Wednesday, November 24, 1999

Granny D walks nation for campaign finance reform




BY HOWARD WILKINSON
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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Doris Haddock, 89, crosses the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge on her coast-to-coast walk.
(Tony Jones photo)
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        Walking, they say, is good for the body. Even better, says Doris Haddock, for the body politic.

        The 89-year-old New Hampshire grandmother, known to her friends as “Granny D,” passed through Covington and Cincinnati Tuesday on her year-long, 3,055-mile hike from California to Washington, to call attention to an issue she is passionate about — campaign finance reform.

        “What is life for, if not to spend it in some worthy battles?” Ms. Haddock said as she marched across the Clay Wade Bailey bridge with a half-dozen local supporters straining to keep up.

        She started her journey last January in Pasadena, Calif., bringing up the rear in the Tournament of Roses parade, and has been hiking 10 miles a day, six days a week ever since.

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Ms. Haddock rests briefly on the bridge.
(AP photo)
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        A former secretary and shoe factory worker in her native New Hampshire, she said she had not been politically active until she got interested in the “influence of special interests in politics” a few years ago.

        “I talked to the senator from my state, Bob Smith, and he said people were too dumb to care about campaign finance reform,” the 5-foot-tall crusader said, resting for a minute on the Cincinnati side of the bridge.

        “Too dumb? He actually said that,” Ms. Haddock said. “I was so mad that I decided I was going to prove him wrong, and here I am.”

        Walking with Ms. Haddock were a number of Ohioans interested in campaign finance reform, including former Democratic council candidate Jane Anderson, Dell Heitkamp of the League of Women Voters and John Mitchel, the Reform Party's candidate for Ohio governor last year.

        Ms. Haddock said she decided to make a trek across America, knowing full well that because of her age, she'd attract attention. Common Cause, which advocates campaign finance reform, has been helping her along the way.

        Nick Palumbo, a Common Cause activist, has been traveling with Ms. Haddock much of the way. He leaves her sometimes to go scout out new routes for “Granny D” to walk.

        “Nick was gone for a few days in West Virginia, and I think he was afraid the terrain would be too rugged for me,” Ms. Haddock said. “He doesn't realize I've climbed mountains all my life. I grew up in mountains.”

        After spending the night in Covington and walking across the bridge, Ms. Haddock and her entourage made their way up Central Avenue to Cincinnati City Hall, where another two dozen supporters waited to see Councilman Jim Tarbell hand her a proclamation and hear “Granny D” speak.

        “We can't be content to go home and watch television while there is a democracy to be protected,” Ms. Haddock said. “We as Americans have to do a better job taking responsibility for our government and our politics.”

        Ms. Haddock has been urging Congress to pass the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform act, which suffered another defeat last month in Congress. And, wherever she goes, she urges people to get involved.

        “Agitate,” Ms. Haddock said. “Write letters. Call your congressman. Show up at public meetings and speak out. Make sure they know you don't want the special interests and their money to take over your democracy.”

        In Cincinnati, “Granny D” was met by a group of local reformers who hope to put a charter amendment on next year's general election ballot, which would call for a public financing system for Cincinnati City Council campaigns.

        Ms. Anderson said details of the plan are being worked out. Supporters are hoping to mount a petition drive at next March's primary election to get the issue on the ballot.

        “Having someone like Granny D come to town gives the whole effort locally a shot in the arm,” Ms. Anderson said. “It lifts people's spirits.”

       



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