I spent a couple of hours yesterday with a crew of three outside the Market Basket on Main Street in Andover, collecting some of the 2000 certified signatures of Unenrolleds and Republicans that will be needed to get Sam Meas on the ballot this fall.
In just over two hours' worth of work, we got just about 50 signatures. Bear in mind, that's 50 *raw* signatures, some of which will inevitably be thrown out because people aren't actually registered at their listed address, or because they made stray marks, or because they don't know how they are registered, etc. Of the 50we got, let's say 30 or so will actually count.
I must admit that's WAY less than I had anticipated. The weather certainly didn't help, as people were mostly just looking to get in from the cold and the rain, rather than talk to us.
Of the people that stopped, partisanship wasn't really a big issue. Many seemed to know that it's "signature season" and were happy to engage and sign, even if they were Unenrolleds planning to vote for Niki Tsongas this fall.
The biggest takeaway, though, is that numbers like 2000 (required for a U.S. Congressional seat) or 10,000 (gubernatorial) are nothing to sneeze at. Before, I could never understand why some candidates hire professional signature-getters and pay them $2 or more per valid John Hancock.
Now, that makes more sense to me -- the required signatures are one of the only real *showstoppers* that could get in the way of someone being in the hunt at all come primary time. In the grand scheme of things, that makes the money some people spend seem worth it.
On the other hand, if you've got a well-organized volunteer staff, 20 people each getting 100 valids doesn't seem insurmountable. Plus, you can get way more bang for your buck, so to speak, by going to large gatherings where people can just pass the sheet around.
Either way, the signature piece isn't easy and it's not something you can ever overlook.
Just ask Jim "close, but not quite there" Ogonowski, or a former Illinois State Senator named Alice Palmer who ran against a then-unknown up-and-comer for a seat from Chicago back in 1996.