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San Mateo County Times (CA)

May 4, 2004
Section: Local & Regional News

Make $2 quick: Promise not to vote for candidate
Congressional hopeful makes unusual pitch to lure people to his Web site

   Justin Jouvenal, STAFF WRITER

First-time congressional candidate Brian Holtz is so confident in his message, he's putting a new spin on the age-old political tactic of buying votes: if you DON'T cast a ballot for him, he'll fork over $2. The long-shot libertarian, who is taking on incumbent Anna Eshoo, D-Atherton, this November, began making the unusual -- and possibly illegal -- bet on Monday.

The offer is simple: log on to Holtz's campaign Web site, take an 11-question multiple-choice quiz on his campaign positions, and if you still don't agree with Holtz, send him a self-addressed, stamped envelope, and he will return a crisp $2 bill. (He managed to find a bank that had 150 on hand).

"I was thinking how I can spend money and get people the message I want them to see," Holtz said. "I thought instead of paying an advertiser, why not pay the voter?"

Holtz, who gives himself little chance of beating Eshoo, plans to pay for the bet out of his own pocket, since his campaign has not raised any money. He's capping the amount he pays out at $5,000.

So what is Holtz's message?

Holtz describes himself as a fiscal conservative and social liberal believing the government should only enforce contracts, protect the people and perform other basic functions.

He straddles both ends of the political spectrum, but calls Democrats and Republicans the "two evils." Holtz is paying for "no" votes, but he believes both major parties have purchased their votes from special interests.

"I want the government to be the referee," Holtz said. "Democrats want the government to be the nanny and the Republicans want the government to be the chaperone."

Holtz is not entirely clear if the unusual bet is legal. Federal law forbids "payment for voting," but he believes he can make his offer legal by having bet winners sign a pledge not to vote for him.

The bet is earning Holtz the begrudging respect of his Republican opponent, Chris Haugen. With 98 percent of congressional incumbents winning re-election, both Holtz and Haugen will likely have to take some big gambles in November's race.

"It's kind of cute. That's a pretty quick $2," Haugen said of the bet. "We all are trying various things."

Holtz's offer is available on his Web site at

Staff Writer Justin Jouvenal can be reached at (650) 348-4331 or .

(c) 2004 San Mateo County Times. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.