WINNING is Everything

Some things are pretty much assured for 2018.

Here’s two locks: The Patriots and the refs will win another Super Bowl. Our president will bleed another 30 percent or so of value out of the increasingly wilting greenback.

Those are predictable outcomes. Less predictable: Who among us will take a chance and run, like the wind, in a 2019 campaign?

Admit it—you’ve thought about it. Perhaps you took your family bible to Council chambers during HROpalooza, brandishing it at folks to ensure their eternal salvation, like Donald Trump playing the Flying Nun.

Or perhaps you just read one too many contrarian columns, and—with REAL EMOTION—decided you were going to be the change agent, that solitary bulwark against a stakeholder class that can buy and sell you like so many Best Bet chips.

Or maybe people told you that you should run for office. It happens; someone’s always the smartest guy at the bar.

Well, if you’re looking at a run for office, has Leadership Jacksonville got a deal for you! For only $1,500 in 2018 money, you can take a five-week course with former council president/perpetual lobbyist Alberta Hipps and John Daigle, the political operative best known in recent history for a rousing victory over the cadaver that proxied for Matt Shirk in his last campaign.

What if you don’t have $1,500? What then? Are you out of luck?

Not this time. A.G. is your hookup, as the kids say.

Holla if you hear me.

In the next 500 words or so, I’m going to give you some secrets on how to run—and how to win.

You may be skeptical. You may never have worked a years-long economic development grift on the city. You may never have once overbilled Medicaid or laundered money for Queen Corrine. And you may have never busted a demon or prayed to “break every soul tie and vow that has been established between President Obama and Harvard, secret societies and the Illuminati.”

What’s past is past; I am an optimist and I know you are, too, so, in that spirit, let’s look toward the future.

Here’s how to win bigly in a J-ville race.

Some truths are universal: It’s “Mr. Khan” and “Mr. Rummell,” always. And pledge to be sure to see how everyone else votes before you hit the green button. And if you ever get caught in a jam, say you’re praying on it, because the rubes eat that up.

And while knowing only that much is enough to win some campaigns (it’s a low bar here in Dirty Duval, and it’s even worse in the outskirts), you may need to bring a little extra to wrangle key demographics.

Let’s suppose your base is the Evangel Temple/First Baptist set. You don’t need to go Too Far; like, don’t talk about papists or anything retro like that. But if you’re asked about the Human Rights Ordinance expansion, set your jowls to quiver (you certainly will have jowls, because you’re probably 65 and between cardiac episodes) and maunder about how the law is an affront to small businesses and how Lenny shoulda stopped it.

You can also work the defender of Confederate monuments shtick. This is especially great if you’ve never even thought about joining the military, as you can posit a false moral equivalency between a revolutionary force designed to protect slavery (“War between the states,” you’ll say, like new-school Foghorn Leghorn), and American forces deployed, for all eternity, in places that would stump anyone in geography class if such things existed in schools these days.

Not looking to pander to the right? Well, you’re in luck. The left is also ripe for the picking, even though they don’t usually turn out to vote in equal numbers.

There will be a purity test. What you need to do is outflank the loudest voices in the room. Don’t just say you want to take down the monuments—rent a backhoe and get the job done yourself. There may be jail time but, rest assured, it’ll be worth it, assuming you can plead down to a misdemeanor.

And let’s suppose you’re a centrist. Easy-peasy.

You can find a way to pander to both sides at once, say you back a “study” of whatever issue, or that We Need To Have A Conversation.

And if the city needs a bond issue to make one donor or another happy with a public private partnership, well … what is it the kids say?


Try not to mix and match these approaches. People are confused easily enough as it is. But if you hew to the path, you may find yourself getting sworn in in 2019.

Just remember, though: it’s Mr. Khan. And Mr. Rummell.