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RUNNING IS WINNING Part 3: Roll that Snowball

HCDP has now hosted three RUNNING IS WINNING events to inform and encourage people who are either interested in running for office or who want to support candidates who have taken the plunge.

The third event, on Friday, Nov. 3, featured Grayson Barnette, a political strategist who has worked with many successful candidates. He recently co-founded Express Lane Strategies, a consulting firm headquartered in rural Appalachia with clients all around the country.

About 15 people came out for an energetic and upbeat evening with Grayson. There were three declared candidates on hand, one ready to file, and two considering the decision.

“Running for office is tough,” Grayson said. “It’s not always fun and it’s definitely not easy. There are many factors to consider—including how it will affect your family and personal life—but at the same time, it is also immensely valuable.”

Grayson recommended “gathering your posse and talking to them ahead of time so you know who you can call for help.” Another tip was to leverage community involvement and think in terms of coalitions of around 500 people. These could be people from work, from church, from school and from the neighborhood.

An especially interesting piece of advice was to not only include unaffiliated voters but to bring Republicans to the table as well. “We all have friends and family who are Republicans,” Grayson said. “They may not vote for Joe Biden, but they may vote for you and they may get their friends to vote for you, too.”

While many factors continue to make Henderson County a tough environment for progressives, Grayson noted that it is trending blue and offers opportunity.

Here are a few other tips Grayson shared:

  • Understand wedge issues and leverage them.

  • Talk about the benefits the Biden administration has brought to the area such as American Rescue Plan projects.

  • Be conscious of local culture, especially if you’ve moved here from somewhere else, and remember you will need to represent the community as it stands.

  • Use Vote Builder to identify prospective voters.

  • Consider using local radio as an affordable way to reach voters.

  • Point out the ways NC Republicans are not working for our community’s best interests.

  • Take advantage of HCDP’s offer to pay filing fees for candidates.

After laying a foundation and getting to work, “then you just have to roll the snowball,” Grayson said. “You keep building and building.”

Previous RUNNING IS WINNING events featured NC House Representative Eric Ager of Buncombe County, who shared his experiences, good and bad, as he successfully ran for office; Hendersonville mayor pro tem Lyndsey Simpson, who spoke about engaging with a variety of audiences; and Teresa Fisher, PhD, who gave tips on how to actively listen to voters.

Watch this space for more RUNNING IS WINNING information. Winter is coming and it’s time to get the snowball rolling!


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