Campaign Diary – Preparing for the Big Day
January 24 – Well tomorrow is the big day. Our campaign team has worked hard to prepare for it. I’ll announce to the world what has been one of the worst-kept secrets in town: that I’ll be running for county commissioner in Frederick County. What the citizens don’t see, but the politicians do, is that it takes a village to raise a candidate.
My team includes a campaign manager, Amanda Haddaway, who ran a successful campaign for alderman of The City of Frederick; and Tim Winter, who is my campaign treasurer. The most important thing for a candidate is to find the best people, and people whom you trust. I can say without hesitation that my teammates are the best at what they do, and people whom I trust – trust being my most important criterion.
So, today was spent going over the last-minute preparations – reviewing guest lists and invitations; calling for confirmation on a few of the scheduled events; making sure we have the supplies we need for every event; and sending out thank you cards to those who have donated to the campaign thus far.
At home at dinner this evening, my wife Brenda cooked a great meal and we talked about how big a day tomorrow will be for all of us. My daughters seem most excited that I’ll be in the newspaper this week. They like to see me there, and I’ve told them that sometimes people will criticize me, but my hope is that people are not personal in their criticisms, either in public or in private. They’re the ones that I lose respect for.
January 26, 2010 – The Big Day
So today is the big day. All the preparations of the last few weeks culminate today. And so we begin….
8:20 A.M. – the Morning News Express with Bob Miller on WFMD (am930).
I first met Mr. Miller at a Fredericktowne Rotary Dinner a few months back, and subsequently have gone up to him at many public events that he and I have attended. This helped me get over any nervousness I may have had before our radio conversation this morning. It was my first time inside the studio, and I was surprised by how…intimate the studio actually is. It’s so small, that there’s no room for complaint.
The 10 minutes actually went by very quickly. Mr. Miller asked me some good questions about my candidacy and my views on certain issues. He’s a true professional, and we had a good time with the interview. We talked off-air about the campaign and the potential list of other candidates.
One of the things that I didn’t expect was how many people called me and emailed me to tell me that they heard me on the radio. Everyone was supportive and encouraging. One friend (and former local political wonk) offered me some great tips for my next radio appearance, which was great.
10:15 A.M. – Urbana Regional Branch Library
More than a few people asked me why I chose the Urbana Regional Branch Library as my next stop. The main reason is that the library has been a lifelong destination for me. I was the only first grader chosen to go to the local branch library with the second graders on their field trip. I remember that day vividly: the smell of the library and all of its books; the fluorescent lighting; and the book I took out: a biography of President George Washington.
The second reason is that as a current member of the Board of Trustees for the Frederick County Library System, I felt that it was important to remind people the importance of libraries in our society. This was important for me to exhibit this to my children and other students throughout the county.
The gathering was great because it was really for my closest friends in business and in the community. I was pleased with their support and their comments during the time we spent together. I realized while I was talking to them that these are going to be my staunchest supporters, and I value their friendship.
12 Noon – Lunch at Danielle’s
I invited about 10 local leaders from various organizations to a lunch so that I could ask them two questions: what are the issues going to be for 2010, and what advice do they have for me in this campaign? I can’t emphasize enough how invaluable this power lunch was. I was like a sponge soaking up all of their collective wisdom and took to heart all of their suggestions.
One of the things that I appreciated most was how giving everyone at the table was with their advice and suggestions. They each spoke from experience, and one thing that I took from the meeting was to listen, meet people, and gather as much information as possible.
3:00 P.M. – The Blaine Young Show on WFMD
I was strongly considering bringing a bottle of Crown Royal to this discussion. I know that this is something that Mr. Young and I have in common, though he likes his with Diet Coke, and I like mine neat. So we talked off-air about that and had a laugh.
When it was time to begin, I knew Mr. Young would have trouble pronouncing my last name. I’d heard from various sources that he was practicing prior to my appearance (which I appreciated hearing). Armed with this information, I thought I’d begin our discussion by saying roughly the following: “Well, Blaine, I have made a decision that will, I feel, help my campaign. I have decided to change my last name to ‘Young’. It worked for your dad, and it’s working for you.” We had a good laugh about that.
One thing that many listeners may not know is that – at least with me – both Mr. Miller this morning and Mr. Young this afternoon did not go over any questions with me, nor did I submit questions. These were not rehearsed conversations. On the contrary, these radio appearances were unrehearsed and un-programmed. I loved it! Even though I am not a seasoned veteran of radio appearances, I do enjoy the immediacy of these conversations. Besides, no matter what question is asked, a candidate should be prepared with a response.
With this in mind, it is important to note that at the time of my appearance, Mr. Young had just submitted his application for the vacant county commissioner seat in Frederick County. So, after getting the pronunciation of my last name, he went right into firing questions at me that were straight out of the application for the vacant commissioner seat. It was great – more formal that I’d expected, but I was very pleased with his decision to do that. It was what any voter would want to know about me as a candidate.
After my appearance, we talked off air about a few things, and I wished him luck with his efforts.
4:00 P.M. – Café Nola
We scheduled one final event for the day at Café Nola. This was chosen as a site that would make it a central location for city and county businesspeople and citizens. We had a great turnout, and I spoke to everyone individually, and to the whole group for about five-to-eight minutes. Our supporters were great, and the hors d’oeuvres were scrumptious.
There was one moment while I was speaking to the whole group that was a strange for me: I’m standing there talking to the group, and telling them my reasons for becoming a candidate. I’m holding out my right hand, thumb over the other fingers, like Bill Clinton and John McCain. So there are two things going on: I’m talking, and I am exhibiting a political gesture with my hand. Then a third thing enters my mind: why am I holding out my right hand like I’ve seen other politicians do? Now I have three things going on, all while I’m talking to the group. All of this occurred in a few seconds, and I snapped out of it quickly. Very surreal.
5:45 P.M. – Frederick Indoor Soccer Club
There was nothing scheduled here, except that I coach my daughters in indoor soccer, and I ended the day by doing so. As I told my wife Brenda later, I couldn’t think of a better way to end this big day.