Ever played the game would you rather?
Have you had to pick between two choices knowing the either choice could leave you with battle scars? If you were to ask me “would you rather be a Candidate or a Campaign Manager” I can at least be thankful that I have done both and can make and informed decision.
So you go ahead ask me, ‘what would it be Rob, Candidate or Campaign Manager?’
As either the campaign manager or the candidate, the results on Election Day matter and they can be devastating if you take into consideration the work that has gone into the campaign. As a candidate the results are more personal – the candidate puts their heart and soul into the campaign. The campaign manager sees the wider scope of the election and has a sense of what the results might end up being. As the campaign manager you are bound to give the most positive take on the internal numbers to the candidate motivating the candidate to continue working doors, the phone calls and encouraging volunteers. In the end, both the candidate and campaign manager take pride in the campaign and the results that come with the results generated.
As a candidate it’s easy to block out other aspects of the campaign – the focus is purely on results and continuing to gun for the win, but don’t ever forget about the volunteers! It makes no sense for either the candidate or campaign manager change their motivation for the campaign from winning to the ‘best result possible’ as the entire team relies on them both for motivation. Volunteers can smell defeat, I have seen it before where either the candidate or the campaign manager feels that winning is no longer an option. The volunteers scattered to the wind. For the most part the volunteers will always defer to the campaign manager to report problems (though volunteers will always want to go to the candidate), provide advice and generally tell the campaign manager how to get a better result. BUT it should always go to the campaign manager to work with volunteers, welcome them, appreciate them and always show them love. The candidate should ensure that the one thing they do is THANK the volunteers if they do nothing else. As a campaign manager I’ve had to douse a few possible fires between volunteers – and all it takes is to listen and let the volunteer tell yousomething they feel is important – those volunteers will always come back.
As a candidate I rarely knew the state of the campaign financials, as a campaign manager that idea flipped over, I knew every aspect of campaign financials. What was spent, what was needed to be spent, will the campaign spend every dollar in the effort to win, and does the campaign leave the riding association money after Election Day? Working with the CFO (the money person), the campaign manager knows where every penny is. As the candidate I was given an overview, especially if money was needed. In 2018 election fundraising was given a U-Turn when the Wynne Liberals changed the laws so that candidates could notattend a fundraising event for their own campaign. I hope that the new PC Government will repeal this part of elections financing laws before 2022.
I would’ve liked to talk to more voters as a campaign manager in 2018; I was out for one day. The door is where you connect with the voter. I found that in 2018 I was in the office more than ever. The reasons? Meetings with campaign team members, training volunteers, answering phones and replying to emails. There was no end to the work that often found its way to my home after the campaign office closed, it seemed that for the campaign manager there was no time to canvass. In hindsight – I needed to make the time, schedule it in –make it work. Definitely, talking to voters was the best part of being a candidate. For all the ‘bad’ doors, one ‘good’ door made them all go away.
Debates; This one is tough, as the candidate you want to make a good show, get the message out and not have any ‘moments’ that will cause a wrinkle in the campaign. As the campaign manager I have to say I was right there with the candidate when questions were directed at her. Did we prep enough? Why didn’t we prep for this topic? Will the candidate remember what we talked about? Have we given enough context to the issue for the answer to be creditable? I think as a candidate you want to do all the debates, but realistically you can’t. For the 4 hours a debate takes out of a candidate’s schedule, many doors and meaning individual conversations can take place. In 2014, as a candidate there were two, yep, only two debates and in 2018 there were 10+ debates. 10 debates means more than 40 hours away from doors counting debate prep and the debate themselves, a full work week away from the doors. When the candidate is in a position of needing to be known, 40 hours away from doors is not practical. As a campaign manager I took the heat for not attending 6 debates, but as a candidate the debates where opportunities to shine.
Would I rather? Yes I would – to both!
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