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How to Draft a Candidate

Well, qualifying ended yesterday for the October 20 election.

There were a number of half-hearted attempts to “draft” me at the last minute. There were also attempts to draft Karen Gadbois and Latoya Cantrell. None of us will be on the ballot.

I like the idea of people drafting a candidate. I’m not sure how often it really works, if ever. Still, sending text-messages and e-mails at the last minute isn’t really an effective way to achieve the goal.

I’ve got a couple or three suggestions on how to do it better.

  1. Don’t wait until the last minute. People were trying to convince us to run when there were literally only hours left in the qualifying period. That’s really too late. Yes, I know this election kind of snuck up on us, what with Oliver Thomas’ surprising fall from grace. But if you are disappointed with the field of candidates we have, start thinking about the next election cycle now. It’s not too early. Decide who you want to draft now and starting working on them.
  2. Address concerns. If your potential candidate cites specific reasons why he or she “can’t” run, take those seriously. See if you can think of a way to address those concerns and turn that “can’t” around. For example, I said I couldn’t run because our house isn’t finished. One person told me that’s exactly why I should run, which I thought was rhetorically brilliant, but it didn’t actually address my pregnant wife’s concern that her house is going to be a construction site forever.
  3. Offer assistance. I think this is the most important point. Citizens who toy with the notion of running for elected office are daunted by the notion that they’ll be out there all alone. Of all the people who urged me to run, only one person actually made a substantive offer of help. The support of the community can be a great factor, if it’s real. So make it real.

OK, those are my ideas off the top of my head. I’m sure there are many more that could be added. It won’t be easy and the task should not be approached lightly. Remember, the idea is to send the candidate off screaming and kicking.

This might be an appropriate place to make a last-minute plug for the Green Party of Louisiana convention tomorrow. Note the change of location.

Published inPolitix


  1. I’ve always been skeptical that local bloggers could be a political force. To me a blog is still just a place to express some personal opinions. I think the failure of the activist bloggers to field even a symbolic candidate shows that they’re a long ways from being a political force. Maybe someday it will happen.

  2. celcus celcus

    The groundwork for running anything but a symbolic campaign takes a tremendous amount of time, particularly for a first time candidate. And that’s not counting the money that needs to be raised, and re-raised continually throughout the campaign. Anyone who doesn’t find even the groundwork daunting, is either naive or nuts (see the current at-large race line up). And all the sentiment in the world dose not provide the money that is really what makes a campaign go.

    Bart, you nailed it. The time to start looking for a date for the next dance is now, not later. And the way to convince them is to make the task a little less daunting.

  3. It was a last minute effort, it turned out to be more symbolic than substantive. BUT it was more than “local bloggers”

    The reason it seems to be that is quite simply the local bloggers blog about it.

    There were many conversations which included other folks with experience in local politics.

    The desire to participate in local politics is more than “running” many of us would like to be involved at many levels. Those of us that do need to talk.

    Good points Bart.

  4. You make some excellent points, Bart as does Celcus. Running a grassroots/insurgent campaign takes a lot of time. The only way it could have worked this time round was if someone had started laying the groundwork the day OT resigned.

    Also, a candidate has to be enthusiastic about running and prepared to turn their life upside down. It’s a major commitment, which is why *after* a draft effort, the candidate has gotta volunteer to do it.

  5. It seems to me that any of the three draftees had intent to run, it wouldn’t have mattered if anyone tried to draft them or how the would-be constituancy went about doing so. I would hate to think someone may have felt the call to service and balked because people around them didn’t approach the subject with enough ways and means, if that was the case, then the city without question pooled the best field of candidates.

    I wouldn’t think to encourage someone to run unless they came to me for my opinion. Do I think Bart and Karen would make great city officials? Hell yea! Would I goad them into running for office if they didn’t express an interest in it in the first place? No. Why? For the reasons listed above and, more importantly, because they had their private reasons for not doing so I’m sure.

