BANGOR, Maine — The Maine Heritage Policy Center, a conservative think tank based in Portland, held an activist workshop at Husson University on Wednesday to give participants tools they need to run a grass-roots political campaign.
The workshop was the third the center held this year in partnership with Americans for Prosperity Maine, an organization dedicated to educating the public on issues, and Sen. Carol Weston, R-Montville. The two-hour workshop focused on ways to reach elected officials, letters to the editor, new media and rallies, among other aspects of a campaign.
“It’s to help provide the next step so that people can move from rallies to getting more engaged in the political process,” said Trevor Bragdon, state director for Americans for Prosperity.
“Our goal is to go all around the state and train 1,000 people by the year’s end,” he said.
The workshop drew 69 people and will be followed next week by one in Presque Isle and another in Dover-Foxcroft on Aug. 4. The center and Americans for Prosperity plan to hold one in every county before Election Day in November.
“If you have the right tools, wow. You can do a whole lot more than you thought you could,” Weston said while introducing the workshop.
Weston is in her final term as a legislator and has been assisting the center and Americans for Prosperity in their efforts to reach out to voters before Nov. 3.
During the workshop, Bragdon touched on building a campaign’s political framework, how to define its goals and targeting an audience.
Contacting state legislators and other elected officials can be tough, Bragdon said, and sometimes can take as many as seven tries before the message receives attention. But writing, calling and visiting such officials, and being personal and persistent, pays off.
“The more personalized, the better” the message, he said.
Weston added, “Any legislator, in any meeting, will tell you that if they get a handwritten letter they will open it, they will read it.”
“A lot of times, what dictates their vote is anecdote,” Bragdon said. “Because they don’t have a lot of time.”
The workshop also focused on YouTube videos, engaging the press and the opposition, organizing and attending rallies and protests, and press releases.
The two previous events, held in Belfast and Union, drew crowds of 75 and 72, respectively.