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From wannabe to never-was in five easy steps

Tue., May 14, 2013, midnight

Washington political candidates have until Friday to make their pipe dreams official by filing their intent to run for local office.

Welcome to Delusion Week.

Yes, this is the time when every candidate from council president to chief cemetery digger is pumped up with the totally baseless belief that the voters are destined to fall head over heels in love with them.

A complete load of hooey, of course.

Truth is, voters look at political candidates the same jaundiced way that hotel maids consider that ring of grunge that tends to build up in overused commodes.

Which brings me here today.

As a free public service, the newspaper has allowed me to provide all of you candidates with a dose of reality I call …

Five Ways to Lose an Election (without hardly trying).

Perhaps with a bit of careful study, you can avoid the following political pitfalls.

1. It’s money that matters.

Is your war chest more of a coin purse?

If so, I would encourage you to drop out of politics and get that community college degree in pottery you’ve always talked about.

Waging a political campaign requires several wheelbarrows filled with cash – and that’s just for the media bribes.

If you don’t have money you can always hold a bake sale or ask your elderly parents to mortgage the family home.

That sounds cold. But as Richard Nixon once said, you’ll never make it in politics if you don’t have the courage to steal from friends and family.

2. Here a sign, there a sign.

Those red, white and blue campaign signs are so (yawn) boring, aren’t they?

Many candidates think so.

Many loser candidates, that is.

Those are the ones who think they’re clever, which is a near-fatal condition for any candidate to have.

Ignoring all evidence and advice, the clever candidate decides to reinvent the wheel by putting out political signs with color schemes that a Turkish brothel would reject.

Baby poop brown and mustard, say. Or impossible-to-read yellow over a white background.

Or red and green, like Christmas …

I’ve seen acres of gawd-awful campaign signage over the years.

There’s a reason to go with the tried and true: it wins.

Clever loses elections.

Like adorning your sign with a photograph of your ugly mug.

Please. Don’t ever go down that road unless, of course, you happen to look like Tom Cruise or Natalie Portman.

And from what I’ve seen of our local politicians, there’s no danger of that.

3. Dumping the shark.

Just like every bank robber needs a great getaway driver, every candidate needs an experienced shark for a manager.

“But Doug,” you say. “My unemployed brother-in-law, Steve, is really smart. Plus he says he’ll run my campaign if I keep him in beer.”

Sorry. That’s just a fast train to Loser Town.

The successful candidate needs a cutthroat the way Penn needs Teller or Al Capone needed Frank Nitti.

A pro will watch your back. A pro will deny your lies if press shows up with blood in their eyes. A pro will bury the body if something, say, gets out of hand.

It’s kind of sweet when you think about it.

4. Cobwebs and shadows.

We’re all human, aren’t we?

We all fall down and make mistakes every now and then, don’t we?

It’s just that politicians tend to act out in such weirder-than-life ways.

Take that time two-term state Rep. Richard Curtis came to Spokane for a GOP convention.

He hit the town at night dressed in women’s lingerie and escorted by a male hooker.

Richard probably should have warned his manager about his, ahem, hobbies before they became headlines.

Three more words to ponder:

Democrat Anthony Weiner.

Listen up, hopeful candidates. You can avoid great embarrassment and career-ending scandals by coming clean about your prison records, felony arrests or equine love affairs as soon as you file for office.

This won’t happen, of course.

I’m counting on that.

The day politicians start airing their soiled lingerie’s the day I start looking for a new job.

5. Our dirty not-so-little secret.

And finally, the best way to lose an election is to get elected mayor of Spokane.

Then run for a second term.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at

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