Viral-video Alabama candidate: ‘I give a rip’

Katie McHugh Associate Editor
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Dale Peterson, the candidate for Alabama Agricultural Commissioner who starred in the “We Are Better Than That!” viral campaign ad, re-entered the political fray with the launch of his “I Give a Rip About America” PAC.

“Our purpose is to elect conservative, God-fearing, family-valued, business-minded candidates who believe in the Constitution,” the PAC’s website declares, prominently featuring the ad that first pushed Peterson onto the national stage.

Peterson formed the I Give a Rip About America after traveling to colleges and working with the Leadership Institute. He plans to steer funding to grassroots candidates, who, like him, “think all politicians are crooked.”

“Now that I’m in politics, I can confirm that,” said Peterson. “I am sick and tired of professional politicians.”

He has no qualms about accepting corporate donations. “As many [dollars as] they want to put on that check is fine with me,” he said.

According to Peterson, political change starts with constables, sheriffs, state circuit clerks, and other positions at the state and county level. Although his PAC will invest significantly in candidates at the local level, Peterson is also eying the national field and looking to shake up Washington.

“In the bottom level, you work hard to make everything work. The federal level is where you work hard to make everything stop working,” he said.

Wielding influence in national elections can be difficult, however. Cleta Mitchell, a major GOP lawyer and partner of the firm Foley & Lardner LLP, says the power a PAC has depends upon the money raised and they way it’s spent.

“No money, no influence,” Mitchell said, adding, “Some PACs raise it but don’t do anything with it.” (Exclusive interview with Alabama ag commish candidate Dale Peterson: ‘I’m not going away’)

Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture John McMillan, a friend of Peterson’s, agrees that the PAC’s influence will depend on how Peterson rallies his supporters and raises the money.

Peterson will have to distinguish himself from the herd if he wants his PAC to succeed. “PACs are a dime a dozen,” said McMillan.

Peterson, who says he has never met a lawyer or politician who could run a business, is looking for “not necessarily young blood, but different blood” to run for office, adding that he prefers to fundraise for “older blood because they’ve had careers and because they care about family.”

“The hardest thing is to convince them to step up to the plate,” adds Peterson. “There’s not a man or woman alive that doesn’t have something in their past that they’re not proud of. And the other side will make sure the people will hear about it.”

Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain caught Peterson’s attention — and his endorsement for the presidency — since he believes Cain is running “for the right reasons.”

“I’m just trying to do my part,” said Peterson. “If there’s a whole pack of Dale Petersons out there, we can change something.”