Texas Campaign Diary: Nearing the End of a Journey

After an hour of radio this morning into Corpus Christi, we enjoyed good wishes from South Texas, as the front page of the Brownsville Herald heralded the South Texas poll, where Radnofsky leads Hutchison 52-40. I did work South Texas hard, and enjoyed several dozen visits, as the ride there is beautiful and diverse, especially if the route gores by the intercoastal waterway. We've spent two wonderful family vacations in the last two years on Padre Island, where my husband and I honeymooned long ago. And the small towns are loaded with Native American artifacts and stories of conquistadores and LaSalle's adventurers and heroes of the Texas revolution and pirates and a huge share of war heroes.

I've seen two Medals of Honor at local Texas museums in the last 6 months. Pioneer women's stories and early newspapermen dominate, as do oil and agricultural history. And the birding ... The best in the world. So it was very pleasing to know how strong the campaign has been in the RGV (Rio Grande Valley), which recently hosted a Pachanga for me on a ranch outside of Mission. Folks care about education, scant social services and overtaxed school districts, water, health care and treating our veterans fairly. (South Texas, lacking any VA hospital, is disproportionately represented by wounded, aging and retired vets).

Today, I wrote an essay on Ten Lessons of Vietnam. Far from a typical press release, it's engendered positive reaction from all over the country. Just as our military forgot Vietnam for a time in its teachings but has now adopted counterinsurgency strategies, based on others' experience in earlier wars, so have a generation of Americans grown up with no memory of the growing horrors of "McNamara's War," and the final realization that the war was badly mismanaged from inception. In 1995, former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara published his searing confession of mistakes, some of which are summarized in "No more Vietnams, No More Iraqs, Redux" on the www.radnofsky.com website.

We drove, in a monster thunderstorm, to a GOTV Rally, packed tightly into the lobby of City Hall, with all major media present. We followed with a small dinner with staff and volunteers, as we reflected, discussed the essay, and shared favorite moments. It was nice to have the entire paid staff of the Radnofsky campaign there - both of them.

All the volunteers statewide have done such a remarkable job and are reporting in with plans for tomorrow. We had some last minute computer gremlins hit, but all have been solved by the IT "Department" which has been more responsive and able than any large firm or corporation could ever desire. Arrangements are set with the volunteer band and volunteer videographer and volunteer chef to prepare the donated salmon, as our other volunteers arrange the last of our webcasts and parties at the same location we've used for meet ups and victory parties in Houston over the last three years: Maria Selma's.

Reflecting back, no regrets. Surprise at how supposed experts could so miss the mark. Example: pundits lament my need for a runoff, when I beat two men with 43 percent of the primary vote, then used 750,000 pieces of direct mail to energize the base and identify myself to voters I'd need again. The runoff was the best of all worlds for me, as it got my name out in April and gave the campaign and volunteers experience in media buying and drafting another vote plan. By the time the general came round, we'd won two state wide elections. (Believe me, there aren't a whole lot of Democratic campaigns in Texas who can say that).

We did it without the expense of polling or consultants. We learned what we needed to from friends, experts, officeholders, and a nice array of former students. My best: Scott Perrault of scottradio, who I taught over thirty years ago at the Harvard Debate Institute. He is a wonderful radio producer, adviser, and voiceover whenever needed. He taught us media buying and did the general buying on his own. His implementation of the plan for emphasis on radio for our 25 target vote plan areas was beautifully executed. And we've been able to shift in and out of various ads and quickly as we'd like. People remember the ads too. So I'm answering e-mails tonight, looking forward to live radio in studio during traffic hour, then meeting voters at the polls. Then I'll slip out for a bike ride and get back in plenty of time for the Victory Party.