Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A challenge that any candidate may welcome: In Their Own Words

I truly miss Avy Meyers.

At this point in the election cycle, Avy would generally invite me on his program where I could practice my punditry and try and crack wise about who filed where, and who got challenged, and who didn't. Avy would already be scheduling, if not yet running, candidate interviews, giving me fresh content to post here even on days when I really needed to work at the practice of law.

The opportunity to appear on Avy's program is lost to those in this election cycle.

I can't fill the void. But I can offer an alternative that I've been offering in every election cycle since the 2008 primary season, an opportunity for candidates to have their own post right here -- a chance to get every candidate's 'front porch pitch' out to any voter who happens across this little corner of the Intertubes.

I'm averaging nearly 1,500 page views a day at this point; last month, according to the statistics Blogger keeps, I had over 47,000 page views here. Many of these page views, of course, come from candidates, their family members, their consultants, or from judges and courthouse personnel... occasional Russian spammers... but they can't account for all of that traffic. There are apparently actual voters looking at this site from time to time. More will be coming by when the primary gets closer.

And candidates: Your message can be here waiting for the voters when they come.

Getting one’s message out to voters in a county as large as this one is a herculean challenge. Subcircuits may look a lot smaller on the map, but each covers a lot of ground, as candidates who were walking door-to-door, collecting signatures, will attest.

Let me speak directly to the candidates now: The enormity of the task before you has become clear, whatever support you are already privileged to have. Each of you has a day job to keep up with – and, in your spare time, you’re still seeking endorsements, filling out questionnaires, and showing up at any event that will have you. You’ve undoubtedly noticed, at these events, that judicial candidates spend a lot of time seeing... each other. You may be getting around, but you’re not always around likely potential voters, at least you're not always around likely voters you haven’t already met.

I will give each of you an opportunity to get your message directly to potential voters.

I will print any statement that any Cook County judicial candidate cares to make right here on For What It’s Worth. This is the sixth election cycle in which I’ve extended this invitation. In 2008, more than two dozen candidates took me up on this. In 2010 and 2012, only a few candidates did. In 2014 I had statements from eight candidates; in 2016 I had statements from seven candidates.

I hope many more of you will take advantage of this opportunity in this election cycle, but (subject to a few provisos, stipulations and rules that I will presently address) I will print what I get, whether I get five statements or 55. When I put up the Organizing the Data posts shortly before the primary, I will link back to any statements I’ve received, providing voters an additional chance to receive your message directly.

Candidates need only send me an email (that's a link to my email address; there's also a link you can find in the sidebar of this blog) with their essays.

You may be wondering what you should say. I don’t know that there is any “right” answer. You can provide a statement of personal philosophy, the stump speech you’ve always wanted to make, your ‘closing argument’ to the electorate, or whatever else you think appropriate.

I’m not going to tell anyone what to say or how to say it. However, I would suggest, as my mother used to say, that you don’t make your own candle shine brighter by trying to blow out someone else’s. Tell voters why you should be elected, not why your opponent should not be.

Put your statement in the first person (be personal, use “I” and “me”) because I will run your statement as your statement, under your byline, by Sally Smith, by John Jones. I know some of you are paying consultants to help you craft your message and there may be a temptation to simply delegate this task. Resist that temptation: Get feedback from your advisers before you send me anything (especially if you're paying for it anyway), but let your voice come through in your essay. I know writing such an essay won’t be an easy task: As lawyers, we’re used to advocating for a client -- for someone else. It’s not as easy to talk about ourselves. But this is an opportunity for you to define yourself, rather than be defined by questionnaire responses.

If I don’t already have your picture, send me a head shot. I’ll run your picture with the post. I will not edit candidate statements. I’ll print what you send. (That’s why I need an email, to verify what was sent, and by whom.) To see what other candidate statements have looked like, click on the “In Their Own Words” tag at the bottom of this post and start scrolling down.

I will only put up one statement per candidate.

I realize some of you already have personal statements posted on your own campaign websites. If you ask me to run a substantially similar statement here, or even the same statement, I will do so. However, I will not pull statements from your site on my own. If you want me to put your statement here, you have to send me the statement.

I will begin accepting, and posting, candidate essays immediately. Because I will link to them from the Organizing the Data posts, there’s no advantage to delay. And if you do try and wait until the last minute, when I am working on those roundup posts, I may be unable to get your essay posted. I have a day job, too.

I do not intend to impose any limit on the statement’s length; presumably you won’t want to compose anything overwhelmingly long. For illustration purposes, my word processor advises me that this post is about 1,075 words long.

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