Ahh, filing season. For political addicts like you and me it delivers all the anticipation of the 12 Days of Christmas, but three times longer and with more unbreedable slobs than your worst holiday gathering. At least your fat cousins don’t take selfies in front of the Kirkpatrick Building.
An overwhelming majority of the men and women making the pilgrimage to Jefferson City to file for state legislative office believe they are going to win. Some are incumbents cruising to re-election. Some are members of the party with a statistical majority in a district that has been (clench your beads, “campaign reform” submissives, Daddy’s going to use a trigger word) gerrymandered. And some are solid minority-party candidates in true swing districts.
The rest of them, the silver medalists in waiting, are egotistical vanity candidates.
I mentioned these Rowdy Dowdy Pipers back in October, and even offered helpful tips. It’s hard to get my arms around why some got so defensive and didn’t express gratitude. But in fairness, it would be hard to get your arms around some of them at all.
To my fellow Republicans, please accept my heartfelt un-apology for helping Democrats here. It’s what we’re supposed to do in 2022. Haven’t you seen the urban newspapers suddenly praising select Republicans? As the only global investment expert I listen to says, “Just because you weren’t paying attention doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”
(Here’s your quickie primer, Republicans: We should give Dems as many seats (U.S. Congress, MO Senate, MO House) as they ask for, AND we should support ranked-choice voting (as long as the dark money checks from Hushhh Whitewash Strategies or whoever cash.) And once we’re somewhere between calcified and fossilized, but still sanctimonious, we should pretend like we’re going to fund an “independent” stalking horse candidate in a U.S. Senate election. Get it? Got it. Good.)
So to you quixotic state legislative candidates running vanity campaigns in unwinnable districts, I present your campaign calendar from now through late spring:
Filing Day: Any time from Feb. 22, 2022 – March 29, 2022
On whichever day you choose file as a candidate, preferably Feb. 22, remember that the pedestrian paperwork is purely perfunctory. Since your campaign will be run almost exclusively on social media and not the real world, your biggest win today is scoring a selfie with your party’s leadership.
Republican women should try to nab a pic with House Speaker-in-waiting Dean Plocher (R-Des Peres.) Republican men should avoid the photo op. Plocher is tall, sports a chiseled jaw and is quite handsome. (As St. Louis’ most iconic blogger Byron Crawford taught us to say, nullus.) Who wants to pose next to that? Not me. In lieu of Plocher, maybe see if Jay Ashcroft or someone slightly more jowly is around.
In theory, all Democrats should grab a pic with House Minority Leader Crystal Quade (D-Springfield). (Have I mentioned how much I hate that we can’t call her “Superminority Leader” anymore? I do.) Quade is an outstanding representative for the minority caucus. Have you watched her Capitol press conferences, with Quade at the podium and her caucus standing behind her? It’s like talking to your kids’ preschool teacher at pickup time, when you know you’re getting the best possible spin on events while amorphous blobs behind her breathe through their mouths.
Your other filing-day priority: pressure your party’s officials, legislators and consultants to commit to doing an in-district event for you. Spoiler: they’ll agree to your face, then never follow through – mostly because they’ll be helping candidates who can actually win. No matter – you’ll be able to use their words against them late in the campaign. We’ll explore this in detail in Part 3 this summer.
By now, you’ve manufactured some social media chatter. You re-read “Quixotic Twitter-obsessed candidates are the new Instathots” and so you’re picking fights with the opposition party’s top legislators and consultants. You’ve distributed a “press release” about your filing, which was picked up by zero (0) actual news outlets. Fortunately, rubes who get “news” from Facebook and move their lips when they read saw it in their feed and thought it was a real story.
This is the time of the campaign to establish digital real estate. No, not the metaverse, because that would take serious money. It’s time to stake claim to a catchy hashtag. Here’s the rub – it must show you are NOT you party’s typical candidate.
Republicans should use slang from Gen Z; I suggest #NoCapRepublican. The youngs use “cap” to describe a lie or deceit; in other words, you’re a Republican who keeps it real. Really, any slang term you see used on social by the types of women who follow the NBA or men who drink microbrews is a good option.
Democrats should choose anything that suggests they’re in touch with their rural or suburban district. I suggest #RootinTootinBootScootinDemocrat, which is better than any other hashtag that Twitter-obsessed also-rans are trying to make happen these days.
Most Americans dread this as “Take My Stash Day.” But for you, it’s even worse. Thanks to the Missouri Ethics Commission, you are required to report reality in the form of your quarterly campaign finance report.
This could be horrible news for you, but only if you choose to accept reality. And clearly, you’re not that type.
Self-indulgence alert: I tackled quixotic candidates’ refusal to take fundraising seriously all the way back in 2005. But anybody who remembers that educational campaign now has grey hair (raises hand) and diminished memory. So here’s the skinny:
“We’re going to run a grassroots campaign” is a candidate’s way of saying, “I haven’t raised any money, I have no real plans to raise money, and I lack the discipline and dedication to make fundraising calls.”
It’s as if they expect the Fundraising Fairy, sporting homeschool-length hair and a sundress, to magically take a productive load (nullus) straight to the campaign account.
