Campaigns & Elections' Politics - February 2008 - (Page 46)
Ask The Campaign Doc Craig Varoga The High Road Dr. Richard Land Don’t Want to Get Gotcha’d? Study up. Q: Do you have suggestions on how our candidate can best handle “gotcha” questions? We’re preparing for candidate forums leading up to the primary. A: Most “gotcha” questions center on in- Careful HowYou Float That Resume Q: What do you think about a journalist using damaging information about a campaign that was supplied by a rival campaign, without reporting the source of the information? A: As long as the information is veriﬁed by more than that one source, it isn’t wrong. I don’t believe the reporter is ethically required to reveal their source, even if it is another campaign, assuming the information is accurate and was independently veriﬁed. This is a case where normal journalistic ethics apply. Unsubstantiated rumors, of course, shouldn’t be published anywhere. Q: If you’re on a campaign that seems to be headed nowhere, is it okay to start quiet negotiations with another campaign, in the event you’ll soon need a job? A: No, not unless you inform the campaign ahead of time that you are doing it. The Golden Rule applies here: Do unto others as you would want done to you. If you were to put yourself in the place of that candidate, you wouldn’t want surprises like someone suddenly leaving the campaign without warning. The other option is to inform your supervisor and say, “I’m not independently wealthy, so I have started to quietly put out my resume just in case.” Or ask if it would be okay to do so. Either way, there is an ethical obligation to inform. Dr. Richard Land has served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission since 1988. consistencies in candidates’ statements, their ability to relate to voters and their competence to serve in public ofﬁce. For inconsistencies, be prepared to deal with ﬂip-ﬂops, problematic supporters, off-message contributors and occupational practices that contradict the campaign platform. (Obviously avoid “I voted for it before I voted against it.”) To show you can relate to voters, know the prices of everyday items (loaf of bread, gallon of milk, gasoline), major employers in the district, population numbers, schools and locally popular sports information. (Beware, for example, of appearing incredulous when shown an electronic scanner at a grocery checkout counter if you have told voters you understand the economic realities gripping their daily lives.) To prove competence, be familiar with tax rates, government agencies and what the candidate would do on the ﬁrst day in ofﬁce. (If running for state treasurer, it would be a good idea to know the state’s bond rating, recent budget ﬁgures and the ﬁduciary role played by the treasurer.) Q: What are the typical residency requirements for running for ofﬁce? A: Residency requirements and ballot-access atic if a candidate has voted or claimed a homestead exemption elsewhere, sent his or her children to schools outside the jurisdiction or—here’s a standard ruse—rented an unoccupied apartment inside the district while maintaining a real (and always nicer) home outside the election boundaries. For more information, check out the National Association of Secretaries of State (www.nass.org), Ballot Access News (www. ballot-access.org) and—for a more ideologically driven perspective—the Coalition For Free and Open Elections (www.cofoe.org). Q: We need some pointers on managing our fundraising lists. We are under the gun to get started, so it would be helpful to know what we should do right off the bat. A: When lists don’t work, it’s a No matter how you cut it, that proﬁle is longhand for “Fire me.” laws differ greatly by state. To the extent that there are “typical” requirements, they include voter registration and residency (either home ownership or rental) inside the state or jurisdiction within a speciﬁed time period, such as six months, one year or ﬁve years. Needless to say, it’s problem46 Politics two-fold problem. One, campaigns don’t meet fundraising goals and that’s a dead-end experience (no money, no strategy, no win). And two, bad lists can cause embarrassments (letters to opponents, inadvertent but still illegal calls to government ofﬁces, solicitations to scandal-tarred ﬁgures). Good list-management software will allow you to dump outside lists into a common database; sift and sort based on donor history and response activity; cut into separate mail, phone and e-mail lists; keep records of all exchanges; and follow up in a timely manner. Ask your fundraising consultant to suggest several options for list-management software. If he or she balks at doing so, they oversold their competence. Q: Is it a good idea to prohibit staff from using MySpace? A: Don’t know how you could, First Amend- themselves are now actively using Facebook, MySpace and other social-utility tools to promote candidates. Still, you should explain the dangers of indiscreet online proﬁles (embarrass the candidate, humiliate yourself, lose your job)—as in the real-world case of a campaign staffer who explained his afterhours daydream: “If I could go anywhere in the world it’d be on a desert island with marijuana seeds to plant, my music and my dog. I like peace, I like getting away from it all: getting high and chillin.” No matter how you cut it, that proﬁle is longhand for “Fire me.” Craig Varoga is a partner at Independent Strategies (www.IndependentStrategies.com.) E-mail questions to cvaroga@IndependentStrategies.com. ment and all, never mind that campaigns February 2008
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Campaigns & Elections' Politics - February 2008
Campaigns & Elections' Politics - February 2008
What Happens When a Radio Station Opens Its Microphones to Everyone Running For President?
They're Baaaaack: Return of the '06 Ballot Measures
She's Got Their Vote: Ann Romney Has a Winning Message of Her Own
Movers & Shakers: Anita Dunn
What It's Like to Be: Robert Traynham
I Was a Political Hitman
Which Party Will Hispanics Call Home?
Reds & Blues: States in the Spotlight
High Road/Campaign Doc
Coming & Going: Who's Where
Quips & Slips
Campaigns & Elections' Politics - February 2008