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Opinion: How to earn an election silver medal (without really trying), Part 3: Season Finale

“Relax with Trudy.”

The mysterious mantra of 1980s WWF superstar Adrian Adonis adorned the gear worn by manager Jimmy Hart, and was emblazoned (sometimes as “Trudi”, shown above) on a briefcase Adonis carried to the ring. At the apex of each match, Adonis would apply his patented sleeper hold –  dubbed “Good night, Irene!” – and render his opponent unconscious.

The last time we were all together, we pondered: Does being shot out of Gussie Busch’s balls qualify someone to be a United States senator? In August, Missouri Democrats answered with a resounding yes.

We’ll relax with Trudy, Democrats said. It seemed a safer bet than Thirst Trappin’ with Lucas or Smashing the System with Spencer.

And what a relaxing choice Trudy has been. Her campaign, as explained in Part 2, is an economic stimulus plan for Democratic campaign professionals. Consultants and operatives are making out like bandits, and not one of them will be singled out for the Election Day loss.

In fact, Valentine herself is already taking responsibility for the defeat. This summer she couldn’t quite remember her lines about the recruitment timeline. Today, she’s graciously delivering a narrative that running for Senate was her idea all along. This is a testament to excellent coaching. Take note, dance moms:

“It was my idea to sign up for jazz, tap, salsa, ballet, freestyle, lyrical and street,” said the six-year-old through tears as her mom, former captain of the local Twerk Team, applied Aquaphor to the child’s blistered feet. “Seven days of classes means … <sobbing> seven … times … the … fun.”

It bears repeating:  Valentine’s willingness to take this loss on behalf of Missouri Democrats is a selfless act. As such, she deserves better than the post-election treatment she’ll get from Missouri’s political reporters and progressive content creators. A common misperception among my Republican brethren is that The Media™ loves Democratic candidates. That’s only half true; The Media™ loves Democratic candidates only as long as those candidates are useful.

The Valentine campaign postmortems will be brutal. Democrat upstarts looking to make names for themselves – and the ones that were denied seats on the gravy train – will criticize the campaign for its lack of “energy” (i.e., Trudy is old) and for being “out of touch” (i.e., Trudy focused on abortion and not flavor-of-the-month identity issues.) The blatant ageism is acceptable because Trudy is a white female, and in progressive circles, white females are the new white men.

The undisputed MVP of the Valentine campaign is spokesman Jacob Long. I’ve enjoyed his work ever since I saw him get huffy with Gov. Mike Parson and spokeswoman Kelli Jones in 2018. It was like watching Andy Cohen do an impression of Elliott Davis. Long deserves a hefty bonus, if only for protecting the candidate from head-to-head debates with opponent Eric Schmitt.  At minimum, Long deserves to be tossed a contract with the St. Louis Development Corporation, though I’m not certain he ticks enough diversity boxes to get a no-show job. Which is probably best, as it seems the organization could use a talented worker.

John Combest

Losses can be demoralizing, but don’t pity the Valentine team. As famed cleat-chaser Annie Savoy taught us, “You have to respect the ballplayer who’s just trying to finish the season.” Indeed, the senescence of the campaign can be a glorious time for Valentine campaign staffers and consultants. Some will go into business for themselves, spoon-feeding their version of strategic mishaps to reporters and ensuring certain parts of the campaign are portrayed more favorably than others. Field staffers can run up their campaign travel and incidental expenses –  disguised as “food for volunteers” and “dinner for phone bank” on post-election reports – and no one will care since Trudy herself is covering the overage. Unlike some political operations – e.g., the Missouri Republican Party in 2014 – everyone knows the checks will cash. Just-passin’-through out-of-state hires can pack up their apartments in one day and be on their way. The money’s on the dresser, Vanilla Bean.

But in this moment:  let’s lower our voices. Just relax with Trudy. The political campaign for Missouri’s wealthiest “nurse” has been rolled from intensive care into hospice. Good-hearted Democrat campaign staffers – and there are many – should treat the Pilsner Princess as campaign staffers themselves deserve to be treated the next two weeks:  embrace her warmly, hold her closely, and remind her: This will all be over soon.

Good night, Irene.


Scott Fitzpatrick should deliver his Election Night victory speech atop a ladder.

