Aargh! How to make sure you never work in a Democratic campaign again

Aargh! How to make sure you never work in a Democratic campaign again

July 17, 2022 0 By Ellen Novack

Private conversations are private conversations

x

In this case, someone not directly aligned with the campaign got into a Twitter spat with other users. In order to show how connected they were, they published private conversations to show that they had the candidate’s ear. Sergio hits the nail on the head: One of the quickest way to never be used by a campaign at all is to share inside information. Now, Sergio offers qualifiers I would not offer—it doesn’t matter if you share them because you are having a beef, or any other reason. Displaying private communication in public is a sin so grave that a campaign should, and will, cut you off from future information. 

Campaigns have many levels of information. In senior staff positions, you often have a campaign manager, finance director, communications director, and field director. Below them, other spots may be open. Campaigns are obviously much bigger with volunteers, extra staff, outside consultants, and others filling in holes to support the candidate.

All of these individuals will have levels of contact with the candidate. Beyond that, most candidates develop a “kitchen cabinet,” a group of individuals they trust who are not paid for by the campaign. The candidate solicits them for thoughts, or just to decompress. This can range from college friends to people who have run for office before. 

The information you receive is for you, not for the world. You will do immediate damage to the campaign and yourself sharing that information. You do not make yourself look well connected,  you make yourself look desperate.

You don’t need to announce your involvement and demand praise for a campaign

About 10 years ago, I was confronted with a strange situation. I was working on a congressional campaign after having spoken to the candidate and DCCC. Shortly thereafter, someone not affiliated with the campaign asked me to lay out a list of all of the campaigns I, or others I knew, had done service work for, so they could “make calls.”

While I had no problem discussing this matter with the candidate, who was more than happy with the word from DCCC and prior campaigns, I felt no obligation—none—to ever discuss work done on any other campaign. Some roles within a campaign are easy to discover. Campaign managers, field directors, and others can and will appear within a finance report. If you were asked to be part of a kitchen cabinet, worked with a consulting company, or in many other capacities, your role in any campaign is between you and the candidate.

The candidate by law discloses expenses. Consulting groups, which can do things like write email, review postal mail pieces, design TV ads, logos, graphic art, etc., do not go around yelling about their work. Doing so only harms a candidate and their own reputation later. Not everyone will like even the best work product. Even the best potential mail piece or email is going to antagonize someone. 

It is rude to start yelling, “Did you hear that speech today? I wrote that line! I wrote that line!” I don’t care what role you had in helping to put together the text, it is always the candidate themselves who has final control over what they choose to say, and you need to remember that every time you talk beyond the campaign.

If you are part of any campaign effort, do not ever claim credit for campaign work unless the campaign themselves have offered it to you. Your discretion speaks volumes to a campaign about your ability to be trusted. 

I won this campaign!

No, no you didn’t. I don’t care how great your field plan was in action. It does not matter that as a campaign manager you picked all the right locations to be in and spent money the right way. You may be a fantastic campaign finance director and you helped the candidate put together the funds. You might be the best friend who told them about a campaign slogan or TV ad idea. Maybe you were a consultant who edited the mail or reviewed speeches.

If you ever, even for a second, find yourself saying out loud: “I won this campaign, my work was …” No. Stop. Hold up immediately. The moment you ever say anything about the fact your work product is the reason why a campaign won a race, you are going to find yourself with a lot of campaigns that do not want to work with you. Your role is replaceable. There are other people who can raise money. There are other campaign managers and field directors. Lots of people will edit mail, do graphic design, review your speeches, and think of slogans.

There is only one person who wins a campaign, and that is the candidate. Period. You can have the best possible people in every single campaign role, but no one at home votes for the finance director. They don’t vote for the speech writer or the TV ad. They vote for the candidate.

If your candidate can’t deliver the words, if they don’t have their heart in it, it doesn’t work. You can have the best finance plan of all time and it still takes your candidate to convince others to give. 

Candidates recognize this, and they have pride in how much they work on their own campaigns. Every candidate at every level. If you come out of a campaign and it is well known that you wanted to claim credit for the win, your result must have been spectacular and unexpected, otherwise, the assumption is simple: You are a braggart who is not someone people want to work with and campaigns should avoid you.

Give your candidate the credit. Make it clear that they won the race and it is because they made the right decisions in who they hired, how they handled their team, and how they went through the process that made it all come together. The benefit of handling your campaign that way is simple: It’s the truth. 



[