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Two Lessons Learned From John Kerry

As this RollCall article points out, John Kerry’s failed presidential bid left him with at least one reward: His email list.

"He lost his bid to become president in 2004, but that campaign left him with an invaluable commodity: an e-mail list 3 million strong that he can call upon to rally support for causes and candidates — or another presidential run."

"…A Kerry e-mail ‘has the ability to transform an election,’ said Jenny Backus, a Kerry consultant. ‘Not everyone knows who Rahm and [Senate Minority Leader Harry] Reid are; they all know who John Kerry is.’"

I derive two lessons that conservative political candidates should take from this:

1. You and I should start building our email list, today (I have one and you can sign up for it at www.campaignleadership.com). Even if it is on the local level, and you only collect a few thousand addresses, it’s worthwhile. And (at least for now) it is virtually free to contact your supporters via email.

2. Investing in building an infrastructure means you can benefit even if you lose. That’s not always the case. For example, if you invest all your resources in TV campaign ads, there is little benefit if you lose your election. If you lose, those messages are lost in the ether. Conversely, if you invest some of your resources into building a donor or volunteer base, it’s yours to keep. You can use it to help other conservative candidates — or to possibly run for office in the future. This is one of the many reasons it’s wise to invest at least a portion of your resources in the grassroots (and in this case, the netroots).

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Written By

Mr. Lewis has managed political campaigns and served as director of grassroots for the Leadership Institute, as well as political director for GOPAC. In 2002, Campaigns & Elections magazine selected him as a "Rising Star of Politics." He is the author of "Teaching Elephants to Talk." His blog can be read at MattLewis.org.

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