I was never very political when I was young, tho I think I was on my high school student council because I needed more activities for college.I did well academically in high school and was a swimmer but Yale had such a good swimming team, Steve Clark and other Olympians, that Princeton was my first choice.But Yale had seen that no Jewish boy had a good recommendation from the alumni rep in 10 years and wanted to dispel that anti-semitic pattern so they approached my dad and told him I’d get in if I applied so dad told me to apply to Yale but wouldn’t tell me why, so I applied and got in and don’t regret it; it was a wonderful experience tho women weren’t admitted there yet.I applied to London School of Economics and Manchester University and wanted to go before law school but my draft board said they would draft me instead of giving me a law school deferment. I told my dad I was willing to take that risk, but he was paying for it and he wouldn’t, so I had my first year at Harvard Law and didn’t do very well, so I withdrew and did three years as a Vista Volunteer doing community organizing in Chicago and Detroit. Dr. King was killed my second day in Chicago, and the west side went up in flames; rocks were thrown through the windows of the white owned grocery store we were in the next morning, so we lay on the floor of a taxi driven by a black vista and were moved to the north side where we organized the winos, as we said. Definitely a baptism by fire. Bobby Kennedy was killed a few months later. It was a sad summer. That was my introduction to politics and urban issues, tho I must have had an interest in politics to go in in the first place. I gave up my law firm deferment to go in. I don’t regret that experience of course, tho feel bad for those who went to war and died; one in my class from Yale died in Vietnam. If I had it to do over again I might have enlisted; I believed in the war; the main reason I didn’t is because I liked women and didn’t think they had singles bars in Vietnam. I guess I was wrong, but professionals may not count, and pretty sure they didn’t make house calls to the forests and rice patties. So I’ll take the experience I had which gave me an interest in government and politics that lasts until this day.
I had a couple of strange experiences before I left law school (I started my second year but dropped out my first semester, then went back and finished after my three years in Vista from 1968-1970). First, before I dropped out, I told my Uncle I was going to be President one day and I had ever been political; and I never did drugs, nor alcohol until I was 30. An epiphany? I didn’t remember it until almost 15 years later when decided to run for public office the first time. Prescient? Silly? Prophecy? Who knows, just that’s that what I decided eventually maybe that’s what I wanted. That ship’s probably set sail. But who knows God’s plan?
Second, said I was going to have 10 kids and 10 dogs. Ok, that first part’s a little nuts. Have one great son. And have had 3 dogs, 2 in heaven and one still here, and 19 cats or so, 17 in heaven. So that part seems to have had some truth.
The third thing is more interesting. When went back to law school, decided I would be a rich corporate lawyer for 20 years and then run for the Senate or something. Well that can’t be done (except for Bill Bradley and he was a Knick not a lawyer), and I certainly didn’t do it. But here it is 40+ years later or so and I plan to run for the US Senate in 2016, so it’s fair to say I’m only 20+ years behind my life’s plan. Except for the rich part, of course.So how did I get from Harvard Law School (1972) to here. I’ll try to be brief. Briefer. Good luck with that.After a couple years of law practice in Cleveland, Ohio, I decided that was emotionally unfulfilling, so I took a year off to find myself, bought a motorcycle and went around the country.While in New Orleans, a friend of mine from Harvard Law set me up with an interview with then Mayor Moon Landrieu, who offered me a position in the Public Housing Department.
But I went back to Cleveland, started working in campaigns, worked in Dennis Kucinich’s when he won for Mayor in 1977 (since became Congressman and Presidential candidate and is now not in office), ran for Cleveland School Board in 1981, City Council in 1988, moved to St. Louis later that same year, won my first elective office for St. Louis Elected School Board in 1997 (again in 2001 and 2010), 16 years after I first ran for office, so it’s good to stay with your dreams, and there’s some symmetry there.
Have since won the Democratic nomination of US Congress from Missouri’s 2nd
District in 2008 (outspent $350,000 to $15,000 by the other 4 candidates, who had support of unions and party; all I got was 50% more votes then any other candidate), lost to Akin in the General, lost to him again in 2010, and was third out of 8 candidates in the Democratic Primary for Missouri Lieutenant Governor in 2012, 12% statewide, not far from second, tho Susan Montee won with 49% of the vote. All the other candidates were current or former elected officials, three of them state reps, and most had $200,000. I spent $25,000. Oh, well, it’s often about money.
I’ve also lost for Mayor of St. Louis 4 times over the years, and three times for state representative, and a smattering of other offices (Congress in 2010, Alderman 2003, Circuit Attorney 1992).
I’m running for State Representative again in 2014, the same district more or less that I lost for in 2002 and 2006. I’m the underdog but I have a chance, I believe.
And I’m planning to, or thinking of, running in the Democratic Primary for US Senate in 2016 to oppose Roy Blunt. I have a three step plan to win: win a big lottery, steal the Primary, steal the General. I might be able to win it without step one, but it wont be pretty.
I know where I want to go, but will go where God takes me.
I believe I have some gifts for public service; if I do, they’re God’s gifts and mine to squander
We’ll see what Her plan is for me.
I hope you’ll wish me well.
Sincerely, Bill Haas