Summer Camp Teaches Political Junkies the Art of the Campaign
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Bob Zuckerman came to rub shoulders with the pros and Selma Ford arrived harboring hopes for a job back home in Ohio.
One hundred political enthusiasts converged on Washington Wednesday for the kickoff of the Democrats’ annual campaign summer camp.
The intense, five-day training seminar is designed to teach would-be political pros the imprecise art of the campaign - everything from how to control unpredictable candidates to how to curry favorable press coverage.
Participants will plunge themselves into a campaign between mock state senate candidates Ann Neu Age and Bob ″Sonny″ Legion, working from candidate profiles, financial background and polling data.
Once the race is on, a local newspaper, the Daily Plan-It, covers the changes in the political climate and keeps the campaigns informed of the candidates’ sometimes unpredictable behavior.
The training camp was started in 1985 with the aim of electing Democrats to state legislatures in key states before the 1990 census. This year’s crop of campers includes seasoned campaigners and novices alike.
Zuckerman, a New Jersey state Senate aide who has worked in several state- level campaigns, said he hopes to make new contacts and polish his campaign skills - learning from ″political professionals here who have years and years of experience.″
Ford, a student who just finished a Washington internship, hopes to translate her training into a job on the gubernatorial campaign of Democrat Anthony Celebrezze in her home state of Ohio.
″It’s wonderful experience - and I want him to win,″ she said.
Democratic Party Chairman Ronald Brown opened camp with a pep talk, telling participants the key to Democratic gains over the next decade lies in the success of statehouse races this year. Those elections are crucial to both parties, since each side wants to have the upper hand when states redraw congressional and legislative districts based on the 1990 census results.
″The only way to ensure fairness in reapportionment is to make sure that the hand that draws the lines is the hand of a Democrat,″ Brown said.
After the opening ceremonies in Washington, participants went to rural Piney Point, Md., for the remainder of the training camp.