Letter to Christine Hallquist

Dear Christine,

Congratulations on winning the Democratic primary for governor of Vermont. My phone is now ringing from friends and colleagues around the country asking if you can win. Here is how:

  1. Take a breath – national news coverage of you is now way beyond the NY Times. It is a leading story in almost every political blog and newsletter I receive. Don’t let it go to your head. National news coverage doesn’t lead to votes at home. But it helps you raise money to fund your campaign.
  2. Manage your money – make sure you have an advisor who can tell you how to spend your limited dollars. Don’t waste it on TV. Use the national media attention to replace TV advertising with social media.
  3. Build your email list – no matter what people say – email is still king. Get your list in shape and start emailing people on Mailchimp right now, asking for money and support.
  4. Get your policy positions in shape. Right now they are muddled. Something about the rural economy? There are plenty of policy people out there. Get your campaign manager to call them to help you fill out your platform. Personally, I want someone to tell me how Vermont can modernize itself to become a state where people want to live. Phil Hoff did it in 1962. It is time to do it again.
  5. Work hard – Be everywhere. Vermonters are starting to discover you. Now you have to convince them. Make sure you have a driver so you can work your IPhone on the way to events.
  6. Be real and tell the truth – this is the big one. Trump and Obama have shown us that people are sick of the system as it exists. They are sick of polished non-answers from political leadership. Watch the West Wing scene of Jed Bartlett in NH at the beginning of his campaign. Be that candidate.
  7. Meet with the press a lot. Most political people fear the press and spend way too much time strategizing around how to avoid the press. Do the opposite. Meet with them whenever they want. Got to their offices. Shake their hands. Meet with their reporters in different venues. The press is also sick of politicians shading the truth. Tell it to them straight. If you don’t know the answer, tell them you will figure it out.
  8. Be the candidate that says – “I will always tell you the truth. You may not agree with me. But we can always have a conversation.
  9. Don’t demonize Phil Scott. Vermonters know Phil Scott is a decent person. Don’t try to make him into Trump. That will fail. Speak about your vision for the state.
  10. Get some sleep. If you do this right, it will be hard.