Cross posted at Eschew Obsfuscation
From the moment I walked into the Colosseum on Saturday morning, I knew it was Ken Cuccinelli's convention. To most of the delegates, selecting Governor and Lt. Governor candidates and a party chairman was secondary. For them, nominating Ken was job one.
I was impressed with the organization Ken has put together. And I'm sure it will only strengthen in the months to come. Congratulations Ken, from a John Brownlee supporter, on a job well done.
Now the tough part begins. It's easy to get the support of those who reside on the right side of the conservative spectrum. Those who are involved enough to pay real money to travel across the state to attend a political convention. It's a bit tougher to get the more moderate. And tougher still to get those guys that have voted a straight Democratic line forever just because Granddad did.
A wise man once told me that any candidate comes into a race with 20% locked down. It's there. You don't really even have to work for it. That's true for his opponent as well. That means you have to convince the voters in the middle. You're both fighting for them.
So, you have to go out there and convince just 31% of the voters that you're their guy. Sounds simple. Only 31%. Until you realize that that most can't name you or your opponent. Sure, they know the finalists on American Idol, but ask them who represents them in Congress or the General Assembly and you get a blank stare. Or you get the name of the last guy they saw interviewed on CNN. They don't know him, they don't know you, and they don't really care.
Now, I'm here to offer a bit of advice. It's worth every penny I'm charging you for it, Ken.
The 9th district will be crucial to your success. I'm sure you already know that, but it has to be said anyway.
The Fightin' Ninth is full of folks just like I have described.
"Granddad was a Democrat, Dad was a Democrat, so I guess that makes me a Democrat. Sure, in a Presidential election I usually vote for the most conservative guy. I'm a conservative guy myself. But, by cracky, I'm a Democrat and I want my local guys to be Democrats just like Dad was."
Or so it goes.
You have to get more than 25% of these leftovers excited enough about you to tell their friends.
The next part may seem mean. I don't intend it that way. The way to their hearts will not be easy. Especially for a guy whose last name ends with a vowel. Face it, Cuccinelli is not a name heard around here very often. I suggest making "Ken!" a catch-phrase down this way. Perhaps they'll even begin to think Shannon is a sissy name. Stress the "Ken", lose the "Cuccinelli". Or shorten it to Cooch. At least down this way. Nothing personal, just the way folks in the coalfields think.
Oh, by the way, there ain't a lot of Catholics down this way either. We're mostly Baptists and Pentecostals. Regardless of political affiliation, probably as conservative as you, if not more so. Most are a bit leery of Catholics, though.
I'm afraid Brownlee was right when he stressed his prosecutor past. Shannon and his cheerleaders are already using it. And you've painted yourself into a corner on the triggerman thing. You can't switch gears now, so stress public safety any other way you can.
Spend time down this way. It worked for Warner. It worked for Kaine. It can work for you. Get to Martinsville. Not the speedway, though that won't hurt. (There is a great 4th of July event there each year. Attend it.) Get to downtown Martinsville. I suggest a Friday evening attending a T.G.I.F concert. Get in touch with Councilman Danny Turner or City Attorney Eric Monday, they can arrange it and they'll be good guides.
Get to the outlying areas of the ninth. Call Jerry Lester out in Grundy. Work with the Kilgores down U.S.23 from there, you know them, I'm sure. Get by here in Stanleytown, we'll work out an event for you here.
Abingdon, Bristol, Roanoke, and even Martinsville are important, but ignore Stuart, Hurley, Norton, and Bassett at your peril.
The Peach Festival in Stuart. If at all possible, be there.
Floydfest in Floyd. If at all possible, be there.
Poor Boy's Dinner in Galax. If at all possible, be there.
The Fall races at Martinsville and Bristol. If at all possible, be there.
You get the idea. It all comes down to six little words. When it comes to the ninth district, if at all possible, be there.
And finally, I'm here to help, use me any way you can.