Between now and the day you actually lose the election, there are four dreadful reporting days: the quarterly reports due dates in April, July, and October, along with the 8 Days Out report. The April report is the only one you can credibly claim doesn’t really count. It’s the least-bad of a miserable bunch – consider it the least smelly shirt in the dirty laundry pile, or the safest house you can buy on Troost in Kansas City or anywhere in North St. Louis.
Action item: after you file your abysmal April fundraising report, hit your mailing list with the “grassroots” campaign angle to save face. Separately, fire off passive-aggressive emails and texts to Missouri House Republican Campaign Committee (HRCC) or Missouri House Democratic Campaign Committee (MHDCC) staff to complain that they’re not spoon-feeding you enough fundraising leads. The men and women working their tails off to elect serious candidates should instead spend more time catering to you, don’t they know?
College kids are wrapping up their spring semesters, and this is a good time to lock them into summer “internships” or “fellowships” with your campaign. You won’t pay them much, if anything. And the serious political devotees will be working for candidates that might actually win. But for some college kids, working for your campaign beats getting a real job where they’d be expected to show up at the same location five days a week wearing clean clothes. Here are doable summer project ideas:
Republicans: if you luck into competent volunteers, explore the creation of “hyperlocal partisan propaganda” that dark-money liberal groups have mastered. Along with exploiting the conservative talk-radio grift, manufacturing your own fake news outlet is one of the only ways to reliably amplify content. As noted in the talk-radio piece, such slight-of-hand is probably illegal and definitely unethical, but you probably don’t care too much about that. And if you get called out on it, just rhetorically ejaculate some hot ropes of ideologically inconsistent talking points around “big tech censorship.” Nobody really understands that topic anyway.
Democrats: You already have the uber-talented and deeply experienced team of progressive content creators at Missouri Independent at your disposal, so creating a new propaganda site is unnecessary. Focus instead on audio and video content. Specifically, start pitching yourself to the multitude of Midwest liberal podcasts that somehow exist. They’ll be pleased to have one less episode in which they must put serious planning and production, and you’ll get to tweet that you were “honored” to be “invited” on their show (even though neither is true.) Similarly, see if you can talk a video or graphic design student into making a “documentary” about your campaign. Don’t worry about the cost – the intuitive iMovie app is free, and most political observers will think “documentary” means a serious group of people is investing time following your campaign. Suckers.
Both parties: Your campaign volunteers should begin creating an army of sock-puppet social accounts this month. These accounts (maybe illegal, certainly unethical) should be evenly split between fake supporters and fake detractors. The former will be important in the fall to amplify your campaign event announcements and symbolic policy positions; the latter will attack you with various uncouth slurs and blatant libels, casting you as the victim. Building these shell accounts early makes them appear more realistic to untrained and willfully complicit eyes come late summer/fall.
As you coast into a lazy Memorial Day weekend, now is the time to lay the groundwork for summer and fall sloth – that is, built-in excuses for the days and weeks you’ll skip knocking doors.
Knocking doors is hard. It requires thoughtful targeting, data management and integration, and follow-up. It forces you to face hard questions (e.g., “Why are you still on my porch?”) when you could be spending time making TikTok videos or pretending to understand how inflation works.
Because you read The Missouri Times, you are already well-versed on how Missouri media is coping with the decline of COVID-19 cases. By mid-May, journalists will be finding solace in new angles extending COVID victimhood. With a little luck and a lot of pharma/advocacy group funding, “long COVID” will be part of every permavictim’s vocabulary.
Use this to your advantage. Pick a non-visible malady – say, “long COVID numbness in my hands and feet” – and seed your social accounts with this diagnosis now. For starters, the replies you receive (“OMG I have foot pain too!”) will identify the types of potential supporters who take your storytelling seriously. And most importantly, you’ve established an alibi for when you are “forced to take a break” from knocking doors in the summer heat.
Disclaimer: This specific type of excuse only works for women.
Men, hopefully you realized around age 14 that nobody besides your parents and your doctor want to hear about your health problems. This is a lesson you should have been taught by your father or, if your dad was some sensitive cuck, you learned it from whichever guy was working over your mom. We as men are treated as commodities, entirely replaceable, with no unique qualities. Don’t believe me? Try finding “The Future is Male” or “#BoyBoss” or “Boys Run the World” items at Target or HomeGoods or wherever else AWFLs (Affluent White Female Liberals) spend their husbands’ money.
And sorry fellas, but using mental health as an excuse for campaign sloth won’t work either. Just look at how mainstream media has covered mentally ill men lately, including Kanye West and certain members of the Missouri Senate.
You’re set through Memorial Day. We’ll be back in June with Part 2. Until then, chin(s) up and break a leg! It might help fix your long-COVID foot numbness. WINK!
John Combest began publishing johncombest.com daily in October 2001 to centralize Missouri political news and decentralize truth. His first campaign volunteer experience was in 1994 for a quixotic candidate who lost by 30 points, but as you can tell he’s totally over it. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Instagram (@johncombest_com) and Twitter (@johncombest_com.) He grew up in Spanish Lake (Hazelwood East H.S.) and lives in Chesterfield.