So, how do you take a candidate who has lived only a short time in a city, who has never held elected office there and is virtually unknown and get him to the top of the pack in the first round of voting for mayor? That’s what I wanted to know when Carol Reed, political consultant for candidate Tom Leppert, called me back yesterday.
“Magic,” she said.
Hey, I’m no fool. I work for the Dallas Observer...um...anyway, I’m no fool. I know how to ask a tough follow-up. “Really?, ” I asked.
“I got out my magic wand...and poof,” she replied.
If only that were so.
It’s a damn sight more interesting than the real answer, which Reed offered up after I asked her why her wand wasn’t able to help out previous mayoral candidate Tom “Remember That Guy?” Dunning. The truth, she said, is discipline and organization. Avoid distractions. Don’t become over emotional. Pick a message and stay on it -- in Leppert’s case, that message appears to be, “School good. Crime bad.”
That’s a good message, I suppose, though a lot less entertaining than a magic wand, or Laura Miller’s general message of, “I’m right. You’re an idiot.”
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“Most of these campaigns are not lost because you didn’t have a plan,” Reed said. It's because the plan wasn't followed.
So Leppert stays on message and is sooooo nice and wasn’t distracted by attacks and ran a very disciplined campaign -- holy crap, what are we at the paper version of Unfair Park going to do if Leppert wins? Put Schutze out to grass? Start writing about DISD again? (Shudder.)
I also asked Reed if her stock as a political consultant was up since the election. Not really, she said. She’s been in the consulting biz long enough that one election won’t make or break her reputation, though local elections like this one require mucho time and effort. Luckily for us, she’s also been around long enough that she doesn’t let the occasional snarky comment in the Observer bother her, though she was curious why Matt Pulle referred to her as the “princess of darkness,” since she doesn’t do negative campaigning.
Well, we consider “princess of darkness” a compliment, so Pulle meant well. Or maybe it’s because of that magic wand. --Patrick Williams