We love to swap war stories – it’s cathartic and oftentimes pretty funny. Here at CN4 the stories seem endless, and while I’m a sucker for the stories that pull on your heartstrings there are some pretty funny ones we thought we’d share as well.
Breann Pugnetti – Silver Lining
It was the summer of 2016, during the Republican National Convention to be precise, and I was out going door to door asking folks to register to vote. It was tough, most people were uninterested or not home but eventually a woman opened the door who just so happened to be watching the circus that was the Republican National Convention. She had never registered to vote- let alone actually voted. Her priority was making sure her two young kids got to school on time and always had food on the table. She didn’t have time to think about politics, and definitely didn’t think that her voice mattered. But that night, she knew that she couldn’t just ignore the hateful rhetoric and dangerous ideas playing out on the national stage. She filled out that registration form faster than I thought possible and profusely thanked me for knocking on her door. Turning in that form was one of the best parts of the 2016 election and I’ve been a big believer in field programs ever since.
Dean Nielsen – Solidarity
In 1997, I was part of the first team of American political consultants to work in Poland. Our client was AWS, which at the time was the electoral arm of the Solidarity (Solidarnosc) labor union. On our first night in Warsaw, some senior labor leaders took us to a local “authentic” restaurant with two Americans who were assisting their efforts – Mike Waske from the International Labor Organization and Scott Carpenter from IRI. When we entered the restaurant and were heading to the table, we passed by a table with some surly looking Russian men. Waske, being a dog lover, reached out as he was walking by to pat their dog on the head. Without seemingly moving a muscle, the dog, a Tibetian Mastiff, in one swift move mauled Waske’s hand to the point he had to be rushed to the hospital. The Russians were seemingly oblivious to the action of their dog, the blood, the screaming American labor leader and the general uproar it caused. Our hosts moved us to the table in the back out of sight and told
us to not say anything. Why? Because we were in the country mere hours and already had our first encounter with the Russian Mafia …. That’s when I knew this gig was gonna be a little different.
Oh, and we won control of the Sejm later that year in an upset victory, capturing 33% of the seats.
Michael Kolenc – These shoes are made for talking
Before sweatpants-on-bottom & nice-shirt-on-top pandemic-Zooming, I was known as the converse-wearing press guy who would wear suits and a tie but always rock the Converses. I think back to why I didn’t wear proper dress shoes during this and honestly I just think it was about keeping a bit of yourself when you’re on a campaign putting your entire heart into it.
On campaigns, it is so easy to get lost in the purpose – in fact, it is almost required. In 2014. I was managing a Fair Maps campaign in Illinois. Part of my job was to act as a spokesperson for the coalition’s effort, meaning I visited a lot of radio and TV stations. One interview – a Sunday-style news show on public television in the Quad Cities – was especially memorable. I dressed for the media interview like I usually do: putting on a suit and tie but maintaining my signature Converse sneakers.
This was certainly not the first TV interview I had done dressed like this, but it was the first interview where the frame consistently caught my shoes. Whoops. Fortunately for me, as noted by someone in the studio, I was not wearing white athletic socks!
As we are going through a PAINFUL redistricting process, I think about that 2014 campaign a lot. I also wonder what happened to those sneakers…
Parker Butterworth – These rainy days can’t get me down
Guess what the weather was like in Portland, Oregon in fall close to the 2010 general election? RAIN. HEAVY RAIN. And there I was. Out there with my clipboard of voter lists who’s only protection was a flimsy plastic sheet protector. I wasn’t protected any better as this was in my youth and, as a proud Pacific Northwesterner, I shunned umbrellas. At this point, I was approaching a year on-the-ground with the Kitzhaber 2010 campaign – the legendary comeback campaign which gave Governor John Kitzhaber a historic third term. It was also legendary as it was 2010 and there weren’t that many wins that year. I was on Team Finance for that campaign but at some point you have to talk to voters. So I walked, knocked, talked, stalked, and would sometimes do a shake to try to out maneuver the water that was surrounding me like I kicked a beehive. I loved every second of it. Folks are also pretty nice to you when you’re sopping wet at their doorstep.
For months, we had been inundated by the national press that 2010 was going to be a DISASTER, a blood bath, etc. And it was in a lot of places. But these last few days I’ve been thinking a lot about that race because we worked hard and we had an extraordinary candidate (who happened to jump off a debate stage to administer first aid to someone who was having a medical emergency!). We’ll have to channel that for this coming year but I know we can do it and we can get some big wins together.
Good storytelling wins elections. Let’s partner up on a project and make some more winning stories to share down the road. Give us a call or send us an email.