A race to the finish

Published 11:27 pm Tuesday, November 5, 2013

By Rex Alphin

“Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” — Vince Lombardi

“We’ve cut it to four!” His excitement almost drowned out his words as the hired consultant blurted the results of the latest poll to Richard Flannahan running for the House. “We can close it if we keep pounding,” he uttered, staring at the screen.

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Months of carefully planned strategy was finally paying off. A test of media releases had revealed what the undecided wanted in order to commit. All that was needed was the money to portray the opposition in the light that would most negatively affect his image.

Once things got started, the funds came pouring in, for everyone wanted to have some part in the potential winning side.

His opponent’s old votes were dug up. Contentious social issues were brought to the forefront and cast in the worst light possible. Any economic decisions that had the slightest possibility of harming a citizen’s livelihood were accentuated and broadcast into the public as imperiling the very fabric of society. Unflattering pictures were posted alongside embarrassing quotes.

“Define your opposition’s image in the public eye before he can define himself” was the modus operandi. And it worked. Like a slow-moving virus, people’s perception of Rebecca Baker’s once stellar image deteriorated into dismal numbers.

She was portrayed as indecisive, incompetent, untrustworthy, arrogant, shifty, unintelligent and irrelevant. Flannahan was the reverse. Competent, decisive, for the people, brave, friendly, loyal.

By the time Baker considered action, it was too late. The damage had been done and proved irreversible this close to November. Momentum swung to Flannahan, and he surged across the finish line with a grand push. He had won. Flannahan had won! His strategy had proved a winner.

He stood behind the lectern amidst cheers and surrounded by his family, and he thanked his supporters. He revisited the journey just traveled and reveled in its outcome.

Finally, he complimented his opponent, Rebecca Baker. “I commend Becky — my competent, trustworthy, intelligent opponent, who brought out the best in both of us.”

Rex Alphin of Walters is a farmer, businessman, author, county supervisor and contributing columnist for the Suffolk News-Herald. His email address is rexalphin@aol.com.