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Notes from the Campaign Trail

I should have and probably will post my all my earlier entries. If I had been quicker to create a website, I would not have to do this backtracking. Obviously. This brings up actions I would have taken earlier if I had known then what I know now. In hindsight there is a lot I would have done differently, but I’m not sure in what order I would have done them.

Throughout the campaign I compared what I did to what happened to Jackie during her campaign a decade ago. The biggest difference between hers and mine, I believe, was that she had a team, including an experienced campaign manager, in place from the outset. Her campaign manager, Jane Murphy, knew what she was doing, which meant Jackie could concentrate on issues and conveying those issues. Jane told Jackie where to be and when to be there; she also attended almost every event to support her candidate.

My campaign manager, in high-def contrast, was ignorant and incompetent, if well-meaning. This guy drove me mad every single day of the campaign. There wasn’t a day that I didn’t yell at him multiple times. His work ethic was suspect, his judgement questionable, and too often he simply refused to listen. Of course, he was me. I became my own campaign manager by default. I weakly attempted to convince a couple of people to assume the position; wisely, they declined. The number one piece of advice I would give to someone running for office: get a campaign manager.

In addition to a campaign manager, Jackie enlisted an experienced IT/graphic arts person to handle all the digital media communication, at least as important as the in-person events and traditional media promotion. Even if you have internet and design skills, this requires a great deal of time. An adept social media person increases efficiency and reduces stress. I had to depend on too many outsiders, including a daughter and a contract professional, to get a minimal number of promotional materials created. My logo, a swan atop a marijuana leaf, is distinctive and memorable. I’m biased, mind you, but it has been a hit. It’s great. That said, it took too long to develop. Everything I did took too long.

In the dysfunctional American election environment money is all-important. Though I understood this, I denied it. When I received my first donor check, I was both exceedingly grateful and overwhelmingly embarrassed. If you want to play the game as it is now—unless you want to spend your own money—you must fundraise, the earlier the better. I hated fundraising. Necessary evil—yadda yadda—you still must do it. I simply put it off too long.

With a little more than a week to go until election day I am assessing what worked and what I might have done differently. From the beginning, I said that I needed to be distinctive, that if I behaved like a typical candidate I would be destined to failure. I needed to learn from what my predecessors had done. Many if not all ran excellent, thoughtful, well-funded campaigns—and lost big. If I’d had campaign manager and a media manager, they couldn’t save a campaign that wasn’t different enough.

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