Jerry. You, too, Russ. Can we talk? Thanks. It’s
been a while.
up, fellas. This is the dangerous time of year for a
campaign. This is when campaigns get out of control,
when they get away from you. It is a cruel irony
that this also happens to be the time when the
voters begin, finally, to dial into what you’re
saying and doing.
been jotting down a few pointers on how to navigate
the pitfalls of this dangerous season, or at least
how to lessen the probability of falling victim to
it. I thought they might come in handy.
Enough with the nastiness. Look, everything you’ve
done heretofore—all the money you’ve spent, the
gaffes you’ve made, the accusations you’ve
hurled—and those you’ve ducked—doesn’t
matter now. Nobody was listening. What happens from
here on in does matter. People are listening. And
watching. Be nice. Especially to each other. I know
it seems counter-intuitive, but find something good
to say about your opponent. Voters equate that with
good sportsmanship. Voters have an affinity for this
sort of thing. You cannot be perceived as being
mean, nasty and ill-tempered and be elected governor
Caution your staffs. Better yet, just get rid of
them. Keep a driver and somebody to answer the phone
and take messages. Get rid of the rest of them.
They’re just gypsies, part of that
twenty-something sub-culture of camp followers who
thrive on the adrenaline highs of campaigns. They
don’t know Virginia. Most of them couldn’t find
Virginia with a map. The day after this is over,
they’ll be looking to hook into another meal
ticket somewhere. Give them an early start. Get rid
of them. You don’t need them. What do you need a
‘spokesman’ for? These neophytes will just get
you in trouble this time of year. This is the time
of year when stuff that usually wouldn’t make it
off the cutting room floor will flare into Pearl
Harbor headlines and haunt you for days. (Ask Brad
Marrs.) Keep them on the payroll if you must, but
send them to Indiana until this is over. At the very
least, lock them up in the romper room and keep the
duct tape handy.
Same thing with the consultants and the pollsters.
Their primary purpose in life is to make you say or
think or do things you don’t believe, things you
know damn well you shouldn’t say or think or do.
It is how they justify the bucks you pay them. You
wouldn’t think they were worth
five-figures-a-month if they did otherwise, but in
this search for the winner’s circle, this is the
time of year they will hand false maps to you. Put
them on that bus leaving for Indiana.
Beware the coat-holders. This is the season they all
come out, good, earnest, well-meaning folks who are
more than glad to hold your coat while you get in
the ring and get your nose rearranged over one
lame-brained idea or another. Look out for the
Tell us what you are for. We don’t want to know
what you are against. We’re not interested. We
want to know what you are for.
Pet on your families. They’ve taken a load of crap
for—and probably from—you by now. Pet on them.
Let them know you haven’t forgotten. Do that now
and they might still be there when this is over.
Take a day off now and then. The universe is not
going to realign itself if you skip a rubber-egg
breakfast once is a while. Switch off with your
driver sometime. It won’t kill you to learn how to
drive your own car again.
Same thing with the phone. Shock your entourage and
answer it yourself now and then. It won’t kill
Speak kindly to your dog when you get home at night.
By now he’s thinking about biting you the first
chance he gets. A kind word will banish those
thoughts and make him wag his tail again.
Tell us who you are, what you believe, how you will
govern Virginia . Tell us you will work hard.
Tell us you will do the best you can. That’s all
August 23, 2005