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Notes from the Campaign Trail

Nov. 7, 2022

As I said, I participated in only one forum during the entire campaign. For various reasons, that forum was a total flop. What I believed would be the best way to set myself apart and to deliver my message failed. If there had been many forums, this wouldn’t have been so awful. There is no substitute for directly talking to people. Surprisingly or not, from my experience, these opportunities were rare.

I saw my promotional mission as two-fold: first, get recognized, become a name, slip onto the collective radar; two, once known, send the message. In all sincerity, my basic message was these three ideas: truth, justice, fairness. The question then became, what was the best way to do this?

At the beginning of the campaign, I rode in four parades in five weeks—Hot Springs, Custer, Edgemont, and my hometown, Hermosa. Who wants to see an old white guy riding in the back of an old convertible? No one, that’s who. Most of the children along the parade routes liked that I threw candy at them. I joked around with a few people as I rolled along. Some acknowledged my marijuana leaf and swan logo. There are worse things to do on a Saturday morning.

Was my time well spent participating in parades? I don’t know. I constantly did a cost-benefit analysis, time versus exposure, time versus money, time versus enjoyment. All in all, an hour parade was probably a pretty good bargain even if only a few people remembered me when it came time to vote. Except for the last parade in Hermosa, where, by the time I passed by, the children were indifferent to free candy, leaving some in the street, I had fun at the parades. The bigger question, would I do it again? I doubt it because they don’t matter, politically speaking—not when you are a nobody.

On the eve of election day, I’m thinking about what the most effective means of communication was. Because there is no way to measure that I can only guess. The results of the election, even, won’t be much of a measure. Here are some impressions of what worked; later I will discuss what was a waste of time and money.

While I have no clue about their efficacy, I liked writing and recording my radio ads. In the end I created ten 30-second spots that ran on a variety of stations in the area. The fact that I could afford the spots and that they reached a large audience also made them very appealing. My radio liaison, Mike Fell, helped me a great deal. Without his input and enthusiasm, the radio experience would not have been as rewarding.

Facebook and my campaign website afforded me creative control, which I wanted, but they didn’t have the reach and immediacy of radio. Like anyone, I like likes. To post about the campaign and to received prompt feedback was great. The fact that I only have seven followers somewhat tainted that. I always felt pressure to post and mostly resisted that pressure. I posted when inclined, when the mood struck me, which was as haphazard as it sounds. I should have kept a schedule and thought more about posts in advance.

Recalling my decision-making process over the campaign, I would say that I lucked into radio and social media. I listened to those who had run for office, including my wife, and I’m glad I did. Again, though I have no measurable evidence of how effective these types of media were, I liked working with them. All the other methods of campaign promotion I am gravely suspect of.

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