THE CANDIDATE AND THE CAMPAIGN chairman actually select each other. I am covering this selection now as it is usually the first campaign decision the candidate makes. In many situations the person asked to be the campaign chairman has been encouraging the candidate to seek the office. It may have been done very casually. During the course of the discussions about who should run for the office, a statement like this may have been made: Well, if I do run, youll have to be my campaign chairman.
If the campaign chairman is chosen in such a casual manner, often the chairman is very close to the candidate. There are advantages and disadvantages to having the candidate and chairman be close friends.
Several advantages come to mind. If they are close friends they have already developed open communication between themselves. There should be no problem with telling it like it is. Also, they know many of the same people, so that others who are asked to help on the campaign are already known to both. The close friend who is chosen as a chairman already knows how the candidate feels about many issues. The close friend can usually accurately anticipate how the candidate will react to new information or situations based on past knowledge and experience.
The disadvantages include the possibility that if they are too close, the campaign chairman might have a tendency to protect the candidates feelings instead of telling him what he ought to hear and know. The chairman may assume his candidate-friend is going to react a certain way, when in reality the candidate is now perceiving problems differently than he did when they shared issues over coffee or cocktails. Friendships of many years have been severely tested during the heat of a political campaign. Some have been ripped asunder, never to be mended.
There needs to be a clear understanding between the candidate and the campaign chairman as to which decisions will be made by the candidate and which will be made by the campaign chairman. The candidate obviously will decide which issues he is comfortable with and which he intends to highlight as he seeks the office. The campaign chairman should contribute to this planning process, but the final decisions as to the issue thrust of the campaign should solely be the candidates. You cannot run a race by a majority vote of the volunteers working on the campaign.