Sunday, November 18, 2007


A lot of people in the U.S. believe Congressman John Murtha of Pennsylvania's 12th District is unbeatable -- that he's the abominable "Beast of the East." However, in politics NO ONE IS UNBEATABLE.

Do you remember when Congressman Thomas Foley of Oregon was a national powerhouse? Well, in the 1990s Foley was beaten by George Nethercutt.

Or do you recall Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota? He was for year the Majority Leader of the Democrats in the U.S. Senate. But he was beaten by John Thune.In New Mexico.

Heather Wilson supposedly had no chance of winning. The district she’s in (Albuquerque) is 43% Hispanic, and the Democrats ran extremely well-financed Hispanic-American candidates against her. But Heather Wilson won both those races – and now she’s running for the U.S. Senate and probably will win that race also.

Or think back to the 1990 race of Christine Todd (“Christy”) Whitman against Senator Bill Bradley, often mentioned in those days as sure-thing for the Democratic presidential nomination. In that race, Bill Bradley spent $11 million. Christy Whitman spent $900,000 – about one-twelfth as much as Bradley. She did very few TV ads, relying mostly on radio “chats.” She didn’t win. In fact, she lost by a scant two points, but she ended Bradley’s visions of a presidential candidacy.

What about William Trower Russell in his battle with Murtha? One key to his winning is to lock up support from people who have a lot of influence in the district.I’m not really referring to affluent people, although their support can be valuable – and their contributions are necessary.

Instead, I’m talking about people who have a lot of contact with others.Lately, I’ve been talking about woman named “Mel,” who is a hair stylist during the day and a bartender during the evenings at a popular Jamestown, PA night-spot. She’s thinking of going back to college.

Mel is pretty, funny, smart, and a great communicator. She’s an extremely social human being. She also likes what she hears about Lt. Col. William Russell.

Why are the Mels of the world important in political campaigns? Because they're the true "opinion leaders" of our time. Over the course of a year people like here have contact with thousands of individuals, most of them voters. People who go to nice restaurants and top hair stylists are exactly the kind of individuals who vote. They also talk politics.

William Russell needs to target individuals who have a lot of contacts. They include hair stylists, barbers, bartenders, police personnel, real estate agents, insurance agents, ministers, priests, and rabbis. If they think well of a candidate, they’ll tell their friends, neighbors, and customers.

The key is to ask highly social people for their support – and give them a clear reason to do so. Also, ask them for help. Specifically, request that they talk to people about the importance of spreading the word.

One problem with Mel: she’s not registered to vote. That’s easily rectified. In fact, there are tens of thousands of people in the 12th Congressional District who are either not registered or just don’t vote often. If most such people were inclined to register and vote for Murtha, they’d have done so.

But they haven’t. Why? Because they recognize that Murtha symbolizes everything that’s unsavory about modern politics.

Nearly every day between now and the Nov. 5, 2008 election, William and his supporters will run into several people like Mel. The key is to get them registered (if necessary) and to have them serve as advocates for the Russell campaign.

he race won’t ever be easy, but with enough “Mels” behind him William Trower Russell can win. To that end, people like Mel are his secret weapons.

Note: For those of you who are fans of national security writer Jack Kelly -- and I hope a lot of you are -- see his Sunday, November 18 column. He identifies the "big loser" in the Iraq War. No, it's not George W. Bush. Instead, it's Osama bin Laden, who put all his eggs in Iraq and now doesn't have enough left to make an omelette.

No comments: