St. Amant: 'We're seriously in danger of losing our democracy.'
Dave St. Amant wants to fix America. For him, that begins by supplanting five-term Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin with himself. Last month, the 51-year-old cab driver and freelance computer repairman announced his plan to run as a Democrat for Wisconsin's 2nd Congressional District seat, which Baldwin has held since 1998.
Despite Baldwin's soaring popularity among Dane County voters, St. Amant says that the more he talks with people the more they realize he's the better candidate. But convincing friends is one thing; convincing the public is another.
An on-again, off-again Madisonian, St. Amant is self-financing his campaign. He may begin accepting donations later this summer, but says he won't accept individual donations above $5. Keeping his war chest under $5,000 will spare him from having to file paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission.
"If I can't win with $5,000 or less, there's something wrong with the message, not the messenger," he says.
In the last two elections, radio magnate Dave Magnum has spent millions of his own money running against Baldwin in two previous elections and lost miserably. Undeterred, St. Amant writes Magnum off as a lesser candidate.
St. Amant spoke with The Daily Page last week about his bid for Baldwin's seat.
The Daily Page: Why are you running against Tammy Baldwin?
St. Amant: Frustration over not being able to get Tammy to do the things that I think need to be done now and that will need to be done in the future. We're seriously in danger of losing our democracy. I don't want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I honestly believe that we are teetering on the edge of fascism. We're becoming a society that's being run by and for the major corporations rather than the individual and I can't let that happen.
Do you feel that Tammy has been complicit in leading the country toward fascism?
She's been very silent on a lot of things. She finally signed on to Kucinich's impeachment bill, but she was forced into that. I don't know how much this had to do with it, but I phoned her office and asked her to check out Russ's Diary on Daily Kos about how we shouldn't impeach, how it wasn't the time and it was getting thousands of responses and there wasn't a single one of them wasn't good. And I said, "You guys need to read this, because you're next." The sentiment out there is anger, bitter, if you will.
So you feel she has failed her constituency?
She's failed her constituency on that level. I don't think she's a bad Congresswoman; I think she's a very fine person. She has a knack for making people feel good, but the job is U.S. Congressperson, not social worker.
What skills or experience would you bring to Congress that Tammy Baldwin doesn't have?
The willingness and ability to stand up and shout from the rooftop about what is right. I have no experience in elected office; that may or may not be a benefit. I have years and years of experience of being politically aware, but only from a community activist level. I really think there is a time for statesmanship and time for when people need to stir the pot. We need to stir the pot to get American's to wake up, and that's what I'd bring to Congress.
Is your candidacy a legitimate attempt to win or a sounding board for disapproval?
It's a little of both. Primarily it started as a way to express my dissatisfaction. However, as time goes on and the more I talk to people, I realize that I could win. I feel especially feel that if Tammy, as a superdelegate, goes for Hillary Clinton, who she has currently committed to, in a district where Obama won by huge margins, there could be enough of a backlash that if people don't even know anything about me, they might see my name on the ballot and check off the box.
What has been the response to your candidacy so far?
It's been mixed, but I'm really surprised by the number of people who've expressed gratitude. Many people have said, "We need this. Tammy has not doing enough." Frankly, I thought I was going to get a lot more negative stuff. Even my friends, who have started off with, "But I love Tammy." But after eight or nine emails back and forth, I get, "Wow! I'm supporting you. I wish we could have both of you in office." It's been very nice.