I visited with Scott Jacobs today, originally to confirm that it was one of his employees pictured on Virginia Virtucon taking down one of Jeanine Lawson’s signs. Scott was still in the midst of trying to figure out what to do in the wake of his campaign essentially coming to an abrupt end after neglecting to file as a candidate for the Mass Meeting on time, while blogs were breaking the story of the latest campaign screw-up. I gave him my best honest advice - to get ahead of the story, do everything he can to preserve his reputation for a future run for office, and it all seemed as if this wasn’t advice he was getting as he continued to struggle with what to do.
Right there in the midst of our chat, is his campaign manager Owen Burgess from Bull Run Strategies and it struck me: how do campaign consultants let this kind of thing happen to their clients?
This campaign has been a comedy of never-ending errors. Putting signs up in violation of county ordinances. Putting up signs that don’t have the campaign finance disclosures required by Virginia elections laws. Sending out employees to take down and destroy opponents signs. Neglecting deadlines for critical election events. Having supporters send out emails encouraging Democrats to attend a Republican nominating event that say that Republican Party officials “harass” people. I can understand a first-time candidate making dumb mistakes, but the purpose of paying campaign consultants thousands of dollars that are quite hard to raise is to prevent all this from happening.
As I left, the debacle of not filing on time for the Mass Meeting was breaking on the Derecho, The Sheriff and Virginia Virtucon and Scott Jacobs was still wondering what the hell to do. Another blown opportunity, as once again he’s not out in front about a story regarding his campaign. I feel for the guy. Admirably, he was owning up to the mistake and not blaming his consultants.
Perhaps he should.
There’s a constant refrain in Virginia politics that we need better consultants on the Republican and conservative side, and that we lose too many winnable elections to Democrats because our campaigns aren’t getting good advice and making too many mistakes. Yes, the pay is meager, work is sporadic, and it’s hard to establish a stable of capable campaign professionals on our side because the good ones are eventually going to find work that can employ them year round at salaries that someone could actually survive on. Democrats seem to find ways to employ their campaign pros year-round, but that solution has apparently eluded Republicans.
In the meantime, perhaps we can weed out some of the chaff. It is utterly inexcusable to let your candidate wander about completely lost when his campaign is collapsing around him, quite obviously berift of even a contingency plan. I might not have ever been a hot Jacobs supporter, but I am appalled at what Bull Run Strategies has done to this guy, who with the right help might have the potential to be a good public servant someday. Through their incompetence and neglect they’ve just trashed one of the few people with the courage to step up and be a Republican candidate for office, and I pray no one who might think of doing so in the future should ever get hoodwinked into funding the continued existence of this political consulting clown show.
If you’re thinking of running for office, these are not the guys you want on your team. I’m actually alienating myself from potential clients in saying this, but I hope the financial consequences to me are outweighed by having better candidates and campaigns in the future, ones that I’ll be happy to work with with a clear conscience.
UPDATE: InsideNova reports that PWCRC Chairman Bill Card confirms that the Jacobs campaign tried to hand deliver the documents on the 25th, a day after the postmark deadline and confirming what I’d heard from Scott Jacobs today. What consultant that intends to stay in business can’t manage to keep track of a filing deadline?
UPDATE 2: Jacobs sent out a press release the day after this broke announcing he was now an independent candidate. Apparently Bull Run Strategies desperately needed this increasingly ridiculous campaign to continue so they could get paid, no matter how much that costs Scott Jacobs all of his future political viability. If you ever needed an example of a consultant putting their interests ahead of their client’s, this is the perfect example.
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