing that is apparent to me is that this is a problem throughout our elected officials in Washington where, they need to keep us out of the process. We don’t need to know what’s going on in Washington. The irony there is; they want to know about what’s going on in our lives. They want to know everything we’re doing. They want to know what books we’re checking out, what phone calls we’re making, they want the ability to tap those calls without a warrant. If they do have to get a warrant they go to this kangaroo court in Washington that nobody knows who sits on, the information isn’t made public. I think that’s an atrocious abuse of the Constitution. I think the situation needs to be reversed. We need to have openness in the public lives of our public officials. We need to know exactly what’s going on and who they’re meeting with. Our lives need to be protected from invasions of the government. On a more important issue, I think the foundation of democracy is communication. The Internet presents a great way to expand that communication. I’m not just talking about sending emails or having online votes or things like that. What I’m talking about is true collaboration where the public’s opinion is solicited in an open forum and people are able to come together and build on that forum. I think the greatest example of how well this can work is the Wikipedia in that this is an encyclopedia that has been built by everybody, anyone that wants to participate. I have gone in and added information or edited grammar or just done minor things when I see them. Anyone has the ability to do that. Seeing the success that had I took the software that the Wikipedia runs on and I put it on my website. I said; this is how I’m going to craft my policy and platform. I’ve got ideas about how things should work but I want your criticism, I want your ideas about how things should work. I want you to bring me information. It has been resoundingly successful because nobody else has done anything like this before. Traditional campaigns, it’s kind of fought like a war. You’ve got to build up the walls and be secret and set up the armory and for somebody to come out and say, ‘Okay, I’m going to knock down the walls and allow anyone to participate with my campaign regardless of how much money they want to give me,’ that is completely new and unique in American politics today. I’ve been discouraged rising in prominence in business in Salt Lake and candidates have come to me in the past and all they’ve wanted is a check. They didn’t want any opinion on what was going on or how I could help their campaign or what they should do differently or how things should change in government. They just wanted some money from me. I didn’t want to be that kind of candidate. How I got to that philosophy is; I wanted to be the candidate that I could vote for, that I would feel good voting for and not just the lesser of two evils. That’s what I’ve tried to do.

Angela Brown asks, “Okay, so with your campaign you haven’t accepted any outside funding? Is that correct?”
PA: “No, I have. I won’t discount the need for funds but what I’ve tried to do with this campaign is also show effective ways of getting earned media spreading the word because I think it’s atrocious that in 2004 every single Senate race, the winner outspent the loser. We’re talking a minimum of five million dollars. For Democratic candidates in Utah, nobody is ever going to have a chance to even get to a million dollars. I absolutely believe that. It would take a celebrity or an ex-president to come in and live in Utah to raise that kind of money. It just doesn’t happen. I had to be creative about how I was going to spread the word and use my money effectively. Instead of hiring a focus group, which is what a traditional candidate will do, pay $30,000 to a PR firm to set-up focus groups and try to craft their opinions. I put a lot of this stuff on the Internet.

The other thing I think is important to notice about this strategy is; you look inside my own industry and look at google and yahoo and ebay and myspace, the best example right now. When was the last time you saw an ad for myspace? Have you ever seen an ad for myspace?” Angela Brown claims to have seen one to which Ashdown replies, “Right, but I’ll bet that that kind of advertising came after the Rupert Murdoch acquisition and after at least 10 or 20 million people had subscribed to the service. The Internet is demonstrating that you can, if you have good ideas, get them out and network them to a lot of people without a lot of money. I think this is what will revolutionize politics. It will allow people to get involved in the process who would otherwise think it was prohibitively costly. It just takes somebody to demonstrate that it is possible. I absolutely believe it’s possible in my race. If it’s not possible in my race I believe there will be a race down the road that demonstrates this.”

SLUG: “If Orrin Hatch has the money, that’s what you are facing, people still don’t know you. I told my coworkers, theoretically informed coworkers, I was talking with you and they asked, ‘who is that?’”
PA: “How do I get around that?” wa: “Yeah, I said, ‘oh, he’s running against Orrin Hatch,’ and of course they all hate Orrin Hatch, but it’s like a hurdle in front of you.”
PA: “What’s interesting is watching the polls done by the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune, my approval rating is going up versus the people who have no clue who I am altogether. I think the last approval I was at about 26 percent approval and two percent disapproval. I have no idea what I’ve done to offend these people. It is a matter of spreading the word. It is a matter of networking. I’ve built a business that people recognize as being synonymous with the Internet throughout Utah but people have no idea who is behind the business. People have no idea how it got started. Telling that story is part of spreading the word. I was discouraged by my recent poll numbers, until I talked to Ted Wilson. Ted Wilson was elected mayor of Salt Lake when he was about 30 years old. He told me he declared in the August prior to the election and he had a two percent approval rating. He didn’t have a business people were more aware of than him and he worked and got it turned around and won the election. He told me that as you get closer to the election the microscopes are going to come out and people are going to look at you and your approval rating is going to build commiserately.

