There comes a time when the piper must be paid. And did he make out like a bandit on that one! More on Consultant Pay.

I find it highly interesting that the whole post-election fundraising controversy (Argus Leader Link) in the Sioux Falls mayoral office seems to be revolving around payment to his consultants for the race. I even see that the media has asked the Secretary of State for his input on paying consultants a "Win Bonus."

What Jonathan Ellis at the Argus Leader should have asked is not whether "win bonuses" were commonplace in South Dakota, but "is paying a consultant common in South Dakota political races?" Secretary of State Chris Nelson had the answer to that one when he commented in the Argus Article:
In the campaigns that I've run, we didn't have enough money to hire consultants, let alone pay win bonuses, he said
Truer words have never been said about South Dakota political races. But it's also reflective of an attitude that I discussed in my very very first post for the SDWC. From my inaugural message:

Circumstance has made me into an unofficial mentor. Why unofficial? One of the people whom I consider a mentor, Geraldine "Gypsy"Hines, the principal of Good Government Consultants in Sioux Falls once noted to me that a lot of people don't want to pay for political consulting in SD. I tried it to make money off of it once, and while I had a few people who were willing to pay for consulting, I realized that most candidates at this level lack the resources to do so.

And really, the people who can't afford it need it the most. So, the people I end up helping are typically the young, first time candidate whose never done this sort of thing before, but they're jumping in with both feet. I've got a soft spot for these guys (and gals), because that was me once.

I'm someone who, on occasion, has been paid for my work assisting political campaigns. I'm a generalist, handling everything from media, to computers & data systems, to campaign management. Sometimes I've made out ok, and other times it has been hardly worth my effort. Mainly, it's all afterthought where you look back and go "cool" or if you look back and go "Ugh. I'll never do that again" There are many things that go into the satisfaction level, such as the commitment of the candidate, funding, the ability of the opponent(s), and the PITA principle.

If you've ever been in charge of a campaign effort, you've dealt with the PITA principle. For the uninitiated, what am I talking about? Simply put, it's shorthand for the Pain-In-The-Ass principle. How much of a pain in the ass is it to do the job and will the amount of money I'm being paid offset my agony?

It's mainly why I choose my races very carefully nowadays. I'm not so quick to hop on the next election train that comes steaming along my way. I try to measure the commitment of the candidate, because if you're in an election, it's not life and death. It's more important. Your deisre to win should consume a good deal of your thinking during that first race.

What makes a race a pain in the derriere? You're dealing with every Tom, Dick and Harry who ever voted for a candidate who decides that "I vote. Therefore I'm an expert." They come telling you how to run a race, how to design your materials, where you should advertise, etc.

On one recent campaign I did for money, I actually had a Republican county official who called and complained that we should re-do all of our signs and logos with a different font, one that shows up better from a distance. Because according to him a san-serif font is visible at a greater distance than a serif font.

Never-mind that it was late September, and all materials were designed, bought, in the can and distributed across the state. Like we're going to recall everything? Give me a break. By the end of the phone conversation, I was polite as I always try to be, (my mommy taught me well) but I had the urge to reach through the phone and bitch slap the fool.

And the PITA principle begins with people like this. And it only gets worse when you add the Campaign Theory of Relativity to the mix.

The Campaign Theory of Relativity means that the closer the candidates' relatives are to the campaign, the closer the PITA principle needs to be examined. It is also affected by the number of relatives as well.

One example I'll throw out there is a campaign I worked on in 1990 on behalf of the SDGOP. I was commissioned to conduct a scientific poll in a legislative district (Thank you Dr.'s Clem and Feimer for teaching me how) . I had my questionnaires and my calling lists prepared and I arrived to instruct the crew that was assembled to do the polling.

These questionnaires were carefully crafted in language, and timed to keep the polling short and sweet. We had one evening and about twenty volunteers to complete 300 polling calls, so there was no fiddling around. In the middle of the whole instructional process, the legislative candidates' son starts going on about the OTHER questions they wanted to add to the poll, and was quite upset when I just flat said "no."

It was apparent that this guy, kind of a mouthy redneck type, wasn't used to hearing "no." But I made it exceedingly clear that they could do it the way they wanted without my assistance if that was their intent. But then again, I was the one who knew how to calculate crosstabs.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. In South Dakota I've heard of whole campaigns that were sunk because a candidate listened to a spouse or a brother, or otherwise. Once, I volunteered for a campaign that went through THREE campaign managers because the candidate's child just didn't get along with them. That candidate ended up losing miserably too.

And woe be to you who comes between a candidate and a relative. Just ask those three campaign managers who wanted their candidate to win. They had thier hands busy enough trying to win a race, and thier only sin was they didn't follow the untold rule that they had to placate an adult child.

I can see it as entirely possible that Mayor Munson had to pay his consultants what he did if the job they were required to do was difficult. Certainly if they didn't earn the money then, they're earning it for the PITA factor they're having to deal with now.

As for me, right now I've got one race I'm doing for free right now. In addition to another one I've already said I'd help with, I anticipate there will be another one or two who come calling for a small job. And that's ok. I've selectively picked those I'm helping and they're solidly committed to their races.

And the best part is there are no PITA's nor relativity problems in the forecast for my election season this year. I might not be making anything other than candidates into elected officials, but I'm also not stuck explaining things to the Argus Leader, either.


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