In his campaign for the U.S. Senate, former Navy>"/>
Update: Another senate-race underdog Bob Burr says he, too, is running a no-donations-accepted campaign. More below.
In his campaign for the U.S. Senate, former Navy Judge Advocate (JAG) officer Schalk Leonard appears to have a challenge even larger than trying to defeat the powerful and heavily bankrolled Patty Murray: He wants to do it without your donations. "I believe in clean hands," says the 50-year-old Poulsbo semi-retiree. "I believe that at no time should your senator ever accept campaign donations." He plans to unseat the incumbent with a tidy campaign run on his own dollar and the promise to "seek no fame or fortune."
It's not necessarily a novel approach - others have tried it, and failed - and refusing donations is a good underdog gambit when you're unlikely to get them anyway.
Having never been elected to office and having nothing to hide, he's for full disclosure as well.
"Some members of Congress, like Senator Murray, do not support openness," he notes. "They would prefer to engage in secret dealings behind closed doors. They would prefer to have their staff whisper back and forth with lobbyists."
Leonard hasn't yet filed a campaign expense report, but he's confident he can make it to D.C. on his own dime. "I know it sounds radical, but it can be done." We'll know more around midnight August 17.
Update: Bellingham semi-retiree and small-business owner Bob Burr (see comment below) wants us to know he's also running against Murray on his own dime.
The only way to change this is to get private money out of politics. I accept none. Polls show that people of all parties and backgrounds strongly want public financing of elections. The politicians don't. Incumbents like their built-in advantage. I will lead the charge for publicly financed elections.
A 15-year Bellingham resident, Burr was Vice President of Research and Development for The Prudential before opening a consulting practice. He's on the Board of the Whatcom County Democrats and a member of the state Democrat Platform Committee. He agrees with Leonard about the systemic failure of the senate.
"The political system is corrupt to its core," says Burr. "Corporations exert undue influence over elected officials, legislation and regulation. Politicians put special interests ahead of the public interest. It shows up in earmarks, tax breaks and legislative concessions. Approval ratings of the U.S Senate are at an all-time low .
"We are tired of the charade of senators who may spend their days criticizing the special interests, but take checks from the same industries at night."