How to lose an election and take your friends with you in 10 easy steps – Part 2
If you haven’t already availed yourself of it, please read Part 1.
6. Send out the worst mailers I’ve ever seen.
And by “worst,” I mean sending out blank postcards would’ve been exponentially better than the drivel they produced.
The raison d’etre of a campaign mailer is to get the voter to read the candidate’s last name, the office and perhaps one bullet point in the 10 seconds it takes to get from the mailbox to recycling. And you do that by keeping it very simple.
When I posted that postulate on Facebook, a commenter joked, “Why not send a mailer that simply says “Jones for Mayor.” Why not, indeed! It would actually be a very effective piece.
But instead of following that most basic rule, Joe Stanton followed in Melville’s footsteps by sending a series of pre-planned mailers that all started with, “Call me Ishmael.” Put more simply, they were:
- Way too wordy
- Written by Yoda – “Vote for me, you will!”
- So small they got lost in the junk mail
- Mean spirited
- Factually inaccurate
And they said nothing positive about candidate Tom Simonian. My favorite was the mailer that read:
Current and former alderman supporting Tom for Mayor – 9
Current and former alderman supporting the current mayor – 0
Someone needs to buy Joe a dictionary because he clearly doesn’t understand the difference between the words “support” and “endorse.” So not only did this mailer set off the kind of firestorm that kills a candidate, but four aldermen immediately endorsed Mayor Burns as a result.
In a bleepin’ hilarious hoist by your own petard irony, those “sudden” endorsements forced Stanton to pull his final mailer. It takes real effort to be that incompetent.
7. Use EDDM so your terrifying mailers scare non-voters into voting against you
For the uninitiated, EDDM, or Every Door Direct Mail, is a sometimes lower-cost Post Office mailing methodology that hits every residence on a postal route or Zipcode. It’s a great way for that new pizza place to reach out to their neighbors, but it’s not the best political tool because:
- It’s rarely less expensive than using targeted mailing lists
- It’s addressed to “Current Resident” instead of the “The Smith Family.”
- Most of it goes to people who don’t vote in local elections
- If you don’t understand mail routes, it can go to out-of-district families.
To put that in a Geneva perspective, if you send junk mail to Mill Creekers who don’t vote in local elections, it’s probably not going to help your cause.
But just when you think Stanton could possibly screw up more, EDDM turned out to be the nail in Simonian’ mayoral coffin! Did any of you notice the 2017 Geneva turnout? That’s right! It was a record 38 percent! That’s twice the typical number of voters.
Stanton’s mailers were so terrifying that he managed to accomplish something that no one else has. He actually got people who don’t vote in local elections to go to the polls. The problem was, they all voted against Simonian and anything he touched.
This is, bar none, the best shoot yourself in the foot campaign I’ve ever seen. Even Hilary Clinton is jealous!
Sadly, that also meant great candidates like Alderman Ron Singer and city council hopeful Mike Oleson were swept away by the anti-Simonian tide. The only alderman who survived the bloodbath was Rich Marks who was smart enough to ignore Stanton and listen to the right people.
I also may have mentioned that library Marketing Director Paula Krapf should send Simonian a thank you card. He’s the only reason that referendum passed.
8. Send out a Moby Dick closing statement
Forced to pull their final pre-planned mailer by those eminently predictable aldermanic Burns endorsements, Stanton sent out an 8.5 by 11 mailer instead. Joe actually told someone, “People read paragraphs, not bullet points.”
That’s about as a bad as it gets folks.
Voters will never read a full page diatribe and it didn’t even make it to my west side neighborhood.
9. Offer absolutely nothing positive
Negativity does not play well at the local level so I refuse to run negative campaigns. When confronted with an opponent who goes low, my consistent advice to my candidates is to shut up and let them talk.
That Kane County Democrat’s mailer supporting Burns should’ve been his swan song.
Had Stanton and Simonian simply kept their mouths shut and let the Mayor hang himself – something at which he’s quite adept – they would’ve run away with it. But like I said, Joe Stanton never gets tired of being wrong.
10. Continue to listen to Joe Stanton when it he’s only interested in using your money to exact revenge
Simonian’s campaign had nothing to do with getting him elected and everything to do with Stanton getting back at Burns. I’m not sure exactly what broke up our dynamic duo, but it must’ve been a doozy!
In the end, Simonian spent $40,000 to lose by two points more than Bob McQuillian did in 2013. And McQuillian only spent $3,000!
Like I said, this kind of rare incompetence takes a real effort and it would’ve been far funnier to watch had Stanton not taken some really good people down with Simonian.
To summarize, the Simonian “campaign” was the worst I’ve ever seen. Kevin Burns didn’t win this one, Joe Stanton lost it. And that comes from someone who’s covered and run campaigns for 11 long years.
But all is not lost my astute friends! Perhaps this debacle will be the stake in the heart of Joe Stanton. His consistent single-handed effort to destroy Geneva for his own personal gain has finally been exposed.