While Eric Schmitt is celebrating his ascent up another political rung, Fitzpatrick has the cojones to bring an actual ladder on stage.

For the record, there’s nothing wrong with Schmitt moving from Missouri attorney general to U.S. Senator, a la his new colleague Josh Hawley. It’s a right honorable career path, like when Jefferson City partiers hop off the carousel, chop their hair and become “advocates.”

Schmitt’s primary-night line – “I don’t come from billions, I come from Bridgeton,” was an instant classic. It’s our era’s version of Dick Gephardt’s “My dad was a milk truck driver.” And it will be the money line again on Nov. 8. So let Schmitt have the audio soundbite while Fitzpatrick claims the dominant visual. In a smartphone-addicted world, that’s what matters most.

And Fitzpatrick should completely no-sell the ladder on stage. Don’t reference it even once during the remarks.

“REEEEEEEE what’s the ladder about?” asks a journotwerp.

“It’s about … 12 feet,” Fitzpatrick laughs, brushing past the reporter to speak to functional humans.

The next day, a Fitzpatrick spokesman can e-mail a cheeky line about “oversight” of public agencies or some other non-answer. Leave everyone wondering if it’s a message to other GOP officeholders. Considering some of the boobs pretending they’ll enter the Republican governor primary in two years, why not?

You can bet the KC Starbois would reference the ladder in every 2024 election piece starting this January, when their anti-Hawley series resumes.

Fitzpatrick is my favorite kind of public servant – the kind that already has a real-world career and doesn’t need any of his political jobs.  He deserves to have a laugh and speaking atop a ladder is the most political fun he’s going to have for at least four years. Auditing the Cherryville fire protection district won’t provide the same kind of rush.


But we’re not here to talk about winners. We’re here to talk about you. Here’s the next two weeks – and the endgame – for 2022’s distant silver medalists.

This moment

The very first suggestion offered in Part 1 centered on a fundamental truth: “(Y)our campaign will be run almost exclusively on social media and not the real world.”  You’ve been implementing actionable advice from that piece, namely “picking (Twitter) fights with the opposition party’s top legislators and consultants.” This approach keeps you from knocking doors to talk to voters (blech!) or meeting with the district’s business and education leaders (They don’t even have TikTok on their phone, much less know how to green screen duet. Losers!)

You’re keeping up appearances with your campaign volunteers and local party leaders by ticking through your efforting metrics (“I’ve worn out four pairs of shoes,” “Had to get the oil changed AGAIN because of the mileage!”) And you’re racking up cash rewards (into your personal bank account) every time you fill up your gas tank (paid for by the campaign.)

Since we were last together, you’ve also established a business presence – preferably in the name of a family member or other henchman – to serve as the intermediary for the production of campaign-related materials. You’ve likely found that high-margin items like campaign t-shirts and hoodies provide the biggest markup for this racket.

Election night

Your campaign has two fatal flaws: 1.) you chose to run in an unwinnable district and 2.) one election cycle isn’t enough to satiate your ego or your pocketbook. You can’t do anything about the former, but you can finesse the latter.

The obstacle is the way;  your path forward is a permanent campaign. Today, your campaign is like a penny stock. It’s traded on the proverbial pink sheets, professionals don’t take it seriously, and it’s being delisted at 7:00 PM on Nov. 8. By transforming your one-and-done campaign into a permanent racket, you’re turning your penny stock into a blue- (or red-) chip stock that pays you quarterly dividends.

What do you need to produce quarterly dividends? Recurring revenue. How do you get recurring revenue? By setting up your own subscription service.

That’s right, you’re going to set up an OnlyFans type fundraising model. For the puritans who’ve never heard of OnlyFans (play along, straight men), here’s an explainer.

If the beta/cuck economy seems like a pivot for your campaign, you’re wrong. Since the day you filed for office, you’ve been selling pipe dreams to the gullible. A subscription service gives your submissives – excuse me, your supporters – the gift of honoring you year-round. Permanent pedestalization.

It would be most appropriate to call this model the Quixotic Vanity Candidate Network, but there’s already a QVC Network targeting people who make questionable financial decisions. So we’ll call your model OinkyFans, since you’re satiating your gluttony via simps.

