Days 33 and 34: 6/22/19-6/23/19

The unexpected happened over the weekend in this crowded Democratic primary: we got another candidate.

Joe Sestak threw his hat into the ring, making himself candidate number 25 in BTE’s list. He already landed on my charts with a welcome email, which is more than some other candidates can claim. With Sestak’s inclusion, 18 campaigns sent 45 emails over the weekend.

I got to add a new color!

Take a look at the chart above and remember that the weekend was only 2 days. Tim Ryan had a LOT to get across to me in those days with a whopping 8 emails. Even the next most prolific, Joe Biden, only sent 5, and Steve Bullock, desperate for inclusion, restrained himself to 4.

And what was so important to warrant so many emails from Ryan?

He remembered he had a merch store.

Less than 50% donation ask over the weekend!

I wish I were joking, but of the 6 emails pushing a candidate’s merch, Tim Ryan sent 5 of them. 5 emails in 2 days suggesting I buy his campaign merch and use an exclusive discount code. (The sixth merch email came from Beto O’Rourke, offering me the standard sticker-for-donation exchange.)

Ryan also sent 2 emails to ask me to host a watch party, as one of his “most committed” supporters. Like Amy Klobuchar before, the flattery is transparent and either blatantly untrue or a telling sign of the campaign’s struggles: I have signed up for emails and done nothing more.

Ryan’s sixth email was nominally a survey and nominally about policy:

I will fight to restore the voice of working families. They deserve a seat at the table. And I’ll fight to rebuild an America that works for everyone.
Can you back this plan for me?

[YES button]
If the answer is yes, I’m excited for you to learn more about my campaign. Visit to learn more.

That was the entire email. I felt…uninspired. For a candidate who has compared multi-candidate events to speed-dating, I would have hoped he’d give me a little more substance when he had my one-on-one attention.

Elizabeth Warren, on the other hand, twice tried to coax me into signing up to have a beer with her family and once pointing out that it was her birthday and would I sign her card?

For the first time, all the topics were covered.

Warren wasn’t the only candidate running a contest. Most of the debate contests have closed, as hotel rooms were booking up fast, but Julian Castro was holding his open just a little bit longer than the rest. Not only was he only asking me to sign up instead of giving a donation, if I signed up in these last days, I would get two entries into the contest. All 3 of his emails were reminding me of this…and also (perhaps unintentionally) pointing out that by not supporting him immediately, my name was twice as important as those who didn’t need to be cajoled into signing up. I can’t help but feel bad for those all-in on Castro who signed up immediately for the chance to support him only to learn that if they’d hesitated, they’d be twice as likely to get to meet him.

Castro, I WANT to like you, but then you send me emails like this.

The Welcome topic was finally used, which I remember saying I probably never would. I have to eat my words now as Joe Sestak introduced himself and apologized for taking so long to join the race, but he was taking time to be at the side of his daughter who’s brain cancer had returned. She had beaten it back again, so now he was entering the race.

Sestak has the most impressive military experience of any of the candidates, having served for 31 years and retiring as an Admiral. He also served as a U.S. Congressman for two terms, and now seems to be the “President who serves the American people the way they deserve to be served.”

I can’t help but wonder at his motives.

Sestak joined too late to qualify for the first debates, and it’s unlikely he’ll make the second. The September debates have an even higher bar, and by that point, the country will be pretty settled on the 20-21 candidates who had made their cases in the first two debates. Breaking into this field now will be a monumental task that, while not impossible, is highly improbable. And yet Sestak looked at the crowded field and decided he had a voice none of the existing candidates were representing well enough.

He’s not unqualified, but none of the current candidates are unqualified. I just don’t see him as better qualified or bringing a truly unique perspective to the Presidency than any of the others in the race. Still, I’ll give Sestak the benefit of the doubt for now.

After I finish adjusting all my charts to include him.

Bottom button is no longer green! Still doesn’t match her brand.

Marianne Williamson has changed up her button colors again, still not satisfied with having consistent branding. Her frustration with the political machine is mounting:

Make no mistake about it, my friends. The aristocratic trend will continue until and unless we the people stand up for ourselves, reclaiming the revolutionary spirit of 1776 and saying “Hell No!” to tyranny of any kind — economic or otherwise.

It’s not that I want to go to Washington and fight for you, because I don’t. I want to go to Washington and co-create with you. I want to help usher in an era when the well-being of people, and not the short-term profits of huge multi-national corporations, determine the direction of our public policies.


I suppose we should see the fact that they’re after me — calling me woo woo, even dangerous! — as a sign that we’re getting through to someone. It feels like the “First they ignore you…” phase might be over.

-Marianne Williamson

Her message and tone are shifting away from her previous peace and love words, but it seems to be in conflict with itself. Reclaim a revolutionary spirit but don’t fight? Her email started with a prayer she attended with the theme “Dear God, please make me a dangerous woman,” which she accepted as a true description of herself, but then implied accusations that she was dangerous were negative.

I still don’t know what to make of Williamson. I’m looking forward to seeing how she promotes herself on the debate stage this Thursday.

Finally, Steve Bullock sent a message of thanks. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t leave it at that.

Just as a apology that is followed by a “but” isn’t a good apology, an expression of gratitude followed by a plea for money isn’t a good way to say thank you. With 4 emails in 2 days, Bullock could have used one on just saying thank you with no further expectations. Of course, that would mean he’d need to see me as something more than potential $$$.

Speaking of $$$, the average ask is $18.59
You only get one chance for a first impression. Didn’t stop Ryan from trying 74 times.

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