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October 25, 2006 | South Carolina Headlines


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Don't forget the roots
Jonathan Pait
October 21, 2002

There is a word for many Greenville County Republicans. It is, “unmotivated.” While there could be any number of reasons for this, one of reasons can be traced squarely back to the Sanford for Governor Campaign.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Though The Common Voice discussion section has been taken over recently by some folks who think Sanford is the next worse thing to a draft dodger, the editor is a Sanford supporter. He will get my vote on Nov. 5th. However, loyalty should not trump constructive criticism.

The Sanford organization claims that it is running a grass roots campaign. The future Governor (couldn’t resist that one) said as much himself on Friday night’s interview on WYFF News Channel 4.

It looks like the roots are getting a little stressed here in Greenville County.

Can anyone remember a Greenville County Republican event that Sanford attended and stayed for any amount of time? I’m not saying he hasn’t attended any, but I can say he has not attended many.

Much of this can be traced back to the campaign’s strategy to get the candidate out in areas where Sanford can meet the most people. The instructions from the campaign to the activists, “If you have an event that will expose Mark to the most public we'll try to be there.” However, the flip side to that is if you are having a “fire up the workers” type of gathering, don’t count on seeing him.

The good side to this is that it puts most of the candidate’s time at events that expose him to the broader public. The down side is that it can lead to some unmotivated activists. A grass roots campaign is like centipede. You plug it in good soil and then watch it run. Before it can take off, you have to make sure the plug is well cared for.

Campaigns are the same way. A motivated core group of activists can do more than a single candidate or million dollar plus ad campaign. However, they aren’t going to be motivated if you ignore them.

Yes, we know, Sanford doesn’t like being run by the political machine. Yes, we can’t blame him for trying to distance himself somewhat from the fiasco that was the Republican Party.

However, remember, the Republican Party is more than just an organization in Columbia. It is people; people who have worked in the trenches for years to build a platform on which Sanford could run. Don’t ignore them. Whether you like it or not, you are their figurehead.

I went down to the Victory 2002 office on Friday to pick up some yard signs. There were piles of signs—but none with Sanford on them. I asked a worker about it and said, “Well, I hope it is because so many people have been picking them up.” He replied, “They have been but it is also because we didn’t have many to start with.”

Mr. Sanford, in this hyped up media driven world, don’t forget the roots. Two weeks is plenty of time for some well watered grass to spread.

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