From his beloved Horton Bay in the northwest Lower Peninsula of Michigan, GT Long has penned a political memoir entitled “A Distant Rumble — The Unnoticed, Unreported World of Grassroots Politics.”
It’s a hoot — an absorbing, funny page-turner of only 122 pages divided into a Prologue and some three and a half-dozen very brief chapters, from which readers will learn a lot. You won’t want to put it down. The chapter on “Kidnapping Ted Kennedy” alone is worth the modest $12 book price.
Long’s base of operations in the small village of Horton Bay (pop. less than 50) is located in the southwest corner of Bay Township, on the shores of Lake Charlevoix. Boyne City is only six miles away, the city of Charlevoix about 10 miles distant. Horton Bay was the setting for some of Ernest Hemingway’s early short stories, including “The End of Something.”
As reported recently by Sean Miller of The Petoskey News-Review, “A Distant Rumble” is a tome that Long takes pride in because it’s “not a tell-all book slamming a politician.” Rather, it’s a series of stories told through Long’s perspective working on multiple political campaigns over the last four decades.
Stories of grassroots politics, going door to door, and using fortune cookies to campaign are all shared throughout the book, giving readers a deeper insight into campaigning without a political agenda.
“Every damn book about politics today is either about Donald Trump or is used as a way to slam someone,” says Long. “This one is filled with stories I’ve been telling in bars for years. They’re some really funny and crazy stories that I think people will really enjoy and may even find useful.”
As journalist Miller notes, the book opens with a kind of “how-to” guide into running for office and is followed by story after story of Long’s time working in politics.
Long — who is known in his neck of the woods for his love of Horton Bay and its community events — got into politics in 1972 when he first got out of the Air Force. He was going to college and worked for a campaign in Sault Ste. Marie that set the tone for the rest of his political career.
Over the years, Long worked on so many campaigns it makes your head spin. He shares stories from many of these campaigns in his book.
“The stories are all true. I did use some aliases and changed the name of a few places to save people from embarrassment, but all of the stories are true,” he says.
The book is about the many different aspects of running a campaign, some with a humorous twist. Some of the stories may be sad and poignant but, at its heart, Long says the book is about the people behind grassroots campaigns and the little details — like changing one’s opinion on something — that can make or break a campaign.
“I hope when people read this book they really get an insight into what politics is outside of CNN or FOX,” he said. “I think it would also be great for political science majors and classes because you can have conversations about each little story, but the book is really for those looking for a fun read about politics and what it really is.”
Long has a number of other self-published books — a trilogy through Embassy Paperbacks on “Sundays in Horton Bay,” for example– which are all available for purchase at www.lulu.com.
The Ballenger Report asked Long a number of questions relevant to what’s going on in Michigan politics right now.
Question 1): What’s “GT” stand for, anyway?
LONG: Gregory Thomas.
Question 2): What campaigns did you work on?
LONG: The list is extensive. I have been hired by two Speakers of the House (Gary Owen and Lew Dodak) and four Democratic party chairmen (Gary Corbin, Mark Brewer, Lon Johnson, and Brandon Dillon). During that time I was on loan to numerous campaigns both as a manager, field director, or just to help. I often taught campaign seminars all over Michigan for Democrats.
Question 3): How about specific candidates and officeholders?
LONG: This is a list of the folks I worked for: U.S. Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow; U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak; state Senators Mitch Irwin, Mark Schauer, and Mike Prusi; state Reps. Pat Gagliardi, Gary McDowell, Lon Johnson, Rich Brown, Paul Tesanovich, Mike Lahti, Dave Anthony, Doug Bovin, Andy Neumann, Dan Scripps, Matt Gillard, Dale Sheltrown, and Judy Nerat, plus Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel.
Question 4): Anything outside of Michigan?
LONG: I also worked for NDI ( National Democratic Institute) in Russia, helping train 110 Russian mayors to re-elect Boris Yeltsin. In 1992 and 1994, I myself ran for State Representative in the old 106th district but lost close races. My last campaign was in 2020 working for Mike Bloomberg for President.