The efforts to recall state Senator Robert Wirch serves as a good example. As I noted in a prior post, the organizers of the recall effort, who have operated on a shoestring budget with little outside help, obtained enough signatures as of a week ago to mandate a recall election.
I spoke this weekend with Dan Hunt of Recall Wirch, and the news has improved even more since then.
Recall Wirch has almost no budget, but has attracted protesters to its recall petition drives who attempt to intimidate both the signature collectors and voters. Recall Wirch, according to Hunt, has been reduced to trying to outfox the protesters by creating multiple locations to collect signatures and shifting efforts from location to location. According to Hunt:
"For instance, they started by trying to inhibit signature collection at our drive-thrus. They would show up at our locations in force and dare people to stop. They would shout and wave protest signs. Our volunteers were intimidated to do anything to counter them because we were badly outnumbered. We stopped this one Saturday morning. We had planned to be in two places on that Saturday morning. They knew exactly where we would be and planned to be in both places in overwhelming force. We then made them think that we had abandoned one of the locations and would only be in one place. They showed up in major numbers at the place they thought we would be except we weren't there either. We had sent our people to other locations without letting them know. They stayed for an hour and a half - forty to fifty people before they realized they had been fooled. That took the wind out of their sails for the rest of the campaign. After that we started thanking them for coming to our events because we realized they helped us by creating publicity and circus which actually drove our drive-thru numbers up.Despite the attempts to disrupt the petition drive, Recall Wirch has met with great success. The recall petitions in the Wirch district are not due until April 25, but as of this weekend Recall Wirch had collected several thousand signatures more than necessary.
There are countless ways we used their tactics against them. One was at our final drive-thru yesterday. We invited the demonstrators to come, thinking they really wouldn't. But they did. About 15 showed up. We had doughnuts and coffee waiting for them which I, as the leader of the recall effort, served to them thanking them for being there and for all they had done to help us achieve our goal. We had prizes planned for them for the best T-shirt, best protest sign and dog biscuits for the 2 German Shepherd mix dogs that were at many of our events. All of this for reverse psychological effect. And it worked! While most of them refused my hospitality one of the union leaders came to me as he was leaving several hours later and thanked me for the professional organization I was running. He told me that he respected me as a leader and especially our recall volunteers for how they conducted themselves in this process."