This week’s Courier Herald column:
Senator Michael Williams, a Forsyth County Republican, apologized last week for
his 2018 gubernatorial campaign. In a
detailed Facebook post, Williams seemed to characterize his recent guilty plea
for filing a false police report just before the Republican primary as a campaign
“Let me be clear. I DID NOT
commit insurance fraud. I DID NOT steal my own servers. I DID NOT authorize the
stealing of my servers or any variation thereof. I DID NOT break the law. I AM
taking responsibility for campaign strategy mistakes and not putting a timely
end to my campaign.” Williams
The focus of his note, especially
for those looking for a political lesson, is a cautionary tale for candidates
who are able to self-fund a campaign to be wary of political consultants. Williams indicates he knew his campaign was a
long shot, and had “three prerequisites” he wanted to accomplish before
entering the race.
“Instead, I allowed my pride, ego and bad
advice, to persuade me that I had a solid chance in the governor’s race.
Knowing I didn’t have the name ID, the political network or the money, I
subjected my ability to mount a statewide campaign to three qualifying
prerequisites that would help overcome these shortcomings.”
campaign relied on media stunts of making unfounded claims against other
candidates, attempting to organize a protest at a Cherokee County High School,
and featuring a “deportation bus” that broke down in a simultaneous display of
foreshadowing and karma. The campaign
was an embarrassment to Republicans and Georgians, with Williams rewarded with
a last place primary finish.
campaign is now part of history. His
experience should be a warning to others.
It takes no
specific professional training to become a political consultant. One only needs the skill to persuade a
potential candidate to sign up. Some
consultants have demonstrated the power to turn an everyday citizen into an
elected official. Others demonstrate the
power to separate otherwise successful people from their children’s future inheritance.
himself, in retrospect, knows the tools to his own campaigns demise began with
him. Pride and ego are powerful
things. They can and are often used to
convince a civic-minded individual that only he or she can fix a broken
world. They often begin with lofty and
high minded goals and standards. Once a
check is written for seed money, compromises for viability begin.
ultimately responsible, but mistakes are often an exercise of not knowing what they
don’t know. Successful in other fields,
many are completely unsophisticated in the business of politics.
Years ago I met
a doctor who claimed he had been recruited into a Congressional race by the
Republican members of the Congressional delegation. After talking to him (and discovering who he
had hired as his consultant) I believe he believed that. He had not been, and at least one of the
members went on record saying he had not.
It was an
expensive lesson for him, and a profitable one for his consulting team. That candidate hasn’t been heard from in
political circles since. Consultants are
able to just move on to their next mark.
While one would
think this process would eventually be exposed, the current environment makes
it easier, not harder, to get inexperienced candidates to write checks for the
opportunity to start elective office at the top. Our President, after all, entered the White
House the first time he put his name on the ballot. So did Georgia’s junior Senator.
no longer required. For too many
candidates, however, wisdom comes from a bad experience, and that bad
experience comes from pride, ego, and ultimately, bad judgment.