When you are a relatively unknown candidate running in a large state like Florida, and you have neither the marquis name of your chief opponent nor the checkbook of the incumbent you are hoping to replace, it helps to get a steady stream of good press.
Frankly, it’s one of the only plays you have.
Good press is needed to build name identification and brand. Donors, both current and future, want to read good things about you. Supporters, friends and organizers need the near-constant reinforcement from the media that you are doing the right things to become the state’s next chief executive.
That is why having a week of headlines like, “Bad news for Andrew Gillum? Tallahassee named most dangerous city in Florida” and “Flop and Failure; Gillum-crafted city contracting cost $320k — and got no results” is the absolute last thing Andrew Gillum needed.
And when you give a pretty darn good speech to the local Tiger Bay club, but the hometown paper leads the next day with, “Gillum addresses email controversy”; it has to be hard to get out of bed that day. (For the record, FloridaPolitics.com covered the same story and lead with a different, more positive headline.)
I have had the pleasure of meeting Andrew Gillum on a couple of occasions, and I find him to be smart, earnest and engaging. But if his campaign is going to gain altitude, he has to to slow the press bleeding. He really needs a few good weeks to put the narrative back on course.
By any measure, the past week was about as bad a press week that a candidate can have (well, except for his first week as a candidate where he spent more time explaining, defending and apologizing for the first of several unforced errors). And a serious candidate for statewide office who doesn’t have the checkbook of the man he hopes to succeed will simply fade if it doesn’t get any better.
Gillum is correct when he says: “I don’t have a famous last name and I cannot stroke my own check to become the next governor of the state of Florida.”
That is precisely why the self-described “underdog” (thank you Brendan Farrington) needs to turn things around in short order.
After all, everyone loves to root for the underdog.