Ogi Overman’s campaign falls just short
Well, my campaign for the District 4 Greensboro City Council seat did not exactly inspire the groundswell of grassroots support I had anticipated. The final tally read: Mike Barber 3,648, Janet Wallace 2,028, Ogi Overman somewhere in the neighborhood of 5. Although the results are still unofficial, I have decided not to exercise the Trudy Wade option and am hereby conceding the race to my friend and former colleague, Mike Barber.
While the margin of defeat does appear rather lopsided, in retrospect I can identify several factors which contributed to my somewhat lackluster showing. First of all, my decision not to register may have been flawed. My strategy was to avoid possible elimination in the primary and go straight to the general election as a write-in candidate. That way I could concentrate all my energies on November, and as an extra-added benefit be able to avoid paying the filing fee. If there is a next time I’ll just have to take my chances in the primary against Joseph Rahenkamp, the Harold Stassen of Greensboro.
I now realize that I made a critical error by launching my campaign a bit late. Because neither of my opponents had mounted a particularly vigorous campaign, my feeling was that I would wait until the last possible moment to announce, thereby capitalizing on what I perceived would be a huge block of undecided voters. But by choosing Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m. ‘— Election Day, actually ‘— to announce my candidacy, it may not have given me enough time to make up the necessary ground to spring the upset. By that point too many voters had already made up their minds. Heck, some of them had already voted.
I was hoping to be able to dig up some dirt on both my opponents, and sling it just in time to seize some momentum, but all I could uncover was that Mike had failed to answer the Yes! Weekly candidates’ questionnaire and Ms. Wallace had invoked the name ‘Newt Gingrich’ in her campaign. Hardly enough muck to sway the election my way.
Another possible explanation for my third-place finish was my failure to utilize a cross-section of media to get my message across. As we saw from Sandra Anderson’s billboard campaign and Florence Gatten’s last-minute TV blitz, advertising works. Yet, I chose to put all my eggs in one basket: radio. No print, no TV, no billboards, no yard signs, no direct mail. I still believe that radio is an effective medium, but I now realize I narrowed my focus far too much. I had to elucidate my entire platform on my regular 9:30’–10 a.m. slot on the ‘“Dusty Dunn Show’” on WGOS 1070 AM, and a half hour simply did not give me enough time to fully explain my positions on the myriad local issues.
Then too, my campaign war chest was not exactly brimming with cash. The only funds I had available to get the word out was the 35 bucks I saved by not filing, and this put me at a severe disadvantage. I did, however, put the $35 to good use by buying myself two exquisite neckties that only enhanced my already dapper appearance on the campaign trail.
As I look back on the planks of my platform, I must admit that a couple of them may not have resonated with the voters. My vow to ‘“not wear the same necktie twice on TV during my two-year term’” may have left them a bit cold. Likewise, my plank to ‘“lose weight so that I’ll look even better at the televised meetings’” may have come across as a bit egocentric. Also, my pledge to bone up on Roberts’ Rules of Order so that I’d know when to ‘“call the question’” may have been taken out of context.
Finally, it may have been my campaign slogan that proved to be my downfall. I ripped off my hero, Kinky Friedman (of Texas Jewboy fame), who’s running for governor of Texas with the mantra: ‘“How hard could it be?’” Then I started feeling guilty for plagiarizing Kinky so I changed it to: ‘“Remember, a vote for Ogi is a vote against those other two folks.’” If I ever decide to do this again, I’ll go back to the slogan I used while running for president of Aycock Hall in 1967 at East Carolina University, to wit: ‘“Ain’t no flies on my ass.’” Yes, it worked for me then, but in the real world you can’t bribe voters with free beer and pizza.
If my campaign accomplished nothing else, however, it did raise the bar high enough so that both my opponents had to actually, er’… vote. That’s more than can be said for 95 percent of the electorate.
Now, if you’ll excuse, me, I’ve got to go energize my base. Okay, who needs a beer?
Ogi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org heard each Tuesday from 9:30 – 10 a.m. on WGOS 1070 AM.