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August 29, 2006

Peter Goldmark Reports from the Amber Wave Tour

Peter Goldmark called to talk about what he is finding as he tours the rural parts of the 5th CD.   I had suggested to the campaign that they blog about what they were finding as they talked and listened and visited with folks in the small towns of the Okanogan and Methow valleys, then down through Spokane and Pullman and into the southeastern-most parts of the state on his Amber Wave Tour.   They suggested I interview him instead so I got to talk with Goldmark from the tour and hear first hand his impressions of the situation in our rural areas.

He told a story about a group of conservative Republican cattlemen who’d come to hear him in Wauconda a day earlier.  They asked him a bunch of questions and nodded at his answers.  At the end they said they agreed with everything he said.  Then they asked him, “So, how come you’re not a Republican?” 

Goldmark said, “The Democrats work for the little guy, the folks getting the dirty end of the stick.  The big guys don’t need help.  It’s the little guys hurting.” 

They said he had an interesting point.

Peter added to me, “If they hadn’t been unhappy with the way things are going, they wouldn’t have come to listen to hear me talk.  Contrary to myth, some Republicans think.”

Before I go to the actual interview, David Goldstein wrote yesterday about Congressional Quarterly’s upgrading of Peter’s race in the 5th.  It went from  “safe Republican” to “leans Republican”.  Goldy says:

This is HUGE, as it represents the first national recognition that Peter Goldmark actually has a shot at winning. And given the Democratic wave we all are hoping for, and sufficient financial resources to get his message out, Goldmark can do it.

Goldmark is getting a lot of blogger press these last couple days.  Douglass at McCranium also has an interview up with Goldmark.  It is a wide-ranging interview that was conducted several days ago.  I had a chance to read that before I talked with Peter today so I stayed away from what Doulass had discussed with Peter and went for new territory, which was pretty easy because I am really interested in what is going on in rural Washington and Peter was ready to talk about it with me.  Douglass’ interview is definitely well worth a read, especially if you want a fuller picture of Goldmark’s thoughts on the campaign, his opponent, his own qualifications and his thoughts on the war in Iraq.   

N in Seattle put up a nice piece as well over at Peace Tree Farm which summarizes the other pieces up on Goldmark over these last couple days.

Before we go over the fold, I should add that money is particularly important in Peter’s race because he is not getting much PAC money and no money from the national Democrats, having not hit their radar screen yet.  He is at the point in his campaign that Darcy was several months ago.   We helped work magic there.  We can do it here.  So, if you can do it, contribute at his website.  Stop by to see his great ads as well. 

LA: So what have you been seeing and hearing as you meet with folks in the rural towns in your district?

PG: I’ve been traveling across the Okanogan and Methow valleys, up in the flats where there have historically been lots of family orchards, producing fruit for the region, the nation and the world.  Two-thirds of the farms that have been there for 80 years or so are gone.  This decline has been going on for a15-20 years but it has accelerated in the last 7 years.  The farms are lying idle and there is nothing in their place.  It is alarming and even more alarming that people aren’t up in arms about it.

I was talking to a 2nd generation orchardist there today.  They grow cherries, apples, and pears.  It’s been a hard year for them.  There was hail at a critical time in the growing cycle.  It didn’t ruin the fruit but it damaged it so it could only be used for juice.  Now in the past, the price per ton of concentrated apple juice was somewhere between $120 and $240.  Now it’s available from China at $60, $70, $80 per ton.  It is unlikely that farmer will be able to even pick the fruit for that price.

The only way the orchard is still functioning is because this farmer draws no salary and his wife works off the farm.  It’s still touch and go.  One of his neighbors, whom I also met, is likely to go out of business this year. 

This decline has happened incrementally.  People aren’t recognizing the enormous amount of change but it is unmistakable when you step back.  The direction we are going in with losing farmers and farms is universally agreed to be wrong and yet no one is doing anything about it.  Have to take a look at the underlying policies that are leading this destruction. 

We have to change the direction of this country.  I’m determined to be a part of it and I’m determined that alternative energy policies will be a part of it.

LA: Let’s talk about that.  You had a great analysis on your website on this subject, talking about three crises with one solution.  (Note: it’s not on the website in this same way now so I’m reproducing it here from the earlier post.)

Enlightened energy future includes renewable solutions today

    Crisis One: Families face losing farms to high fuel and low crop prices.
    Crisis Two: America becomes more dependent on foreign oil.
    Crisis Three: Global warming threatens dramatic climate changes.

    Three crises--one solution, according to Peter Goldmark.

"Biofuels represent an opportunity to turn around the economy of Eastern Washington, to move toward energy independence, and to provide a fuel that is carbon neutral," Goldmark said.

PG: The energy crisis is creating an opportunity in the new renewal resources economy.  There is conservation, wind, biofuels and more.  I want to help farmers grow biofuel crops instead of wheat.  Canola and other oil-rich crops, and biomass converted into propane or ethanol.

Ethanol is a bridge technology.  The energy yield is slim.  You get 30-40% more energy that you put in, maybe not even that.  Nothing is as good as biodiesel which yields 3-4 times what you invest in energy.  And it offers a great opportunity for farmers to be part of the solution and to make a living off it.

LA: I think that this issue creates an opportunity for urban and rural folks to come together on an important issue where our interests merge.