    I just hate to think that those reasons might solely be the ones listed above? Because it should be something a citizen looks within themselves to do or not do. I couldn’t disagree more with the Clarke quote. Some seek the office for power, others don’t. Just because someone is enthusiastic about a job doesn’t mean they will corrupt the office, though some do. We aren’t living several thousand years from now. We are in post apocalypse New Orleans and the rule book was washed away in the storm.

    My mom used to draft me to wash the dishes when I was growing up. I hated it and often broke the dishes or left scraps of food on them. I was repeatedly admonished for it but rebelled. I dug in my heels and let her decide if she wanted to keep forcing me to wash the dishes and deal with the breakage and the dried cuisine or compromise with me somehow. I simply wasn’t going to “play ball” regardless of the consequences. The dissidence and ensuing punishment was better than the sentence of continuing to wash the dishes. Eventually I was relegated to other household chores.

  6. I think that given the short time available from the start of the campaign, drafting someone was a difficult prospect. Local political operatives and pundits had pointed out how hard it would be for a relatively unknown candidate to get any significant attention.

    What truly appalled me was the generally dismal quality of the candidates who did step forward. Desperation to have someone with competence and integrity in the race was what I think drove the last minute efforts.

  7. “What truly appalled me was the generally dismal quality of the candidates who did step forward. Desperation to have someone with competence and integrity in the race was what I think drove the last minute efforts.”

    Exactly, mominem. This wasn’t a prototypical “draft” effort. (Something with which I’m familiar.) It was born of desperation, and if Latoya didn’t have understandable personal concern, I think she would have done it.

    Also, I think she could have done surprisingly well, had she run.

    Bloggers have immense political impact, by the way– however, it is haphazard, and scattershot. ALmost random. The trivialization of details in political campaigns arguably plays right into the hands of bloggers.

    The “makaka-gate” thing in VA, for example, was largely blogger driven. That deal arguably tipped the balance of the Senate race, which tipped the balance of the Senate. Kos’ fundraising for Tester in Montana shouldn’t be underrated, either.

    In coming days or weeks, I may publicly talk Green Party politics with Ed B. and try to get a blogger debate going.

  8. aakrishnan aakrishnan

    As a person who was involved and is not a blogger, here’s my opinion: In less than 48 hours, we came incredibly close to getting LaToya on the ballot. LaToya was on the short list for the interim Council replacement, and the desire to run for Council was already there. She gave us the go-ahead to see what we could accomplish in a day and Karen, Alan, Mark, Jimmy, Dave, Ed and so many others kicked ass — in less than 24 hours, we had a website, raised the qualifying fee, pledges of financing, an estimate of how much a campaign would cost ($150K), got many offers of help from consultants, and more, more, more. Karen even offered to babysit! (LaToya is expecting.) On Thursday, LaToya was flooded with calls from leaders from all over the City — and of all parties. When we first asked LaToya to run, she humbly said “I can’t run, I’m poor!” Which is what many of our potential candidates think, huh? Now she has a model for her future run for public office.

    Sure the web helped, but the key grassroots tool wasn’t the Internet — it was the telephone. It was an intense, focused effort.

    Really, I felt like history was made yesterday in New Orleans (when last has something come together that fast?). Incredible thanks to all of you who came together like clockwork to produce the makings of a campaign.

  9. MAD MAD

    The prospects of grassroots candidacy is very encouraging, but do not underestimate how difficult it is to do that successfully, especially for a city-wide race. It takes about a dozen fully committed people (either volunteer or paid) to help the candidate on nearly a full-time basis, which is damned hard to find, and it takes money, lots of it. Most political contributions in New Orleans come from the same group of people, and you do not get their support without sharing a certain ideological orthodoxy, so to speak. As a rule these contributors do not support neighborhood or grassroots activists, or outside-the-mainstream, independent thinkers. Trust me on that.

  10. Anthony Anthony

    To run a credible campaign you need two of three things; Money, organization and/or ideas.

    If you have money and ideas you can buy organization.
    If you have ideas and organization you can get money.
    If you have organization and money you don’t need ideas and that’s how most people do it.

    Unless you can guarantee substantial money or an incredible amount of organization to a candidate it’s hard to draft someone.

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