Nicks an Able Manager
by Ralph Shnelvar, March 3, 2004 (posted)
Travis Nicks' Campaign: Part 1
There is a story about Henry Kissenger that says that an intern in the State Department ran up to him and said: "Mr. Kissenger. Mr. Kissenger, there is an emergency and..."
"That is quite impossible," said Kissenger in his unique accent.
The intern looked at Kissenger and finally was able to say, "I'm sorry, I don't understand. How can there not be an emergency when there is an emergency?"
To which Kissenger replied, "It's impossible. I don't have any time in my schedule for emergencies."
So it was with me. It really wasn't supposed to happen. I was so damn busy writing my own software and working on election reform (fighting to get rid of "electronic" voting systems) as well as trying to organize for the Petition Rights Amendment.
Then Frank Atwood calls me and asks if I know anyone in Arapahoe County willing to run in the Tracy Baker recall. I immediately thought of a man who I thought would make a terrific candidate: Travis Nicks.
Travis had worked on my campaign for governor. I really liked him then and I like him a hell of a lot more now.
I asked Travis and he agreed to run.
A lot of heavy lifting was done without me. Frank and Joe Johnson orchestrated getting the necessary 750 signatures. Remarkably, Travis's team managed to get about 1,500 signatures in three days while the Democrat, Kathleen Conway, was unable to get the necessary 8,000 signatures in six weeks.
Travis worked very hard to get those signatures because he and Frank believed that Conway would not be able to get the 8,000 signatures necessary to get the Democrat on the ballot. Frank, political genius that he is, was right. In those six weeks she only got around 1,600 signatures.
It was now a 2.5-way race:
Through little help of my own, the race was on. I volunteered to be media director and media contact for the Nicks campaign.
Working on this campaign was an absolute delight. I worked with the finest team of Libertarians I have ever had the honor and pleasure to work with: Travis Nicks, Rick Randall, Joe Johnson, and Frank Atwood. To put it bluntly, there was a minimum amount of bullshit and a maximum amount of pushing in the same direction.
There was one organizational meeting in which we laid out the master plan. After that, almost all the "meetings" were by conference call.
It was at that first organizational meeting that I discovered just how effective Travis is as a manager. His combination of humility, guilelessness, drive, and resolve made him a joy to work with. I always enjoy working with people who say "I don't know" when they don't know, weigh the information from their advisors, and then make a decision. Travis was such a manager.
One of the decisions made at that first meeting was whether it would be Desiree Hickson (Libertarian State Party Media Director) or me who would be Travis' media director. Dez and I are friends and I knew how swamped she is and was. She graciously stepped aside for me but was kept fully informed of all that was going on.
One of Frank Atwood's strengths is that he reads the newspapers. He's a one-man clipping service.
He read the Littleton Independent and found that Tracy Baker said that he was willing to debate. Frank immediately called me and I went to work.
I called Alison Hill, the producer at KBDI, and asked her if she wanted a Nicks/Baker debate. She talked to Peter Boyles and he was enthusiastic. "Do you think you can pull it off?" she asked me. "I need a commitment from you." "You got it."
I called Baker's office and got through to Baker. I need to maintain some secrets... but I got him to commit. Alison was thrilled.
For those of you who don't know, Baker pulled out a few hours before he was to go on-air. This was a time of incredible confusion and activity. Peter Boyles wanted to kick Travis off-air and spend the hour just reading Baker's e-mails. It's his show so Alison sadly informed us that Travis was off. Travis was extremely gracious and told Alison that he understood.
It was exactly the right thing to say. I don't know what happened behind the scenes at KBDI but I can only imagine that Alison went to bat for us. In any event there were a couple of "you're on" and "you're not on" cycles.
Alison told Travis to show up at the studio for the live show. (It's a call-in show.) Travis again said exactly the right thing: "Alison, I'll be there. If I get on, great. If not, then I'll just watch the show from the green room."
I would have accompanied Travis to the show but it was my daughter's 12th birthday. I told my daughter, "Next time you get born, pick another day."
All through dinner I was thinking, "Did Travis get on? How's he doing?"
It turns out that he did great. He's a wonderful candidate and a terrific TV personality.
I can only guess, but Aaron Harber must have seen Travis and decided to put him on. This time Baker agreed to go on-air.
Between the time that the Aaron Harber show was to be filmed and the Peter Boyles show aired, one loose-cannon of a Libertarian called Alison Hill and left a message berating her for not giving Travis more air time because the Boyles show was not aired again at the appointed time.
I received a call from Alison and she was as livid as this dear, sweet, wonderful woman gets. All I could do is listen and apologize. Real damage had been done. Alison doesn't need this crap.
Fortunately, the Travis Team was able to repair the damage. At the Aaron Harber taping we all apologized profusely to Alison and assured her that "This didn't come from here."
Using her lilting and melodic Welch voice, she graciously accepted our joint apology.
For those of you who didn't see the show, it was a "debate" with Travis, Kathleen Conway, and Tracy Baker. The Republican, Doty, refused to go on-air because Baker was on the show. Of course, she refused to go on the Boyles show because Baker was not on the show.
Tracy Baker came across very well; much better than expected. It was clear to me that he had been well-coached.
Kathleen Conway showed up well.
Travis did very well.
Aaron Harber asked all three candidates present about how the voting for this election was to proceed. He had received incorrect information from the Doty camp and used that as the basis of a discussion with Travis, Conway, and Baker.
Only Travis said, "Aaron, I think you're wrong." Indeed, Harber was wrong but Travis was too polite (and too scared) to make a flat-out assertion of fact.
Again, Travis's instincts were correct. The upside potential because he was right was small. The downside potential for being wrong was much greater.
TO BE CONTINUED.