Idaho Free Press from Nampa, Idaho on February 21, 1976 · Page 50
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Idaho Free Press from Nampa, Idaho · Page 50

Nampa, Idaho
Issue Date:
Saturday, February 21, 1976
Page 50
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TJ* Idaho Free Press TV .News-Tribune, Saturday, February 21, H7S-C-4 Tne moking of q candidate: Aide learns trials of seeking office WASHINGTON U P I ) - The angry woman waved a red rose in Jeff Peterson's face and demanded, "What is this?" . "II is a rose," he said. She threw it to the floor anJ crushed il with her hep). "You ·are a murderer. Mr. Peterson," she said. The woman is againsl abort i o n . Her group c a m e lo Washington to demand a cons l i t u l i o n a l a m e n d m e n t . Pel .erson is the chief aide of Sen. Abraham Ribicoff, D-Conn., and HibicoFf sent him lo meet with the Connecticut delegation. "Mr. Peterson," said someone, "you have (old us the senator's position. But we un- dersland you may soon he s candidate for office. What is your position?" Peterson said he, like Ribi- c o f f , supports Ihe S u p r e m e Court decision and opposes a constitutional a m e n d m e n t . "We will see to il ( h a t you are never elected to public office in Connecticut," he was told, and a n o t h e r angry c o n s t i t u e n t walked away. That is one ot the things that have happened since J e f f Peterson reached a big decision: lo run for Congress. The country at large won't notice - or care -- w h e t h e r he runs or wins. But it must make some difference. In 200 years. 10.633 persons h a v e sal in Congress. They have been part of an ever-changing composite, as Ihe founding fathers intended, and the composite, of course, has mattered. · .Now Peterson wants to join the amalgam. Over coffee the olher day he told how he reached his decision. and some ol the things -- aside from Ihe red rose incident - t h a t have happened. He is 30, square-jawed, shoulders like a linebacker. When he was a kid his parents were R e p u b l i c a n s , and he r e m e m b e r s c h a n t i n g t h i s schoolboy doggerel in his hometown - s t a u n c h l y Republican, well-to-do, artsy- c r a f l s y suburban Westport, Crnin.: Whistle while you work Stevenson is a jerk; Eisenhower has more power; Stevenson is turning sour; So whistle while you work. He went to Choale School on a scholarship, and Harvard. Then, interested in politics, he moved lo W a s h i n g t o n , a t t e n d e d Georgetown I,aw School at night and landed a job with Hibicoft as an a i d e on taxes, social security. .Medicare and welfare. He lefl the Senate payroll for a few months in 1974 lo campaign lor liibicoff's re-election. Ribicoff is one of the most popular politicians in his state's h i s t o r v : the campaign was a l a r k . "Suddenly I remembered how n.uch I loved the political part of il." he says. "I thought, now's the lime to get in il." Always a procrastinalor, Peterson f i n a l l y committed himself by w r i t i n g l e l t e r s to the Democratic c h a i r m e n in the seven towns of Ihe district -Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, Norwalk, Stamford and Westporl. He asked for appointments, to tell them of his interest. Now he was in the race. The candidate is picked by a congessional d i s t r i c t c o n v e n - tion, If a person gels 51 per cent of Ihe delegates, he is Ihe party designee. If a candidate for Ihe nomination gels 20 per cent, he has the right to tight for the nomination in a primary. Pelcrson's strategy is to scare off polcnlial opponents by going for delegates early. "I've already told everybody that I'll primary (if he doesn't get 51 per cent)," he says. "I'm giving up a $40,000 job. I love Washington. I'm not in Ihis for a lark. I'm not waiting for a political machine to give me my turn." So he spends every weekend in Connneclicul. Friends study the papers for Democratic functions. He attended so many picnics last summer he started to get p a u n c h y . " W i t h o u t realizing it, you eat a hamburger here, a hamburger there," he says. On an average weekend he hits two events Friday n i g h t , three or four