Jim ran for US Congress as a Democrat in 2012 and again in 2014.
He ran then, knowing that “winning” was remote at best.
He joked about using “No Chance!” as a campaign slogan.
His unconventional campaign to underline a flawed political system went mostly unnoticed.
As a Democrat, Jim quipped about being an Eisenhower Republican and referenced the 1956 Republican Platform in his campaign.
Jim left the political rat race to enjoy retirement, but the 2016 fiasco called him back. He saw Americans dangerously divided, losing their voice and their confidence in government and the media that is supposed to keep government honest.
Jim’s “Strategy” is to “win” by trying not to win. He is doing everything backwards from conventional campaign wisdom. He's telling the truth, making no promises, attacking both sides, and rejecting money. Crazy, right?
He hopes his effort opens the door for future young independent-minded statesmen to get elected. For now, it’s all about turning politics inside out.
STRATEGY – Focus on the Primary and present a compelling story
- Run in the Republican primary as a “freelance” candidate.
- Anti-money! Money is the big problem in politics. The only way to get money out is for voters to elect candidates who reject big donations. Jim is running “freelance” to highlight the fact that he will not be actively fundraising and will not accept any contribution above $100. He is not working for any party, PAC, special-interest, lobby, union, or rich dude. Conventional wisdom says no one has a chance without massive amounts of money. Jim hopes to turn big-money into a political liability. Anyone who wants to influence Jim with money is encouraged to make a big donation to a local charity or give their employees a bonus in Jim’s name.
- Why Republican? In the 2014 primaries, Jim raised a significant amount of money, put out over 2,000 signs and ran radio ads. His Democratic opponent Genevieve Williams campaigned hard. Yet their votes together added to less than half the votes cast for Republican, Marshall Works, who spent no money, attended no events, and gave boilerplate answers on the rare occasion he was interviewed. In 2016 Trump received almost 70% of the 7th district vote. Charlie Brown was the last Democrat to win the 7th and that was in 1958 (60 years ago). The 7th is solid red. Jim is a fifth-generation Republican. Returning to his roots to run in the Republican primary just makes good sense.
2. Run in the primary where a few votes can make an enormous difference.
- Primaries are all that really matter. Trump won the Primary with less than 10% of Americans’ approval. It takes about 8% of the 7th District’s registered voters to elect their representative.
- In 2014 Marshal Works got 33,000 votes to Billy Long’s 55,000. Since Marshall’s did no campaigning, we assume “not Billy Long” was why people voted for Marshall. Theoretically, a candidate with better name recognition and good media presence who campaigned hard would fare better.
- Jim got 98,000 votes in the 2012 general election. The district has many “independents,” moderate Republicans, young people, and quiet progressives who have not felt a compelling reason to vote in a primary. What if they did?
- If Jim gets Marshal’s “not Billy votes,” can shift 11,000 moderate Republican votes away from Long, and motivates the here-to-fore disenfranchised to vote in the primary, Jim would win in a landslide. That would be a huge story.
3. Engage voters through social media. Trump has shown us the power of Twitter. Eighty percent of 7th District voters are on Facebook and nearly 100% of people under 40 (Long’s weakest constituency) are on Facebook. Since there is strong “not Long” feelings among younger voters who traditionally are not dependable primary voters, there is tremendous potential with social media to activate the 11,000+ votes needed to turn the election. 50,000 votes from 600,000 friends-of-friends is all it takes.
An interesting fact: Given the “check” frequency of Facebook users and the tested fact that everyone on Facebook is separated from everyone else by just 3.6 hops, it is theoretically possible to reach 80% of 7th District voters in 12 hours using only Facebook messaging. A compelling message relayed from friend-to-friend the day before the primary could make a winner out of a complete unknown.
4. Engage the media in telling the story of the campaign. The fact that Jim’s campaign and candidacy are the opposite of the traditional political approach is a story in and of itself. If he wins or just does very well, it would have far-reaching national significance in subsequent campaigns. If he succeeded, not in wining but, in altering the behavior and campaign of his opponent, that, too, would be significant. In either case it could be a remarkable story for journalists.
Jim will make himself and all his appearances totally accessible to the media. As evidence of a completely open and honest campaign, he will not try to avoid questions. The media is even welcome to attend committee meetings and planning sessions. It is a story about an honest, independent-minded person offering to serve everyone in his community. It is not a horse race.
5. Present an honest platform built on verifiable information that addresses locally
identified problems. Offer an honest platform that makes no promises that can’t be kept. Reject partisan “solutions” and, instead, work with people to find non-partisan answers to generally accepted problems. The primary goal of the platform is defusing conflict and building cooperation (Domestic Tranquility).