When the 1984 Blue Bird Wanderlodge campaign bus rolls through small town North Carolina, people can’t help but to stare and honk their horns. Dan Forest, the Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor of the state of North Carolina, has become a political novelty by running a grassroots campaign that he hopes will help him come out on top of challenger Linda Coleman on November 8th.
When asked about grassroots campaigns, Forest Deputy Campaign Manager Ian Richardson believes that a grassroots campaign is essential. Richardson said this campaign is unique and important because it “[focuses] the candidate on staying close to the people.”
The whole essence of grassroots campaigning is to assure that the candidate is working closely with the electorate, and assuring that voters are aware of this.
Richardson went on to say, “Grassroots campaigns are built on organization- organization that is methodically planned out and coordinated across large distances to move and deliver a message in unison. Without grassroots, there is only paid media.”
During a time where technology is expanding into new aspects of life, face-to-face campaigning is still alive and important to many people, especially in the state of North Carolina.
In comparison, Governor Pat McCrory has chosen to employ a more paid media strategy. As he seeks reelection in what has been named the second most competitive governor’s race in the country by Politico, McCrory has been using a more digital campaign strategy.
The office of the Lieutenant Governor in the state of North Carolina is completely separate from the office of the Governor, with the two candidates running on separate tickets. The role of the Lieutenant Governor is similar to that of the Vice President of the United States, with the job of presiding over the senate and being next in line to the governor in the case of a tragic event.
According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, McCrory has raised a total of $8.5 million this election cycle, and while the campaign has been quiet about where that money is going, much of it appears to be going toward television and Facebook advertising. In effect, McCrory has not focused on traveling the state for various grassroots oriented events such as town halls and bus receptions.
Throughout this election cycle, the Forest campaign has held town halls across the state, while also taking part in various parades and statewide events.
Bubba 2.0, as the campaign calls it, has become an iconic image in North Carolina Politics. The bus becomes a moving billboard as it travels across the state. While many campaigns may believe the ten miles per gallon gas mileage may not be worth it, the Forest campaign believes the time spent time with the people is priceless.
Forest ran a similar campaign in 2012 when he beat Linda Coleman by less than 7,000 votes. The campaign has put an emphasis on being close to the people, and in doing so touched down in all of North Carolina’s 100 counties. They did this in 2012 by using their large campaign bus wrapped with the slogan “Run Forest Run” (similar to the one they have now). The slogan is a play on the famous Forrest Gump quote, “Run Forrest Run.”
During a time where technology is expanding into new aspects of life, face-to-face campaigning is still alive and important to many people, especially in the state of North Carolina. A constituent is much more likely to remember a candidate if they have the opportunity to personally meet a candidate and shake their hand.