Winner — And Still Champion — Is….

…Lee Jarrell Davis of Seminary, Mississippi.

The final scoreboard shows us…

District 102 
12 of 12 precincts - 100 percent 
Lee Jarrell Davis, GOP (i) 3,950 - 72 percent 
Rick James, Dem 1,512 - 28 percent 

To Lee Jarrell, congratulations. See there, you didn’t need little ol’ me to move to Hattiesburg just long enough to notch a vote your direction. I wish you well in your further efforts. I know you’ll do the 102nd Mississippi House district proud as you have three terms before.

As for Rick… well… I could bring up the “full-scale attack” theme 745 more times. But, that wouldn’t change the scoreboard now, would it?

The thing that surprises me — and even disappoints me — is Rick didn’t approach this campaign as if he’s marketing a radio station. Goodness knows he can mention he worked 20+ years in radio at the drop of a hat. So, why not put that experience and savvy to work in a political campaign?

When your marketing a radio station, you put your best foot forward and make your case to listeners why your station is the best spot on the dial. You have contests, remote broadcasts and really make your station visible in what’s otherwise a non-visual medium. You do everything just short of saying on the air, “Please make sure you write down our call letters in those diaries.” A local TV station (WHLT) and a local radio station (about a year after I left SL-100) have gotten in trouble for doing just that over the years.

Now, I’ve never been involved in a political campaign — and with my media work, I’ve politely declined such invitations. But, as I see it, there can’t be too much of a difference between campaigning for office and marketing a station.

So, with that said, let’s assess Rick’s full-scale attack — or lack thereof. To repeat my definition of “full-scale attack” when campaigning for office, such attack includes showing up at debates and rallies, speaking on the issues, speaking with future constituents and purchasing advertising in every available medium (billboards, newspapers, TV, radio, even the internet). This way, if you don’t reach voters in person, you somehow reach them as they go about their day.

Again, since I don’t live in the 102nd district, it was hard to follow this race. But, based on what I’ve heard and read, it appears Rick did everything in my definition of “full-scale attack” right on up to the “advertising” part. When it came to advertising, he only had signs on the side of the road and, it’s my understanding, bought airtime on just a couple of radio stations and the newspaper. To the best of my knowledge, he didn’t deliver his message through TV advertising.

Oh, and a word about the radio spots. He started by saying, “Hi, I’m Rick James and I’m not a politician — but I’m running against one.” Then he goes into this 20-second spiel about what’s wrong with Mississippi and how lawyers and “career politicians” are the reason we rank 49th or 50th in seemingly everything as well as 1st or 2nd in things we’d rather be 49th or 50th. He closed by saying, “Vote for change. Vote Rick James.” Of course, there was the obligatory disclaimer “Paid for by Rick James” at the end.

Two problems with that spot. First, there was no mention of what office he’s running for. All he had to do was add four words to the copy: “state representative, District 102”. Second, the spot was pretty much all-negative and he was quick to assign blame. I said this back in the spring and will say it again. “Negative campaigning gets real old, real quick.”

(Sidebar rant: Several of Ronnie Musgrove’s spots were negative. And he was the incumbent coming into the governor’s race. Surprise he’s now a lame-duck governor? There shouldn’t be.)

Back to Rick’s campaign signs, my radio colleagues and I have been having a field day with an image one of us took…

…this photo was taken just before September 25th’s Southern Miss/Nebraska game. We couldn’t but ask among ourselves at our tailgating tent if he was campaigning for office or if he was on strike. Quite a contrast when about this time last year, he was spotted on campus before a Southern Miss game passing out flyers and pamphlets regarding Ronnie Shows’ run for the newly-configured third Congressional district.

With Johnny DuPree’s term as Hattiesburg mayor about to wrap up, it wouldn’t terribly surprise me if Rick ran for mayor. Rick, whatever office you seek, here’s a little advice. Let’s go for a… yeah, you saw this coming… “full-scale attack”.

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