Political Strategy Session
We had a political strategy session the other day and came up with the following advice for the gubernatorial candidates.
You need to get active and stay active on the campaign trail. You’ve developed a pattern of doing something affirmative and then disappearing for weeks. Not good. Take nothing for granted this year.
You need to talk issues, not personal stuff. Nobody needed to know that Mario was a virgin when he got married and that he didn’t want to take you to a ball game when you were a kid. Why go there?
You need to control your people. While you endeavor to build relationships with those you’ll need to govern, they continue to say stupid things: “We’ll take Silver out if he doesn’t play ball … It really wouldn’t be such a bad thing if the Senate went back to the Republicans … Wilson would do a better job than DiNapoli.” Not smart.
Lastly, you must begin the process now of finding the right personnel to lead the government. Don’t repeat the Spitzer mistake. Hard-charging prosecutors rarely make good administrators, negotiators and policy experts. You need new blood. You need sharp people who know the government and who won’t be afraid to disagree with you when you are wrong.
You need to understand that you are probably not going to win. There is no shame in that as long as you go down fighting for something that is important and meaningful.
You should forget about the mosque issue. Arthur Finkelstein is wrong about that. Instead, pick three affirmative issues and pound them. Try a middle income tax cut, the elimination of drivers’ license fees and subsidized genetic screening for breast cancer.
Be a decent, honorable man on the campaign trail — not an attack dog. In fact, don’t be negative at all. Let the other guy do that. You should only talk about issues that resonate with ordinary folks, and the highest ideals of the Republican Party. In fact, you should make your campaign a party building exercise. Help redefine the party so that it has a chance to win in coming years.
New Yorkers expect you to be scrappy and outrageous, and you must not disappoint them.
Be aggressive with Cuomo. You’ll actually be doing a public service by testing the man. But make sure your attacks are well conceived. In this regard, here’s an idea for you: For years, Cuomo was best buddies with Charlie Rangel. They did all kinds of deals while Cuomo was at HUD. They appeared together dozens of times. Get the footage from those events and cut a commercial that links the two men.
Yes, go after Cuomo, but also understand that you need to stand FOR something. You need a big idea. In this regard, why not link your campaign to Ed Koch’s (and Mario Cuomo’s) campaign for independent redistricting and reform in Albany.
Think about this: You can blow $10 million on self-aggrandizing ads and people will laugh at you behind your back. Or, you can spend the money to advance a big idea to improve the state. If you do that, you’ll be a folk hero when you’re done.