Campaign Management School draws more than 40 conservatives

March 14, 2011 | By

Florida campaign manager Andrea Penton, Vancouver CEO Julian Haigh, Texan entrepreneur Trent Derr, and more than forty other conservatives came to the Leadership Institute for its Campaign Management School (CMS), a week-long, intensive "boot camp" in campaign management last week.

The school teaches students the ins and outs of campaigning through intensive training and real life stories, and in doing so, give students the how-to knowledge they need to succeed. As CMS student Gus Leventis of Addison, Illinois said, "The [CMS] will teach you how to win!"

The week-long school drew future campaign managers, campaign staff, and several potential candidates. Among the candidates was Lynda Fairman (photograph below), a candidate for a Virginia State Senate seat. "I was visiting our state senator and every question I asked, the current state senator answered, ‘We'll just have to disagree on that,'" Lynda explained. "I asked about an education issue, since it is a field I am well experienced in, and it was an issue I was certain everyone would agree was a state issue. He claimed it was a district issue, looked at me then said, ‘We'll just have to disagree on that.' As we are about to leave, he sarcastically says, ‘Hmph. You should run for School Board.' I turn around, and blurt out ‘Actually, I think I'll run for your job!'"

Lynda laughed. "He [the senator] just looked at me, then says, ‘Get in line.' With this training, I feel I have been given the tools to succeed. Not just for my campaign but for the movement as a whole."

Emily Lucier, a contract documents paralegal in Richmond, Virginia shared her experience: "This has been such a plethora of invaluable information that has given me ideas for my candidate all week." She attended the school because she'll serve as campaign manager for a local government race in Richmond this fall. "This training has helped me to first consider the skills I have and how to use them, and also has given me a strong, organizational frame in how to go about planning a campaign. Learning these tools and processes will allow me to go forward with confidence."

The CMS featured experienced, expert faculty members who brought many years' experience with campaigns -- and a willingness to share their knowledge with eager students.

"The campaign management training was an intense, one-week experience packed with the best practices and wisdom of the most impressive group of consultants I have met," said Trent Derr of Texas.

"Just this week alone, the training has been successful," said CMS attendee Dr. Lolita Mancheno-Smoak. She teaches graduate and undergraduate business at the University of Phoenix and Strayer University, and is an at-large candidate for the Fairfax County (VA) School Board. "What [LI] teaches is not just theory, but application. When you know you can immediately apply it, you know it is valuable," as she had already put the training to use by crafting a coalition of support for her candidacy.

Lolita praised the training as teaching "the good, the bad, and the ugly of real campaigning based on real-life experiences."  She added "fundamentally I think everyone should take this school. Not only campaign managers, but candidates, as well. I am ecstatic! We learn the right questions, the proper techniques, and bottom line you could never get this from a book. This is good!"

Sharing this sentiment, Lynda Fairman added, "And not only is the training itself good, but the dinners at night and being able to stay in the dorms allows us to network and connect with each other. This is definitely worth my -- and the donors' -- money...Most of the lasting connections are made after class."

After a week at the Campaign Management School, the more than 40 students are ready to contribute to the conservative movement as campaign managers, campaign staff, or future candidates. Perhaps Lynda explains it best: "Prior to this school, I felt like I was jumping off a cliff into a pit. Now, I'm ready!"