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Unsolicited advice for senatorial candidates

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POSTED: May 29, 2014 3:33 p.m.
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Dick Yarbrough

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To David Perdue, Jack Kingston and Michelle Nunn: Congratulations on making it this far in your quests to become our newest U.S. senator. As you prepare for the next phases of your campaigns, I thought I would pass along to you some unsolicited advice for your consideration.
Please don’t thank me. It either was this or clean out my sock drawer.
Don’t tell anybody, because it might damage my reputation as a nattering nabob of negativism or whatever, but I think you all are capable of ably representing Georgia in the Senate. Of course, we know that with the exception of our soon-to-be senior senator, Johnny Isakson, and a precious few others, the performance bar isn’t all that high to begin with.
I have been around the political block enough times to know that most of what you say and do over the next few months will be dictated by inside-the-Beltway strategists who couldn’t find Hahira if you walked them to the city limits. They are going to do polls and focus groups and opposition analysis and the like. Because you are paying them big bucks, you will feel inclined to take their advice. Just remember, it’s not their fanny that’s on the line, it’s yours. They get paid whether you win or lose. Consultants are smart like that, but they don’t know everything. Trust your gut.
If they recommend robocalls, suggest to them that We the Unwashed hate, abhor and detest robocalls. Tell your strategists that you know, for a fact, that anybody who actually listens to a robocall is too dumb to vote and chew gum at the same time. Darkly hint to them that you have heard that a certain newspaper columnist is working on a device that will intercept robocalls and forward them to their house at dinnertime or when they are on the potty.
Of course, I haven’t figured out the details of how to make it work yet, but they don’t need to know that.
I wish there was some way you could promote your candidacies without going negative, but that is naïve on my part. Attack ads are a part of the game — always have been, always will be. For some reason, it seems to be difficult in politics to build yourself up without tearing your opponent down.  
Mr. Perdue and Rep. Kingston: Remember that whoever wins the Republican runoff election in July still has to run in the general election in November. Try not to do too much damage to each other over the next two months. Republicans have a well-known propensity for eating their dead.
Ms. Nunn: Your problem can be summed up in two words — Barack Obama. He’s not exactly a hot commodity in Georgia these days, and convincing voters you can be an effective senator without hewing the Democratic Party line is going to require a bit of political legerdemain. Be prepared for the rhetorical storm to come this summer from whoever your Republican opponent may be.
All of you have been in and around politics a long time, but I would be remiss not to remind you that while your work in Washington is important, don’t forget who put you there. D.C. lobbyists will fawn over you, buy you dinner and give you lots of money. That makes it difficult to want to come back home and get hammered by some cranky constituent at the Rotary Club over high taxes. Just remember that while politicians are a big deal in D.C., back here each of you is just one of us.
Most of all, give us good constituent service. We will forgive you a lot of things as long as you get us our overdue tax refund or our visa or drop a note to our Eagle Scout. It is amazing how many politicians in Washington forgot that critical fact and have paid the price, including several in Georgia.
Finally, please know that there are a lot of eyeballs across Georgia focused on this space each week from Ringgold to Rincon and a bunch of places in between. My readers are a cut above the average bear. If you would like to communicate with them at some point down the road, I will make the space available. If not, I will have no problem filling the information vacuum myself. My final piece of advice: I don’t think you want that.
Good luck to you all, and thank you for your willingness to get into the arena. May the best man — or woman — win.

Contact Yarbrough at yarb2400@bellsouth.net; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, GA 31139; online at dickyarbrough.com; or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dickyarb.

 

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