Sunday, May 17, 2009

Getting Fired

If you work on campaigns long enough, you will get fired. It might not even be a reflection on you.

It could be because you just didn’t “click” with a candidate. It could be that you didn’t complement their strengths and weaknesses (a candidate who is hard core fundraiser might need someone who stronger in field or communication). It sometimes happens that a candidate hires someone with similar strengths and realizes they needed someone with a little different personality or edge. Sometimes it’s the other way around – the candidate and manager just don’t share enough traits for the relationship to gel quite right.

Privately, folks can get angry about it. I have felt very aggrieved on behalf of colleagues who were given (I felt) a raw deal by their boss. And - I'll admit it - I've been fired. It sucked. I complained loudly and vociferously to my friends and family, but my complaints went no further than that.

Sometimes, you mess up. Sometimes you just have to be let go because you messed up. Sometimes, you have to be let go, even though you’re not at fault.

It’s a high press situation and everyone makes mistakes. Unless you burn your bridges in a brutal and public fashion (you see where I’m going with this?), it is always possible to come back.

James Carville was a nobody – he’d been a failure for years, when a gubernatorial candidate in Georgia named Zell Miller hired him in 1990. Two years later, he was shepherding President-Elect Clinton on his victory lap over George the First.

I already mentioned that Jim Jordan has gone to do some impressive work. Joe Trippi is still a top name in the business.

It’s always nice to see your name in the paper or on television, but the worst thing a campaign manager can do is become the story – and that goes for whether s/he is still with the candidate or has left or been fired.

Go home. Bitch to you friends. Advise your colleagues never to work for that candidate themselves. Do Wild Turkey shots for two hours, pass out and then get up in the morning and get on with your life.

Never trash the candidate publicly. Never go to the media and when the media calls, the following remarks are considered most appropriate, “no comment” or “though I will no longer be working for X’s campaign, I still believe in X’s vision for our community.”

Never become the story.

To name names, Peter Schorsch was on the road to coming back. Even after being fired by Jamie Bennett, he could have kept his head, kept his dignity and been back in the game.

There are second acts in politics (if you don’t believe me, I would draw your attention to a poll that says 51% of New York state voters would rather have Eliot Spitzer back as governor), but not if you burn down the theater.


At 5/21/2009 06:33:00 PM, Anonymous mrl said...

How do you tell when someone's new to political work? They've never been fired.

At 5/22/2009 09:05:00 AM, Blogger Campaign Manager said...

Very true – if you’ve never lost and never been fired, then you haven’t been doing this long, have only taken the safest jobs, never taken risks, and are probably a blood relative to every candidate you’ve worked for.

At 8/06/2009 04:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm looking for a campaign manager for a high-profile race..US Senate..if you know anyone in NY or Northeast, email me at


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