Thursday, August 20, 2015

Facing Incumbents in Down Ticket Races

A candidate comes to me and asks about helping in his campaign for School Board in a mid sized district. There are four incumbents, all of them running. He is one of two challengers. He is clearly qualified and knows the issues. "Tell me," I ask, "Do you have any idea what kind of budget you are looking at in this race?"

"People tell me about $2000, to buy signs," he answers. Yikes. After I give him the Signs Don't Vote spiel, I explain a little bit about running against incumbents, how you have to convince the voter to fire them and hire you. "It's a several month long job interview," I explain. Then, "I think you'll need a little bit more than that."

Because I'm a meticulous campaigner, I gather up the financial disclosures in recent elections. He's right, that no one has spent more than $2000 since 2007. But guess what? Only incumbents have won since then. Two of the incumbents he is facing have been there for more than 20 years, the other two for 8 and 10 years.

The last big contested race was in 2005, when a candidate who I happened to work for spent $34,000 to oust an incumbent. Another person on that ticket running in an open seat spent $10,000.

Right now, I am working on a proposal for his campaign, along with a budget. Will he go for it? Will he hire a consultant to help him craft the message he must get into voters' hands? Will he be willing to raise and spend the money it will take to unseat an incumbent?

Or will he take his first friend's advice, buy some signs and hope for the best? Well, you know what I think. Let's see how this one plays out.

In the meantime, here's a hearty, healthy Back to School breakfast recipe for students and candidates alike:

Whole Wheat Pancakes
  • 1 cup whole wheat
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoon sugar or honey 
  1. Put 1 cup wheat & 1 cup milk in blender for 3 minutes.
  2. After first 3 minutes add an additional 1/2 cup milk.
  3. Blend for additional 2 minutes.
  4. Add 1/2 cup oil, 1 Tbsp baking powder, 2 eggs, 1/2 t salt and 2 Tbsp sugar to blender until mixed.
  5. Pour onto skillet (size that you want pancakes to be), cook on medium.
  6. Makes 12 pancakes.