How Challenger Candidates Maximize Money, Media, Message and Management
by Joseph R. Gaylord
From the look of it so far, 2010 may be the year of the challenger. With an anti-establishment sentiment percolating, the environment is ripe for new candidates willing to take on entrenched pols.
One specialist in challenger campaigns is Joseph Gaylord, Newt Gingrich’s longtime political adviser, who had a hand in the 1994 Republican takeover. This June, Gaylord is releasing his second book on challenger campaigns, “Campaign Solutions,” in time for the run up to the midterms.
Gaylord’s book is best described as a bare bones manual. There is no narrative and no gossip—something that is unusual in political books these days. Instead, chapters focus on strategy, research, Web site, advertising, and speech making. Each chapter begins with how-to advice, ends with how-not-to warnings, and includes evaluation sheets. In the middle are bite-size, easily digestible nuggets of information.
For example, Gaylord breaks down the “5 C’s in successful contemporary challenger campaigns” in the first chapter on what characteristics a candidate should possess: confidence, creativity, contrast, controversy, and capital. He follows that up with the characteristics that make a weak candidate: thin skin, big head, weak vision, and faint heart.
In some respects, Gaylord’s style and the structure of the book come off as almost rhetorical. He is prone to jargon and heavy phrases that aren’t fully explained. When he talks about strategy, for example, Gaylord writes that “to be good at strategy, you have to learn to think backward” and “it’s important to develop a strategy that creates all kinds of synergy.” He doesn’t elaborate much on either of these points before moving on.
If you’re a first time candidate or someone considering taking on an incumbent, however, the book provides an easy to read and bullet-pointed guide to setting up your campaign—or at least thinking about how your campaign will run. And that’s clearly the idea behind the book: American Solutions will be distributing at its first inaugural candidate training session in New Hampshire on June 21.
How Democrats Can End the Republican Party and Rule the Next Generation
By Dylan Loewe
While Joseph Gaylord’s book (left) focuses on the short-term—how to elect Republicans this year— Dylan Loewe’s looks to the next generation, when he believes the Republican Party will be practically extinct.
“Permanently Blue,” due out in September, argues that the Democrats have an opportunity to reign over U.S. government for the next generation—24 years—something that has never been done before. “There are moments—once, maybe twice a century— when a political party can operate so dysfunctionally that it can find itself marginalized into long-term minority status—into spending an entire generation out of power,” Loewe writes. “For today’s Republican Party, this is one of those moments.”
Loewe breaks his argument down to three points: The GOP is “collapsing on itself,” demographic changes benefit Democrats, and the Democrats, under President Obama, have cultivated an unrivaled political operation.
The latter two of these points is somewhat uncontroversial, but the first is a tough sell since the Republican Party appears to be heading toward major gains in both chambers of Congress. Even Loewe acknowledges as much, and reasons that the 2010 midterms are just a speed bump on the way to Democratic dominance.
Herein lies the problem with this and many other partisan books: They sound too familiar. Loewe spends the first chapter recounting the GOP’s missteps since the 2008 election: all of them. It is the sort of thing you’d fi nd on the Huffi ngton Post, which isn’t surprising since Loewe is a frequent contributor. But it feels old and unoriginal. The left will love it; the right will dismiss it as liberal ranting.
Where Loewe is more convincing is in his breakdown of redistricting and demographics. While it is easy to get sucked into the 24-hour news cycle, Loewe’s book is a good reminder to take the long view of politics. From that perspective, the Democrats have certain indisputable advantages.