Saturday, one or two Saturday night, one or two Sunday. One Saturday in Stamford he attended a Women's Festival, then realized he had nothing on for the night He stopped at a newsstand which slocks every newspaper printed in Ihe d i s t r i c t , settled in for Ihe evening -- he constantly reads Connecticut newspapers -- and saw a note in (he Weekly Shopper about a Democratic cocktail party. "In no lime. I showered, dressed and zipped over there." And always the lists. He has a number of lists -- lists of potential delegates (he's willing to bet (hat 99 per cent of those who attend Ihe convention will have been oil his list), of potential volunteers (he signs up 30 in a good weekend) and potential donors. II is awkward, he finds, to attend functions -- particularly dances ol ethnic Democrats -unescorted and unknown. "You pray for someone you know to latch onto, and you pray he'll introduce you around," he says. "The worst experience was at a Puerto Ftican Democratic Club dance. 1 didn't know anyone, except one guy who has his eye on the seat himself. Finally I met a guy who knew someone I knew. We talked a while, then I said, 'Look, will you introduce me around?' I just kept dose lo his side. "Il's funny. Sometimes people just come up to you and say, 'I'd like lo support you'. Just because they like the way you look. "You could be Altila the Hun, or a card-carrying Communist, they don't care. They want lo know the people who represent them. People jusl want to be talked to. They just want you lo lake an interest in them " The 4lh Dislricl is Ihought of ns a rich man's district, a c o u n t r y club dislricl, Peterson says. It has more corporate headquarters than anyplace except New York and Chicago. The dislricl has 40,000 or so commuters who work in New York. The New York Daily News is Ihe dislrid's best-read newspaper. II also has areas of 14 per cent joblessness, and slums. It is a swing district, a l t e r n a t e l y electing Republicans and Democrats. Peterson says the district's wealthy Democrats are issue- minded, but not interested in bread and butter issues. "They're interested in saving baby fur seals," he says. "And they're true blue -- if you don't agree with them 100 per cent, you're the enemy." The incumbent is Republican Slewart McKinney, serving his third t e r m . Americans for Democratic Action gives him a voting rating of 72. Peterson says his strategy if he gets Ihe nomination, will be to attack him with fainl praise. "He's a nice guy. He answers his mail. In Washington he gets on the social pages. But he hasn't initiated any legislation. "He's excited about a motor- cyle helmet law -- he's a motorcyclist. Gee, (hat's his major accomplishment. I'll tell people if that's all Ihey want from their congressman, Ihey should vole for him," Peterson says. Unable lo come up with a slogan, he's just about decided to go without one ('"Peterson-a man who gets things done' isn't so hoi, is it?" he asks). He thinks his bumper stickers will be blue, green and while -"fresh, environmental colors. The environmental question is big because the districl borders on Long Island Sound. "The bumper stickers will have lo say 'Peterson' and 'Congress'. I've got to make thai association in people's minds. I even picked Christmas cards thai showed a nice picture of the Capitol. "Anyway, this year I senl out Christmas cards for the first lime. I sent Ihem lo 800 or 900 of my dearest friends." J K K K PETKHSO.N 1 , CHIEF AIDE of Sen. A b r a h a m Kibicoff, D-Conn., who has derided lo run lor Congress, recounts some of I hi' things that h a v e happened to him since hr made (he decision lo seek office. One woman ;issurpd him. "We w i l l sw lo it that you are never elected to public oflicc in Connecticut." after a confrontation wilh a group against abortion. in'll'holo) 20°o OFF ON ALL JEANS! (Check Our Shop lor Specials Each Hour) Ladies' tsbs POLYESTER PANTS * KARCHER MALL 466-7252 In basic pull-on style. Assorted colors. Medium sizes only. Reg. $7.99 $399 Limited to Stock on Hand No layaways Karcher Mall Shopping Center QUEEN SIZE CLOTHING Special Selection! 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