PG: Yes.  I think urban people in western Washington would be ecstatic to have eastern Washington farmers supply the fuel that we need.  As it is now, 60-70% of the money that runs our gas economy goes overseas.  With the new alternative fuel economy, it is a closed cycle both economically and biologically.  The use of biofuels is a closed carbon cycle.  There is no more energy or heat released after we use the fuels in our cars and factories than before.  No additional carbons are released into the atmosphere.  The same is true of dollars.  The money stays in this country.

LA: So what do you think about the plant being constructed by Imperium Renewables in Grays Harbor for refining palm oil from Malaysia for use as biodiesel fuel?

PG: I worry about the location of that plant in Grays Harbor.  There are five plants currently being built in eastern Washington but I don’t think any of them are as large.  There is a lot of cost, both in energy and dollars, expended in getting the raw materials from eastern Washington to Grays Harbor.  And, I have issues with the use of palm oil.  I’d like to know more about the economics of the palm oil being converted and about the damage to the forests where the palm oil is coming from. 

I’d like to put people together on this to see what we can do.  I understand there will need to be a transition from where we are today.  We have to get to a point where our farmers can grow the crops needed for our own fuel supply.  I’ve listened to the people at WSU talk about this.  We need to get our heads together about our longer term goals here.

Back in Congress, it’s still idle talk.  President Bush’s original budget had only $60 million allotted for the development of alternative energy.  I think it’s been raised since then but not by nearly enough. 

LA: You said that you don’t consider yourself a traditional Democrat.  What does that mean to you?

PG: The Western Democrats have a refreshing approach to some age-old issues that Democrats haven’t woken up to.  There is a way to talk about the environment that’s positive and that resonates with rural people.  They want to enjoy the great outdoors and go hunting and fishing and camping.  They know that their ability to do that is dependent on conserving their resources. 

Second amendment rights of gun ownership are important in the West.  For people like me and Brian Schweitzer, governor of Montana, who’ve been ranchers all our lives, guns are an important tool and an integral part of their lives.

(Note: Schweitzer will be coming to Spokane for a campaign event with Goldmark on 9/9 – see the campaign website for more information)

LA: McJoan, front-pager at DailyKos, has a description of the new rural Western Democrat that she thinks fits you in a post she wrote called, “The Revolt in the Rural West”.  Does that make sense to you?

PG: Yes.  There are lots of upset citizens out there and that people are talking about taking their country back all the time.  I talk on the campaign trail a lot about bringing honesty and integrity back to Congress.  Most foreign governments don’t trust us anymore and people here are also tired of the lies.  Clean Skies.  No Child Left Behind.  The government is telling them one thing and doing another.  It’s a continuing nightmare when you get to that place where you can’t trust your government. 

The assessments in “No Child Left Behind” are punitive according to both parents and teachers.  The government didn’t fund it fully even at the beginning and now they’re taking even that money away.  People are figuring out the bait and switch.  We were lied to about the Iraq war.  There are not many folks who don’t know that.  It’s a continuing nightmare when you get to the spot where you can’t believe your own government. 

Thanks for taking time out of your tour to talk with me.

Posted by Lynn Allen on August 29, 2006 at 12:45 PM in Candidate Races, Interviews | Permalink


Goldmark's answer to the conservative cattlemen was OK, but I think it would have been better to say something like:

"This is the way Democrats approach these issues. So, how come *you're* not Democrats?"

I'd love to know how they would answer.

Posted by: Neal Traven | Aug 29, 2006 1:36:48 PM

Excellent! Peter Goldmark has the mojo in person, too. Buh bye Cathy McMoron. By the way, Gov. Schweitzer is the featured speaker at the Chelan Co Democrats' Jefferson/Jackson dinner on Sept. 9. Peter Goldmark and Richard Wright are scheduled to appear, also. More here: http://www.chelandemocrats.org/.

And you're right. A better response would have been to throw that question right back to the "conservative cattleman." Did you suggest that to Goldmark, or did you think of it later? Perhaps you could email him that so he would be ready the next time that comes up, which it will.

Posted by: bluesky | Aug 29, 2006 2:30:31 PM

Neal: that was a great comeback. I never think of those until I'm driving down the road. Please do email it over to Peter's campaign! One of the things to remember is that Peter is new to politics and these kind of comebacks come with experience.
Lynn, thank you so much for posting this, I linked to it over at Anjha's new site Progressive Action Spot where she's done a roundup for Peter as well.

Posted by: mainsailset | Aug 29, 2006 4:25:00 PM

Great interview and thank you.

I just started looking at Goldmark about a week ago.

From what I have read about him he seems wonderful and very appealing to the more red part of the state.

His qualities seem warm and sincere. His pictures are inviting. His statements on the issues seem right on and his experience in public service, science and ranching are perfect for the 5th.

I am curious what his stand is on women's rights and other civil rights issues such as GLBT. Not that it would change my support for him. We need a Dem majority regardless and I cannot agree with everyone on every issue.

I understand why his website might not offer statements on those issues; those issues might be too controversial for that part of the state.

I am wondering if you were able to talk about women's choice and equality or GLBT issues? Or, does anyone else know where he stands on those issues?

Thanks again for the interview.

Posted by: Anjha | Aug 29, 2006 6:57:25 PM


Hm. I'd like to ask him about that although my guess is that he would probably prefer not to advertise his views on those issues, whichever way he falls. I'm guessing he's on the liberal side on that but I'm not sure his district is.

Posted by: Lynn | Aug 30, 2006 9:18:50 AM

Lynn, I suspect that as well. I believe that this is why there is no such information on his site.

I look forward to a time in America where people can share the truth about their views.

Posted by: Anjha | Aug 31, 2006 12:15:17 PM

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