Angela Brown: “What are some of the events you’re doing to kind of represent that?”
PA: “It’s not just networking on the Internet. I’m not sitting behind my computer the whole time. I’ve spent the last year, and this is also something unique about my campaign, and something that came from my friends urging me to get out there and do it fulltime and get started early. I started in March of 2005 and I started traveling around the state. I’m a member of the Rotary Club locally and I used that advantage to go and talk to Rotary Clubs all over Utah. I talked to them, I talked to Chambers of Commerce, I talked to Kiwanis Clubs and Exchange Clubs and just about anyone who will allow me to speak. I think that has done a lot to spread the word but also, talking to newspapers in rural Utah, they don’t have a lot of opportunity for a Senate candidate to walk in their office and say, ‘Hey, I’d like to do an interview with you.’ That’s a great way to spread the word too. Through the unique angles I’ve taken in this race I’ve received a lot of press. I’ve received international attention from the BBC, national attention from PBS and the National Press Institute. I think doing things differently is excuse enough to get that earned media. It would be absolutely cost-prohibitive for me to buy that kind of exposure. It has come by trying to think about things in a new way. Using the Internet to document all of those articles, you can go on my website and see everything that’s been written about this race and my campaign and my history. It’s a way to continually build on that earned media.”

The photographer, Dan Gorder piped up at this point with a question on flag burning, certainly an issue of great importance to Americans in the midst of a war on terror. After some discussion Ashdown stated his philosophy on Constitutional Amendments, something the Senior Senator from Utah and the child president have wasting considerable time, effort and resources on. What is Ashdown’s position? “I think the broader question is, ‘When is it appropriate to amend the Constitution?’ My philosophy on amending the Constitution is that it should be to affirm rights and never to restrict rights. The only time we’re restricted rights with the Constitution was with Prohibition. We all know how well that turned out. It was repealed through another amendment and I think we need to look long and hard at some of these other amendments like flag burning and defining marriage because they restrict rights.”

Random stands on other issues? “I stand against any new nuclear testing and I stand against any new nuclear development.”

Although the issue wasn’t on my list of concerns it was on Ashdown’s and he gave his opinion on the current situation with copyright law and downloading.
PA: “I stand on using innovation to your advantage rather than trying to fight it from ever occurring. I think what is great about what is happening right now on the Internet is that it’s giving people who would have otherwise never seen any exposure the ability to get out there and sell their music. What I would like to see as a fellow record collector and music enthusiast is back catalog. There’s stuff out there that I can’t get a hold of and I have ebay searches trying to find it. There’s also another great service which pops up stuff for me every now and then but that’s the dumb way to do it. Record labels and independents should buy back catalogs and put them up on the Internet for people to download…Part of the problem I’ve had with Hatch is that he’s taken a one-sided approach. He’s taken the music industry approach and not listened to anyone who has to deal with the Internet and as a result some of the legislation that’s been passed, like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, has caused some real problems for Internet service providers like myself because I had no input on that process and nobody who understood that process had enough power to have input on it. That’s another big motivation for me.”

Obviously Ashdown is strong on technology issues. He is an expert, but he doesn’t want to base his entire campaign on his technological strengths, despite the need for someone with his knowledge in the United States Senate.
PA: “I won’t deny that strength. The thing I want to emphasize is, although I’m really good on technology. I’m really good on simple things like balancing a budget and income to debt ratios, but there are areas that are out of my expertise and I fully acknowledge that. What I’m doing with these collaboration technologies is allowing people to come in and be my advisory staff…right now we have a lot of despair and apathy towards politics in that we don’t really make any difference. We write our letters, we make our phone calls, we send our emails and it’s this petitioning process that largely gets ignored. What doesn’t get ignored are the special interests, the money venturists, the lobbyists, the people that see our elected officials everyday. I don’t think we’re ever going to get rid of them because they have First Amendment rights too. What I’m advocating for is raising the voice of the people to be equal.”