Chris Graham: Uphill battle for Andy Schmookler

You don’t have to read very far into Andy Schmookler’s counterpoint to see that he makes my point for me better than I ever could.

How does Schmookler, the Sixth District Democratic Party congressional nominee, think he will be able to compete in a race against an incumbent with a 10-1 money advantage?

People Power.

For the record, I’m all for People Power. A candidate should be able to hit the pavement, talk to voters, one-on-one or in small groups, build an army of volunteers who want to build the cause, and ride a wave of popular will to victory.

But then there’s the reality of modern-day American politics.

Sorry, Andy, but it just don’t happen that way.

If you want to have any chance of competing on Election Day, it takes money. A good case in point there is the Barack Obama campaign in 2008. Obama got his start in politics as a community organizer, so he knows People Power. He also knows modern American politics. A key to his success was having money not only for TV ads but also for staff, particularly people to hit the ground for months on end in battleground states including Virginia.

Just to be clear, that didn’t happen organically. The Obama campaign committed money resources to little ol’ Staunton, Waynesboro and Augusta County. The people put in place here by the campaign money did yeoman’s jobs recruiting volunteers to knock on doors, but the important factor was that there was money behind them putting them in place and supporting their efforts.

And that’s not considering the need for funding for TV, radio, newspaper and online advertising and hand-to-hand campaign literature, which typically takes up 55-60 percent of a campaign’s warchest.

For a challenger, in particular, advertising is essential to building the basics to the foundation for a successful campaign – first, name recognition, then a positive image of the candidate, and finally knowledge of the issues and solutions to problems offered by the candidate.

A certain number of people will pull the lever for a candidate because of the D or R beside their name. After that, they need to know that you exist, get a sense of who you are and then why they should hire you as opposed to the other guy.

If you can’t get them to know you in an ad, if all you have is yourself as the candidate and a few committed top-level volunteers to do the hand-to-hand campaigning, you’re fighting a nuclear war with a spitball and a rubber band.

I’m not casting aspersions on Andy Schmookler. I have had the pleasure to sit down with him for several on-camera interviews, and have found him in both the interviews and our chats outside the formal realm to be engaging, passionate and a brilliant thinker who would represent the Sixth District well in the Congress if he were to be elected.

I just happen to think that he has the proverbial snowball’s chance in hell of seeing that happen.

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