“My baseball career spanned almost five decades—from 1925 to 1973, count them—and in all that time I never had a boss call me upstairs so that he could congratulate me for losing like a gentleman. “How you play the game” is for college boys. When you’re playing for money, winning is the only thing that matters. Show me a good loser in professional sports, and I’ll show you an idiot. Show me a sportsman, and I’ll show you a player I’m looking to trade to Oakland so that he can discuss his salary with that other great sportsman, Charley Finley.”
~ Legendary Baseball Manager Leo Durocher, Nice Guys Finish Last
If Joe Kyrillos overcomes the double digit lead that several polls give Bob Menendez in the U.S. Senate race over the next two weeks without going negative, he not only will be making political history, he will have transcended human nature and rewritten the “how to win an election as a challenger” campaign books.
As much as people complain about negative political ads, they are the only ads that work for a challenger or candidate behind in the polls.
Vice President George H.W. Bush’s “Willie Horton” ad against Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis in the 1988 presidential campaign is probably the most memorable political ad of all time. It is arguably the most negative…and effective…as it propelled Bush to overcome a 17% deficit in the national polls and win the White House.
Kyrillos’ campaign has been complaining that the mainstream NJ media has not been covering the campaign enough. That changed this weekend as The Star Ledger/NJ.com featured Monmouth County’s senior state senator and the U.S. Senate campaign three times in the last two days. NJTV’s Reporters Roundtable dedicated a third of this weekend’s show to the Senate race.
Yesterday Matt Friedman profiled Kyrillos in Meet Joe Kyrillos, a nice guy trying to unseat powerful US Senator Menendez. Today, Salvador Rizzo wrote about how tame the the Senate campaign has been and Mark Bonamo also wrote a candidate profile wherein Kyrillos describes his “duty to run.”
If Joe K’s objective was to introduce himself to New Jersey as the nice guy that he truly is, his campaign is working. If he’s out to beat Menendez, it does not appear to be working. The predicate of the campaign was if Obama wins New Jersey by less that 10%, Kyrillos could beat Menendez. Yet, based upon recent polls, Menendez is outperforming Obama in New Jersey. Put another way, Kyrillos is under-performing Romney in New Jersey.
Even the jabs Kyrillos threw at Menendez in their three debates were nice. His press releases leave the harsh quotes to his campaign manager. His TV ads are nice.
If nice gets voters’ attention and overcomes a double digit deficit in the current New Jersey race, it will be a first.