Saturday, March 29, 2014

What we talk about when we talk about viability

Here's a dirty little secret of the campaign world. Specifically of those who endorse candidates for elective office.

They will send you questionnaires by the boatload. They will grill you on your positions on all the issues they care about. They will ask about your background and experience and judge how well you present yourself. They may tell you they are mightily impressed with your credentials.

Then they will ask about your viability. That's Viability, spelled M-O-N-E-Y. Yes, money is what they want to know about. How much of it do you have? How much can you raise? And how much do you need to win your election.

If the equation comes out lopsided, that is you don't have enough, or as much as the other guy, they are likely to decide your candidacy is not viable. Say bye bye to that endorsement you know you were most suited to receive.

And you thought it was all about qualifications to do the job, integrity and a willingness to work hard.

Sorry, Charlie, it's all about the money. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. If the key organizations don't endorse you because you don't have the money, you can't get the money from those who are waiting to see what the endorsers do. 

Nobody wants to back a loser, and they're not willing to take a chance on you by helping your campaign get off the ground with their endorsement and the contribution that usually goes with it.

And so it goes. This is how we get second rate candidates in office, who are beholden to special interests. They take the money from all and sundry, thereby looking "viable" to the endorsers.

They get the endorsement. They win the race, and then people are surprised when those they elected get caught in messy "pay to play" schemes, and are forced to leave their positions prematurely to "spend more time with their families."

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

When the Candidate asks

If you are running for election, you are the best person to ask people for money for your campaign. In fact, people expect it. They want to hear from you directly, at least at first. Someone else can do follow up and close the deal, if you'd laid a firm foundation. But you will be amazed at the difference an "ask" from the candidate can make to the bottom line.

Just the other day I got a personal call from our insurance Commissioner, Dave Jones, asking if I'd sponsor an even he was having for his re-election campaign. I am a seasoned campaigner and immune to being barraged by candidates and their surrogates. But this time, because he is someone I admire, and because he asked personally, I said "yes," sent him a check, and then never went to the event.

If one of his staff or a volunteer had called, I'd probably have said no, I can't afford it, I have too many other causes to support. It is just harder to say no to the candidate. And guess what, it's flattering too, to know they care enough to make a personal call, and know something about the person they are calling.Try it; you'll like it!