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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Jesse Cornett Defends Use of Paid Door-Knockers

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Thu, Apr 22, 2010 at 11:53 AM

Cornett: Supports hugs, paid canvassers.
  • Cornett: Supports hugs, paid canvassers.
Earlier this week we endorsed city council challenger Jesse Cornett for Commissioner Dan Saltzman's current seat, and now some news is leaking out about his use of campaign funds. Though he's styling himself as the down-with-the-people grassroots candidate, Cornett will be using $57,000 to hire 20 paid canvassers for his campaign. What gives?

Cornett explains that he weighed his financial options and decided to nix running TV campaign ads, instead directing that money to hiring paid door-knockers. "In the course of the campaign, I've talked about unprecedented outreach to Portland voters. And as I looked at options and ways to spend money, I could either spend money to mail out piece after piece of paper to Portland voters, or I could do the same thing on TV. But I thought it would be better to do it in a way where people can ask questions and have some exchange," says Cornett.

Cornett's campaign will be using canvassers from Democracy Resources, an agency which is known for gathering signatures for progressive ballot measures.

The move is a little odd, given that Cornett's repping his involvement with the Bus Project during his race. The Bus Project champions using volunteers for political campaigns and organizers volunteer canvasses in major races precisely so that candidates don't have to worry as much about raising funds for paid workers. But, then again, unseating an incumbent is a nearly-impossible uphill battle.

Cornett doesn't think it's so odd: his campaign is also drawing on "about 100" volunteers going door-to door, too. "It's how many doors you wanna hit, it's how many people you want to talk to. We've got the tremendous grass-roots campaign and we're supplementing it," says Cornett.

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