Here’s your Election Night script, to be adapted based on your political party:

“We came up short tonight, but in my travels across the district, I can’t tell you how many people thanked me for running in this area as a <Republican/Democrat.> For having the courage to take on the <Democrat/Republican> machine in this area. Some people said I was crazy. Well, <name of spouse/partner> has been saying that for years! <pause for pity laughs and spotty applause>

“Back in 2020, when I would drive down <urban thoroughfare/rural highway> I used to see nothing but <Biden/Trump> signs. But this year, those <streets/fields> don’t have any <Democrat/Republican> signs at all. I saw <Eric Schmitt/Trudy Busch Valentine> signs instead. Because people are fed up. They saw what happened with <inflation/January 6.> And they’re ready for change.

“Unfortunately, our <Republican/Democrat> party leaders have written this area off. They say we can’t beat a <Democrat/Republican> here. 

“Well I’m here to tell you they’re wrong. We ran a grassroots campaign, and when you look at <inconsequential unverified metric>, we outperformed every other <Republican/Democrat> in the last <exaggerated number> years.

“We can’t wait for the party to come save us. We have to do it ourselves. We’re going to build the infrastructure from the ground up. I’ve already started hearing from regular men and women who are thinking about running for school board. They’re tired of all the <critical race theory/book censorship.> They don’t want <grooming/fascism> in their schools. 

“Tonight, I’m pleased to announce that we’re launching OinkyFans. We’re going to share the lessons we learned and the data we gathered in this campaign to help candidates who share our values. Now, we’re not gonna do it through the same old political action committees. No Missouri Ethics Commission reports to slow us down. That system is broken.

“This is not a campaign; it’s a movement. Will you join us?”

External narrative

You’ve been haranguing legitimate candidates, party operatives and county/township leaders as directed in Parts 1 and 2 of this series. You took note as they gave vague non-committal responses to your requests for money. That was your planting season. This is your harvest season. It’s time to hit them up again, but now you have a specific ask:  Have you signed up for our OinkyFans? Why not?

To be clear, you are not the first in the Missouri political world to create a subscription or membership program. Progressives have one with the Heartland Pod team, and freedom fighter Austin Petersen established one at (disclosure: I’m a subscriber.) But those folks are credible and produce high-quality content, so you certainly won’t be infringing on their spaces.

Into the top of your OinkyFans funnel goes all the voter, volunteer and donor data you’ve created yourself, borrowed from other campaigns, and stolen from your party’s coordinated campaign database. Like foreign scammers, start with the most obvious suckers – donors to other quixotic candidates – for the infusion of seed money.

April 2023 Missouri school board elections will be your pilot program. This is your proof-of-concept phase, where you’ll graciously offer candidate training sessions (you’re the expert!) and access to your social media followers. Plus, OinkyFans members running for school board will get exclusive “discounts” (markups) when they order their campaign materials from your Urban GOPfitters or Gravel Road Garments middleman hustle.

Internal narrative

If you’re still struggling to reconcile your campaign story arc – a real hero’s journey it was – with election results, heed advice from your fellow thespians Milli Vanilli: Whatever you do, don’t put the blame on you.

“Ignorant voters must’ve hated the sound of my name,” stings less than, “Voters recognized me as an egotistical, self-serving prick.”

Sometimes you think you’ve had enough of this tangled web. You want to rip off your candidate costume, delete social media apps from your phone, and rewind life back to the way it was before you drove to the Kirkpatrick Building back in February.

But you can never go back. Not once you’ve seen your name plastered on yard signs and 4X8s around town. Not since you stood on stage behind the microphone at that statewide rally. All eyes were on you. You were somebody.

In your quiet moments at the kitchen table, alone, your fragile porcelain façade cracks and reality seeps in. You think of all the time that you’ve lost. The hours you could’ve spent with your kids, your spouse or your partner, your neighbors, your old friends. Days, weeks, months you’ll never get back.

Snap out of it.

From here on out, the only emotions that matter are the ones that can be monetized. Court cases and catastrophes, special sessions and shootings.

You’ve got subscriptions to sell, administrative fees to skim, campaign materials to mark up. Where’s that ring light? Set up the camera. Slip into the accent. Your OinkyFans are waiting.

School board filing starts in six weeks.