Second Take Home Essay #1
Early last year, shortly after the 2000 elections, the Distinguished Gentlemen, Lloyd Doggett announced that he would not seek reelection for his House seat in 2002. This revelation came as quite a shock to Doggett supporters, but it was a pleasant surprise to a well-known Texas Senator such as myself. Being a Democrat who is well liked and respected within the Texas Senate, it was a clear calling for me to throw in the towel and run for his position within the House of Representatives. Two months ago Texas held its primary for seats in the House, and after a long and hard fought battle, I procured the nomination of my party. The 2002 elections are sneaking up on us, and in order to be successful in them, my staff and I have devised a game plan, describing my strategy for the upcoming general election. In order to devise this plan, my staff and I had to answer four specific questions dealing with my campaign. These questions will be discussed throughout my essay. My wish is that other political hopefuls will be able to take this essay and learn from my successes as well as my mistakes.
The first question I came upon before making my strategy was when and how do I want to spend my money. When would be the best time strategically to spend my money, and on what should I spend it on? Fortunately for our campaign we had done a great deal of fundraising prior to the primaries, and had to spend very little of it during the primaries because of our weak opposition. We therefore are anything but short of money, and can spend our money freely. But when would be the best time to spend it? History has proven to us that by spending your money early on in the race you increase your chance of success. The logistics of this are obvious for several reasons. First of all, it is essential to get your name out and known towards the beginning of the race. If people barely know you four or five months before the election, then you are too late. This kind of thinking is especially important in House races because of the little attention they are given. For example, Lloyd Doggett has served three terms in the House of Representatives and has built up a name for himself. An incumbent would be able to focus his money to different areas because of his already popular name recognition. However, a challenger or an open-seat candidate such as Josh Grodin needs to direct his money towards building a name for himself. Furthermore, this has to be done early on in the campaign. So this brings us to the question of how to spend our money. Besides on building name recognition, it is absolutely necessary to advertise. As much as possible, my staff and I would like to take advantage of the free media, but we all know how difficult this can be. So we need to direct our attention towards paid advertising. I am running for the House of Representatives, so I only need to reach a somewhat small number of people. I believe that the best way to do this will be with direct mail bios of my life, what I want to do, my goals, and my advantages over my opponent. I am a firm believer that grass-roots politics is the best way to go in a House race. Towards the homestretch of my campaign, it will be necessary to spend money on TV and radio advertisements. What these advertisements will contain brings us to our next question: positive or negative?
Advertising will play a huge role in the success of my campaign for House of Representatives. In fact, it is obvious that advertising plays a major role in all campaigns for elected office. But something that has always been associated with advertising is whether or not it should be positive or negative. With my experience, I believe that this answer depends solely on whether or not you are an incumbent or a challenger. An incumbent such as Lloyd Doggett has no need to run negative campaigns. Why? First of all, he already has the name recognition with his constitutes as well as his peers. Second, he has the money to spend on numerous ads that could respond to attacks or emphasize his positives while in office. Finally, an incumbent more than likely has his political party on his side, backing him in any possible way. However, a challenger or open-seat candidate most likely does not have these assets. For example, I do not (or at least did not) have the name recognition, I certainly did not have the money, and I didn’t have my party’s support until after the primary. Therefore, I felt that I need to go negative when it comes to advertising. By running negative attack ads, I can use the results to my advantage. For example, if I run a negative ad and the media picks up on it, I will, in essence, be getting free advertising spots. This is important because the main goal of my campaign is to get my message out. This proves to be difficult considering I am not an incumbent. As an open-seat candidate, how do I get my message out?
Probably the most challenging of the four questions my staff and I had to ask ourselves was how to get my message out to the voters. This question more or less answered itself as we considered where and how to spend our money. As previously stated, we decided that advertising was the best way to spend our money, whether it is TV, radio, or direct contact. At the same time this became clear, it became apparent that this is how we need to get our message out. The only way for voters to know who Josh Grodin is would be to tell them directly. Direct mail is definitely one option, as well as TV and radio advertising, but I believe that direct and personal contact with the voters is the best way to go about spreading my message. As we move into the general election, I want to hold public rallies, town halls, and live debates. I want to go door to door and meet the people who I will be representing in office. I want my name to become attributed to characteristics such as charming, warm, caring, and sincere instead of being called a politician or a fake. The most effective way of achieving these goals is to have direct voter-candidate contact. I can therefore speak my message clearly and effectively, and be able to answer questions the voters may have regarding my issues and my stances on these issues. This brings me to our fourth and final question: what are my issues and my themes?
As a Senator in Texas, I have always been a firm believer in accurately representing the general consensus of my constituents. When polled, the people of my region time and time again list education, healthcare, and taxes as their primary concerns. I feel it is my duty to fairly represent their opinions. In regards to education, I am worried at the current state of learning within Texas. TAAS scores are down and the dropout rate is up ever since the new governor took President Bush’s place. Teachers’ salaries are ridiculously low for the kind of job that they have. As a member of the House of Representatives, I plan to focus on education reform within the state of Texas. Moreover, I believe that every single member of the population of Texas has a right to medical attention when needed. There are too many children and elderly that cannot receive medicine because lack of money. I plan to work changing that and guarantee all Texans medical services. Finally, I believe taxes need to be adjusted. I believe that the Republicans in this state have lowered taxes too much for the rich and not enough for the poor. This is just not right in a state such as Texas, and I plan on reforming tax cuts to where it will benefit people of all socio-economical levels. My issues and feelings towards them are strong and clear, and will soon become apparent to the common voter.
As I begin down the homestretch of my campaign for the United States House of Representatives, I feel confident that we are ready to take on any challenges that may confront us. My staff and I have devised a simple, yet compact plan that will help direct us in the direction of victory. Our goals have been set, we are prepared for any detours that may encounter us, and we are ready to give to Texans what they strongly deserve.