In a back-street Silver Spring office, among the rank-and-file of presidential politics, the media-controlled independent campaign of John B. Anderson is foundering on Haines directories.
The Haines directory is a listing of telephone numbers by street, rather than name. Anderson's campaign volunteers in Silver Spring use it because they cannot afford to buy voter registration lists for grassroots canvassing.There is no money to set up all the phones in one place, so there must be copies of the Haines to spread around.
The problem is that Anderson's staff, even in the most promising area of what should be a promising state, does not even have the $150 each Haines directory costs.
That is the story of Anderson in Maryland, beyond the campaign trail and the world of television. As the independent's strategists in Washington pump all but a fraction of the funds they have left into a last-ditch national media effort, what remains of the Anderson campaign in this state is an inexperienced organization stripped bare, waiting for national television to give its existence a purpose.
"Our job is to set up an organization to supplment the national media," said Jim Kennedy, Anderson's young Maryland campaign coordinator. "And we're waiting for the media to give us a boost that we have to have. The media campaign has got to do it for us, or winning here will be very difficult, if it's possible."
Kennedy says it is difficult to account accurately for expenses, but the Anderson campaign probably will spend less than $10,000 on creating and using a Maryland field organization. In suburban Maryland, the working budget for two counties is $800 a month. Though there are many volunteers in places like Montgomery County, other areas of the state, including much of Baltimore City, has no precinct captains or neighborhood organizers. Even regional coordinators come and go; one congressional district has been through two this fall, the third is looking for a new job.
This imperative of the Anderson campaign applies also, of course, to Republican Ronald Reagan and Democrat Jimmy Carter, who are spending most of the $29 million they receive in election funds for media advertising and leaving little for the field staffs in states like Maryland to divide.
Both Reagan and Carter have well-organized political parties behind them, however, and in Maryland, those local operatives are buying the trenchwork tools of phones and flyers and providing the manpower to use them. In contrast, Anderson's supporters, faced with the task of building an entire party in two months with no money and no help from established politicians, never have had a chance to compete.
"It's been getting more discouraging," said Hal Riedl, an Anderson coordinator for Balitmore and a medical researcher at John Hopkins University whose previous political experience came as a student canvasser in the 1968 campaign of Eugene McCarthy.
"I've had a lot of trouble getting real hard commitments from people here. Our organization is thin. I want to be a positive thinker and put my best foot forward, but I'm not going to beat my head against the wall. I can only hope that Carter or Reagan will do something to so discredit themselves that the undecided mood will start swinging."
Riedl is typical of the people who make up Anderson's spindly state organization. Lacking party ladder-climbing ambitions, Riedl decided to work for Anderson after he saw Walter Cronkite profile the candidate in the fall of 1979. Before he knew it, he was a leading coordinator of Anderson's petition drive to get on the Maryland ballot, and then, the appointed campaign chief ot he state's 7th Congressional District in Baltimore.
In the heady days of the summer drive, Riedl often spent 30 or 40 hours a week calling and door-knocking for his candidate. But he is a doctor, not a politician, and as Anderson sinks in the polls these final weeks, Riedl is tired.
"I've slacked off to 10 or 15 hours a week," he said. "The people in this area, if they vote, won't vote for Anderson unless something big happens on the national scene. I'm focusing now on trying to set up speaking appearances and an organization in selected districts that might vote for him."
All around Maryland, volunteers-turned-campaigners for Anderson are beginning to look back on the petition drive, or the heady night of the presidential debate last month in Baltimore, as the highlights of a low struggle that now has become a grim work of faith.
"I was really up for the debate; I was hoping for a dramatic change in the polls," said Tom Dawson, an Annapolis lawyer who is managing the 4th Congressional District. "A lot of us were hoping. We were disappointed. I guess we were probably unrealistic in our expectations."
In Montgomery County and Columbia, where the Anderson volunteers appear to have the most numbers and highest spirits, a sort of cut-and-paste version of a campaign is under way, relying heavily on the card files full of citizens who signed petitions last summer.
To complete the support-finding phone canvassing that is the first work of any organization, for example, Anderson's coordinator in Montgomery, Mary Saner, is hoping that each of about 350 volunteers will spend evenings at home calling 100 or more names out of the Haines directory, in lieu of the well-financed phone banks of the two parties.
In Prince George's County, much of Anderson's campaign will be propped up by about 100 University of Maryland students who have volunteered to take literature door-to-door in strategic towns.
Even these efforts are undercut, however, by the national campaign's insatiable thirst for media money, and the obligation of local supporters to raise it. The Montgomery office is devoting much of its energy to a $50 fund-raiser later this month that they hope will raise $15,000 for the national office. In Columbia, volunteers have put together six different fund-raising events to scrape toghether $1,500 more.
Very little of this money is saved for local activities. According to Anderson's state office, about 90 percent of the $100,000 raised for Anderson this year has gone to Washington for national media or media-connected campaigning.
"It's been disconcerting," said Dawson. "On the one hand you want to raise money and on the other hand you want people to volunteer. The two don't always dove-tail."
"We have to accept what we can do, with the financial problems the campaign has been having nationally," said Kennedy. "The fact is that people equate being elected president with television and ads on television, and that may be unfortunate but that's the way it is. We have to accept that and keep on fighting."