It is surprising what you find out. In my election for capo di tutti I absolutely sweated the verdict of my largest local. Tradition was that each candidate would enter the meeting room (occupied by over a hundred) separately, make a short presentation and answer questions. Yes you could bring an entourage, it was a show of strength, though too many would be… gauche. As it turns out my opponent and I brought exactly 2 seconds so we were evenly matched.
As one of my advisers I had a former capo, seemingly loved and respected by the local, who had gotten me out early to cultivate them saying, “This is the most important thing you will do,” and I did- to the point I was enrolled in a popularity contest I fortunately lost to see who was going to kiss a pig (oh, I would have done it).
But relations between my local and theirs were distant at best and I had never supported any projects they were involved with until after my candidacy. In my eyes I was an obvious and transparent panderer and my opponent a loyal ally of long standing.
He went first, I was excluded, so I can’t say exactly what happened. He emerged visibly shaken and started whining the moment the door closed behind him. We shook hands (I’m not that huge an asshole) and he and his team disappeared down the escalator to the parking garage.
Then it was my turn. It was as tough an interview as I’ve ever experienced and since I’m consumed with self doubt I was convinced I had blown it. Posse waited in the hall and when I came out I shushed them and said, “No talking until we get to the car.”
So mine was a private meltdown which I suppose shows I’m a superior politician or something, but in our staff meeting we started looking at scenarios that did not include those votes.
Without which I would pretty much have to run the table. I had solid support in my region which included several largish locals, I couldn’t see him picking off anything but isolated votes. I assumed his local (largest in his region) would go for him along with several medium sized locals that represented the establishment I had struggled for 20 years to overthrow. They weren’t my buddies by any means, but I did pay them the respect of campaigning as if their votes mattered.
In the last region I had lost the biggest prize, but they never had the turnout their numbers would justify so the question was, how bad would it be? I thought the rest of it was strongly behind me but they were all kind of tiny, so ultimately the question was turning out the base. There will be no concession.
How did that turn out? Surprisingly.
On the morning of the election I was summoned to an emergency meeting of a local in the region I had written off. Another former capo, one that I had more or less openly hated for years, presented me with an opportunity to sway her delegation, and I did.
When we closed the door on the convention to cast ballots many locals I had lobbied to attend- didn’t. I rated my chances as no better than 40%. An unexpected early bonus was that a different local from my rival’s region with whom I had a pretty serious feud went my way. On the other hand many I had counted on in the contested region as sure bets cast their ballots otherwise, one critical local that I was confident I had locked up from day one deferred.
And then the largest local voted. Yeah, it wasn’t all they were allowed but it’s be there or be square and as one of the nation’s biggest they don’t much care about State, they have their own thing happening.
My opponent still hadn’t conceded (wiser than I thought at the time) and it was time to re-run the roll call.
And I won.
After the Election
After the election I found out that my capo adviser was widely considered by my largest local to be a drunken idiot, which he was- how stupid drunk do you have to be to get cut off by an airport barkeep? Even so I was a nearly unanimous pick (even by the gal I warned off opposing me for a secondary position several years earlier) and as a matter of fact though they disagreed with me about many decisions they supplied about half the members of my Board of Directors (chosen for loyalty? Of course!) and kept me around for so many years in positions of trust and responsibility that many of them thought I was a member, even though I never was. I still get offers.
Also the change in heart of the delegates in my opponent’s region. I am not kidding that the 2 locals who supported me had been sworn enemies for about 2 decades. I had indications I would have won his home local except for favorite son (look, I understand).
A more disconcerting wow-
The local that sealed my election, the one that deferred, I had thought was mine from the beginning. I had spent years supporting them and they weren’t exactly the easiest place in Connecticut to reach. I knew every last one of them by name and considered many, friends. After the election I found out that following my opponent’s and my presentations at the local meeting, which I felt went quite well, they decided to vote for him.
In my club you have 3 months to campaign. This is so you can, if you want to, feel the need to, and have the energy to, visit every local in the State at their monthly meeting (and of course you do, if you’re serious). There are quarterly Regional meetings you’re also expected to attend (depending on your job it’s actually a requirement).
The last round of Regional meetings is what passes for debates. They aren’t really, you do your standard 2 to 5 and take questions. This particular one was hosted by my deferred local.
I thought I kicked butt, I always do and no excuse for a less than A+ performance. My opponent a B (ok, +, and I trust you’ll understand my bias). When the meeting was over I hung around to help clean up (hey, I drove a zillion miles to get here, a half hour is not going to make any difference).
“No, you have to leave,” says my strongest local advocate. Uh… ok, see you soon.
Emergency Board Meeting! All votes to ek!
I frequently feel the need to remind people that in addition to being a fictional character I’m also a practical politician who’s won elections and stuff. You may not think my government is good but I deeply believe that good government is good politics. Also, I play to win, not build bridges and forge compromises.
Elections are funny things and you rarely know what really happened until decades later. Who knows if even that is true.