To be specific, how can someone like Lt. Col. William Russell win against a well-financed, well-known candidate like John Murtha?
First, have your supporters learn from the example of Republican candidates who've beaten well-known, powerful figures in the past. For example, check out the methods used by John Thune in defeating Tom Daschle in the South Dakota Senate race. Also, google the race between winning Republican George Nethercutt and powerful congressman Tom Foley in Oregon. In previous columns, I've discussed the brilliant campaign conducted by Christy Whitman against Bill Bradley, where she spent less than one-tenth as much as Senator Bradley -- and came within two points of beating him. A key to Rick Santorum's winning a seat in Congress nearly two decades ago against entrenched Democrat Doug Walgren was going door-to-door in areas where support for Walgren was "soft."
The reality is that many people believe their one vote doesn't have much of an effect on elections. However, if they manage to convince 19 other people to vote for your candidate, then you might as well have 20 votes. Get 500 people thinking that way, and the number of "influence votes" add up to 10,000, which may just be enough to win a contested election.
Second, tell your supporters you won't concede votes to the Democrats, including those of minorities and union members. Seize any opportunity to talk to members of such groups -- and ask for their help. Recently, the head of the national Machinists Union noted that 35% of the members of that union were registered Republican. A serious candidate for a federal or state office should set a goal of getting 25% of minority votes (instead of the usual 8%-10%) and nearly half the votes of union
Third, ask your supporters to contribute money -- with the emphasis on small donations. In the U.S., fewer than 3% of voters actually make such donations. Ask every supporter for a contribution, even if it's only a few dollars.
Fourth, get your supporters to leverage their influence. They can do so by contacting 10 or 20 or 30 friends to support your candidate. Give them a short, compelling reason for doing so. True, everyone has only one vote, but all of us can exert influence on family, friends, and neighbors.
Fifth, explain to your supporters exactly what you'd like them to do. Such activities may include activities like: putting up yard signs, making phone calls, going door-to-door in their neighborhood, writing e-mails to people who may be enthusiastic about your candidate.
In the case of William Russell, the 80,000 votes Diana Irey got in 2006 against Murtha is the Base. He will need an additional 25,000-plus votes, many of them basically taken away from Murtha.
That's enough for now. There will be more to come!