I’ve seen enough: Sen. Ed Markey (D) has defeated Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D) in the #MASEN Democratic primary.
— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) September 2, 2020
This is a signature moment, and you all know this one is close to my heart.
I did a phone-banking shift this morning, and I can tell you … I’ve never, ever gotten the kinds of enthusiastic, cheerful, even grateful responses from the folks on the list.
The first thing to do is congratulate the candidate, who — unbeknownst to our political press, for the most part — leveraged a career of constituency-building in under-appreciated areas, like climate change/environment and consumer protection; and otherwise cannily moved over the course of years to where the movements and enthusiasm were — a place he inhabited rather naturally, as if it were always where he wanted to be.
One cannot say enough about the guidance of campaign manager John Walsh, the Man Who Does Not Miss. Walsh comes at campaigns from a place of real dignity. Yes, he’ll throw a punch and fight hard; but he has to really believe in a candidate. On messaging, he doesn’t go with lame and petty arguments to score points in the news cycle. He goes with his his candidate’s best qualities; his best argument, his best line; and hammers away. And far more importantly, he simply believes in organization, sweat equity, and shoe leather — or, in this pandemic age, hoarse voices from phone-banking — which is a kind of Massachusetts-Democrat religion in the Mike Dukakis/Kate Donaghue mold.
Digital director Paul Bologna deserves an immense amount of credit as well, for encouraging and creating a free-wheeling, relentlessly positive and sometimes hilarious re-mythologizing of Markey — one based on a long history, after all. He corralled the energy of an astonishingly young, astonishingly self-possessed and emotionally intelligent group of campaign fellows. Fueled by enthusiasm for the planet-preserving, economy-reviving Green New Deal, they turned tweets and lofi-remixes into phone bank shifts and millions of calls, unleashing a tsunami of Gen-Z electoral power.
Out-of-state campaigns take note; consider if this formula is replicable for progressive candidates in your state. Again, you need a deeply credible candidate. You need a very steady hand at campaign manager, one who doesn’t ride the “pollercoaster”; doesn’t blow all your dough on consultants and lame, safe ads; and one who believes in the iron power of deep relational campaigning.
And your fans, your stans, your youthful leaders — the ones who have the most at stake in the future, after all — they need to be shown a good example and given a long leash of responsibility. They’ll get it done; they just did.