Having just finished one election cycle and beginning a new one, here are a few thoughts about elections, candidates and campaigns.
You can do everything right and lose.
I just finished working on Steve Kay’s campaign for a Lexington Council-at-Large seat. Steve lost by 2,000 votes even though he ran a text book perfect campaign. The Kay campaign had a good candidate, with credentials, well funded, with hundreds of volunteers and a consistent message “Stewardship”.
He was on TV, he did about 70 house parties, he showed up at forums, he knocked on doors yet he fell just short of beating Chuck Ellinger, a candidate with name recognition inherited from a father by the same name.
Ellinger’s main claim to fame was that he had perfect attendance at Council meetings. He never really talked about what he did with that perfect attendance.
The one lesson reinforced here is that name recognition is all important. That old line about newspapers is true. It really doesn’t matter what they say about you as long as they spell your name correctly.
The one thing I hope is that Steve Kay doesn’t give up on elective office. He would be an asset regardless of where he serves.
People are Tired of Mud Slinging
Maybe. The one race I watched that had used mud slinging effectively was the Kerr-Keller race for the Senate. Anyone who watched the race could see that Jim Keller had a better grasp of the issues. Alice Forgy Kerr is a nice lady, but as a Senator she is river a mile wide and an inch deep.
Anyway to back to mud slinging. Kerr ran "Alice the nice neighbor" spots on television, while the Republican slime machine hit Keller on radio. Alice just couldn’t control what those other people said --- puhleez….
I've heard a lot of people say they are turned off by negative ads, but I’m not convinced that negative ads don’t work.
One other thing from this race, you can’t sit on your butt and expect the voters to come to you. Even if you are a respected judge you need to humping like a law clerk trying to build a resume if you want to win.
The only sure thing for Democrats in south Lexington is that if you don’t work 10 times harder than your Republican opponent you are going to get beat.
Sometimes Losing Isn’t All Bad
Looking at the three competitive congressional races a couple of things resonate.
First, you can win as a liberal Democrat with no party support, like John Yarmuth. There is something to be said for actually being different from your opponent, which brings us to the second point.
Ken Lucas and Mike Weaver are conservative Democrats that both lost their races, respectively, to conservative Republicans Geoff Davis and Ron Lewis. On where they stand on the isssues there probably isn’t ten cents worth of difference between Lucas, Weaver, Davis and Lewis.
The only positive reason for Lucas and Weaver to be elected was to give control of the House of Representatives to the Democrats. This happened without them. The net result is that two conservative Republicans lost power and were not replaced by two conservative Democrats.
So losing isn’t all bad.