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Campaign Chronicles Part I

Wednesday, February 27, 2008
As requested, I will be posting periodically on the progress of the local campaign I'm running. Here's an excerpt from my previous post, just to refresh your memory:

...one woman ("S") and one man ("W") are incumbents, which means in the eyes of many people, the race will be between my male candidate (call him G) and the other nonincumbent female candidate (call her J). I don't really know J, but I can count: there's a very strong women's political organization here, and Democratic primaries are usually overwhelming female. So if it's a straight-up contest that falls along gender lines, we lose. Which means I'll have to focus on defeating the incumbent man, W (no relation to Bush!), who is about 80 years old and whom no one thought was seeking another term. Frankly I'd much rather try to defeat an old man who doesn't campaign much than a woman who's been involved in local campaigns for years. I'm going to have to hope that my candidate, G, can out-campaign and win over women by avoiding the impression he's running against J - all without going negative on W. Very tricky.

There were quite a few surprises on filing day. The incumbent woman, S, decided at the last moment not to run for re-election, choosing instead to run for another (higher) office. For about an hour I thought I had an uncontested primary of W, J, and my candidate, G. Then things got even weirder, as THREE OTHER CANDIDATES filed at the last minute. Wacky! I don't know how serious they are. One of them, B, has a background in radio. If he decides to run a real race, things could get very interesting. Lucky for me he has never done any work for the party, although he is well thought of and has pretty good name recognition. Also B announced without talking to anybody else first, so the party leaders are kind of hacked off at him. Which makes me happy.

Contrary to my expectations, there is only one woman (J) in the race. G has worked for a number of woman candidates, so I hope that he can get some support there, which will be essential. I finally got the chance to talk to J. She seems like a nice person, and has some experience in local politics, but she really needs to work on her public presentation. She looks and talks like a little bit of a crazy lefty. Now don't get me wrong - I have real soft spot for crazy lefties. But it's important not to seem like one.

G's campaigning skills are coming along. I've been trying to teach him how to write political speeches and press releases, but it's very hard going. G has done a lot of technical writing, so whenever I send him something he tries to make it twice as long and full of detail. I love that he likes substance, but it's been a chore convincing him that it doesn't matter if he knows what he wants if he can't communicate it to the voters.

We organized a campaign kick-off the other day, and it went pretty well. There were about 20 people, which is pretty good for this kind of event. We even got the event mentioned in the paper, which would have made it a victory even if no one had showed up. At the last minute G added some stuff to the speech, which predictably ruined the flow. Even he realized it though, so I think he won't try it again.

The good news is that we're way ahead of all of the other campaigns. We already have our signs ordered and some decent literature printed, have had our first public event, issued our first two press releases, and have a rough stump speech ready. The weather has been so awful we haven't been able to go door to door yet, and the fundraising isn't where I'd like it to be (candidates sure do hate having to call people asking for money), but other than that I'm fairly pleased with where things are. I don't know if we're going to win (although I'd say our odds are at least 50-50), but I do know that nobody is going to out-work us.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 12:22 PM
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