I don’t have a pony in the Hillary Clinton v. Donald Trump horserace.
I believe they are two sides of the same coin: Big government New Yorkers who would both borrow as much money as possible to expand the enforcement state until their generation passes on from this sphere.
My position on Trump has been documented in this space.
He speaks to class resentment, the clarion voice of white people for whom white skin privilege comes with ever-diminishing returns.
A smart man with a Wharton education, he dumbs it down as aggressively as any candidate imaginable.
And, despite all of this, he effectively is neck and neck with Clinton in Florida polls and in more recent national polls.
This, despite the fact that he has no real ground game in Florida — not much in the way of campaign offices, not much in the way of media — and Clinton has run a traditional campaign, with “ground game” and infrastructure and all the rest.
People keep asking me why I think Trump will beat Clinton — it is the question I inevitably get when speaking at forums.
My answer is simple. For all of the infrastructural advantages Clinton has, the one thing the campaign lacks is a liked candidate.
Obama’s line from the campaign of 2008 — “you’re likable enough” — is one of those backhanded disses that stuck because it was truer than intended, like Curry saying about Alvin Brown, “I like you. You’re a nice guy. But you’re an awful mayor.”
It’s not essential to me that candidates be likable.
My favorite politician, as an academic subject, was Richard Nixon. I even have a Nixon key chain and T-shirt.
Part of that fascination was rooted in the whole idea that Nixon wasn’t likable, but got to the pinnacle anyway.
Turns out, of course, that he looks like Jack Benny compared to Hillary Clinton.
Nixon went on Laugh-In. Nixon gave plays to coach George Allen and the Washington franchise in the Super Bowl. Nixon made Elvis, in a darkly humorous touch, an honorary DEA Agent.
Clinton’s idea of a joke? Robby Mook as a campaign manager.
I’m sure that there are some great jokes and wonderful insights inside of her thousands of missing emails.
But Clinton’s public persona, despite spending four decades with the best retail politician of the modern era, has the verve of the voice from a smoke alarm.
What difference does it make?
Well, it’s one reason Clinton can lose.
And another such reason is a product of Jacksonville’s political culture: Susie Wiles, called a “veteran operative” by the press as it was announced that she took over running the Florida operation from the seemingly perpetually-overmatched Karen Giorno.
Wiles just sold you the pension tax — er, County Referendum 1.
You didn’t see her out front too much, but she coordinated the operation in those subtle ways that got 65 percent of those who cast ballots to go all in.
Wiles also helped get that slot machine referendum through City Council.
By 10 minutes into a special committee meeting, Reggie Gaffney was asking if there was any way that referendum could be fast tracked.
What else has Wiles gotten over lately?
How about Al Lawson, your next congressman from Congressional District 5?
Wiles managed to introduce Lawson to the media – a connection, beyond a friendship of some standing, was Wiles’ firm, Ballard Partners, asking her to make intros.
Corrine Brown failed in Duval, getting just 60 percent.
Twqenty percent went to LJ Holloway, 20 percent to Lawson, who won the whole election by 9 percent.
If Brown had delivered Duval, if Wiles hadn’t been throwing lead blocks for Lawson, that all could have gone differently.
Wiles has about eight weeks to win Florida for Trump.
Rolling out the ground game by the end of September — that’s a must. Especially in these gloriously gerrymandered districts in NE Florida, the kinds of Republicans who like to knock on doors will be happy to do so just to stop Clinton.
Wiles will make sure the field operations are on point. Trump putting her over Florida is a calculated decision; like giving the ball to a running back in the last drive of the 4th quarter, there is a realization that the inchoate style of most of the campaign needs to be faded in favor of playing the percentages.
I guest lectured some months back at a class Wiles was teaching at Jacksonville University’s Public Policy Institute. Those students were lucky to be learning politics from a master of the game.
Those reading this who are close to the Clinton operation need to heed the following.
Whatever you may think about Trump and his batshit quote of the day, keep in mind that the person running his Florida operation sees the whole field, and has a career’s worth of experience making chicken salad from…