On Election Day 1968 I gathered a gang of friends and we marched from Centennial Elementary School to my neighborhood polling place chanting “Humphrey Humphrey he’s our man Nixon belongs in the garbage can”, I was 9. In 1972 I volunteered for the McGovern campaign, I spent most of my time running errands and getting coffee but I was helping out. I have vivid memories of the “Come Home America” campaign ads that featured Shirley MacLaine, Paul Newman and others, I was 13.
In 1975 during his concession speech then Easton Mayor Fred Ashton made special mention of young Don Flad for his tireless efforts on behalf of the campaign, I was 16. Later that year I contacted the Jimmy Carter campaign and asked if I could lead the effort for him in Northampton County, I received a really nice letter telling me that they would prefer someone old enough to vote but they would ensure that I was included in the formation of the local committee. In 1976 I scheduled a debate between myself and Andy Daub, Chairman of the GOP, before the student body of Easton High School. A teacher’s strike prevented the debate from taking place.
In 1980 Jeff Parks & I traveled the county campaigning for Jimmy Carter with this kid making most of the speeches. During that summer I went to DC for a White House internship. Once they found out my campaign experience they upgraded my security clearance and used me to give VIP tours of the White House and ferry messages back and forth to the campaign and convention staff. I had high security and VIP passes to the Democratic Convention and was able to hang at Studio 54 for the after party on the final night of the convention. I escorted Chip Carter around the Lehigh Valley on campaign visits, Miss Lillian made a point of giving me a hug for all my efforts and I drove the ABC and NBC reporters back and forth from the airport as they followed the First Lady as she pressed the flesh in Lehigh Valley Mall. State Senator Jeannette Reibman ran a campaign ad about me when she ran for congress.
In 1984 Walter Mondale offered me a job with his campaign in New Hampshire. I was asked to attend Jesse Jackson’s rally at Lafayette College because they wanted some noted and respected party leaders at the event. I was given VIP seating and escorted in early to an evening with Geraldine Ferraro.
In 1992 I stood in front of the Stonewall bar in a tight t-shirt and boxer shorts to campaign for Bill Clinton. During the inauguration parade my seats were so good that I slammed in to singing icon Judy Collins because neither one of us were paying attention to where we were walking.
Former State Representative and State Party Chairman TJ Rooney called me the conscience of the Democratic Party. I organized some of the most successful fundraising dinners for the party. Candidates bragged about my support and resented me when I did not support them. I was a big fish in a little pond.
And, then I walked away from it and tried not to look back. I still helped out Bob Freeman from time to time and last year I dove back in head first to support John Callahan for Congress. In my euphoria I got myself elected to the County/City Democratic committees and ran a one day, well received; write in campaign for the State Senate. I thought that I was ready to jump back into the arena.
I was wrong. I actually dislike politics now more than I did when I walked away the first time.
End Part One…..