2015 The year started with my Six Steps to Creating Your Message and Stump Speech workshops, particularly noteworthy are the ones for the Henrico County Democrats, led by Cheryl Zando. A wonderful crowd of candidates corralled together to learn how to answer the question, "Why are you running?" Va. Democrats are on the move. Watch for Mike Hamlar and Kenya Savage.
Another was for the Indiana Democratic Caucus. Women from all sorts of non-profits and offices gathered in Indianapolis to work toward putting more Democratic women in office.
Flew to Columbia, South Carolina to produce a new talk show series, Chair Chats with Jaime Harrison, the wonderful hard-charging Democratic Chair of the SC Party. The purpose is to get to know elected politicians and candidates better than the standard political canned chatter. First to be interviewed was Bernie Sanders, who wowed with what our young interns said was, "The down-low on politics." Next was Lincoln Chafee, an affable man, and former Senator and Governor of Rhode Island. Then, the indomitable Terry McAuliffe, Governor of VA., who spoke on behalf of Hillary Clinton, but also told us about wrestling an alligator for a donation. That's a first. And then, Jaime interviewed a local mayor of Johnston, SC, Terrence Culbreath, who was simply terrific. A former producer for the group Outkast, he returned home to serve as a most efficient and entertaining mayor!
The Association of State Democratic Chairs took me to San Francisco, where I met many new state chairs and heard their plans for the future. One new chair, Larry Meeker, of Kansas, is nicely intent on changing things in Kansas. I suggested doing some focus groups there and he agreed. I'm looking forward to facilitating them.
Detroit was next on my agenda, to write and produce and shoot a television ad for Lon Johnson, now the former state chair of the Democratic Party of Michigan.
Some surgery in the mix, a knee replacement. Finally, my former beaten up dancer's knees got some badly needed help. When I recovered I went back to South Carolina, and we taped 3 South Carolina state legislators, including Vincent Sheehan, former gubernatorial candidate. An interesting man who, (I hope) runs again. Next in Columbia, HRC.
In Kansas City, Kansas, for focus groups. I facilitated 4 groups in different parts of the state to gain information in order to combat the destruction wrought by the Brownback Tea Party administration. We went to Pittsburg, Wichita, and Topeka. I'll be summarizing the results shortly. I also met with several candidates considering running for office. They were passionate in their Democratic views and I hope I persuaded them. More to come.
Back to Columbia shortly!
The end of the year was a flurry of last minute ads and candidate activity, from North Carolina to Wyoming to Utah, and Austin, Texas, where Steve Adler, a wonderful man and a candidate for mayor of Austin, won his race! A great cap on a year that ended somewhat depressingly. It's hard to be upbeat when so many Democratic candidates lost. I won't pretend to be, either. My thoughts: when we vote on the issues, Democrats win, but when our candidates don't speak their true beliefs out of fear of losing, they lose anyway.
Here's to a better 2015 and the state and local races coming up. Check out Mike Hamlar, a great new candidate running for the VA. State Senate, I just finished a couple of ads with him. One is on my portfolio page. And, please also look at Vern Gavin, running for County Supervisor in Mississippi. His ad, with his grandson and daughter, stars in the making, is also on my portfolio page. He's a new candidate, as well. Also, I worked with many candidates in Ms. all the way from Gov. to County Clerk, writing their stump speeches and their debate responses. I have great hope for a change in the MS. State Legislature because of the quality of these candidates.
Just returned from a candidate-filled working session with the South Carolina Democratic Party. Lots of candidates and potential candidates to work with -- great bench potential. Go South Carolina Dems!
Wrote and produced a :30 ad for Theresa Rich, a powerful candidate for the Michigan State Legislature. Normally, a state leg candidate in a non-urban setting doesn't go for TV in a primary, but Theresa decided to go for it. In this district, a notable problem, indeed, in a lot of Michigan, is that while the grandparents stay, the children and g'children leave because they can't find good jobs, let alone any jobs. This ad dramatizes their plight. This is one of the many problems Theresa, a tax attorney who was tired of the "sneaky" practices of the Michigan State Legislature, run by the even more difficult Governor, Rick Snyder, chooses to address.
July Just hosted a "boot camp" retreat for two candidates from Idaho for 3 days in my home in Utah. Did a lot of interviewing, a lot of writing of message points, stump speeches, rehearsing "at the door" pitches, editorial board pitches, and phone pitches. It was a lovely atmosphere to conduct hard work, and these women, Deborah Silver for Idaho Treasurer, and Catherine Talkington for the State Legislature, really applied themselves. Idaho Democrats is not an idle phrase. They are alive and well and kicking ass. (Pun intended.)
August Spent some time in Austin, Texas working with a great new candidate for Mayor, Steve Adler. True to my article in Campaigns and Elections magazine, I stayed with Steve and his beautiful totally great wife, Diane. Got to know his real talents and experience, especially when it comes to putting a consensus together, a particularly important skill with a totally new city council of 10 people coming in -- a new wrinkle in Texas politics. After Texas, I headed up to Martha's Vineyard for a tiny vacation and then to Utah to plan some videos with veterans for my Congressional candidate, Donna McAleer. It's a real shame that the incumbent, who claims to be a great representative of the huge veteran population in his district, can't be bothered to vote for them. We'll point that important fact out with the veterans in the district who are pissed off about it.
Heading to North Carolina in September to shoot an important Voter ID project for television. More then. Happy Labor Day weekend, please enjoy it!