August 1, 2011—Arlington, VA— Bill Taylor was never driven to run for public office. He does admit to having a keen interest in politics since his youngest days as a television news reporter. But it wasn’t until he put his 40-plus year media career behind him that he discovered a true desire for public service. He credits the Leadership Institute to helping him make his full commitment to the political process.
“I’ve always viewed life as a glorious adventure where opportunities are seized,” Bill said. “I’ve never felt like I worked a day in my life because I’ve always chosen to do what I love. Therefore, work was never drudgery; it was an exhilarating challenge.”
Bill spent the first decade of his broadcasting career as a TV news reporter, producer, news director and anchorman. He covered anti-war protests and the civil rights tumult of the 60’s and even interviewed Martin Luther King. He admits to being most fascinated by various politicians having had the opportunity to cover President Johnson and President Nixon and interview Hubert Humphrey in the back seat of his limo on the campaign trail. Most memorable was the 70th birthday of famed Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen. Bill went to Dirksen’s home in Pekin, Illinois, where the Senator played his piano and sang for Bill on camera.
For more than three decades, Bill was a media consultant. He was co-founder and CEO of media research and consulting firms based in Dallas, Los Angeles, and London. As a news consultant, he worked to maintain his political neutrality saying, “It was right and proper; I only wish fairness existed into today’s media.” Bill did serve George H.W. Bush’s White House as a consultant in 1991-92, but his focus was not political. He helped develop the President’s Points of Light initiative which honored volunteerism.
After retiring from consulting, Bill says his personal, political road trip began in January 2009 with the initial inkling he might run for the South Carolina General Assembly. Bill says, “It was an itch that needed scratching and like many conservatives I was troubled by what I saw coming from President Obama and the Democrats running Congress. It was not ‘Change’ I believed in.”
Bill spent the next seven months carefully considering his options and opportunities. Enter the Leadership Institute.
“My campaign success was fueled by our enrolling in LI’s Future Candidate’s School; it was a most valuable experience. It’s essential to be as knowledgeable as possible and prepared for the twists and turns of a political campaign. LI smoothed our political road to success. For that we are most thankful,” Bill says.
A pivotal moment came in August 2009 when the political road led Bill and his wife, Donna, to LI’s headquarters in Arlington, VA. Bill says, “My wife and I enrolled in LI’s Future Candidate School. We weren’t certain what to expect, but we knew we were in this political thing together as we have been during every major endeavor in our forty years of marriage. We weren’t disappointed!”
“We were well fed by LI, but the real nourishment came in the many hours we spent in the classroom listening and learning from the knowledgeable political experts from both inside LI and the outsiders brought in to stoke us with their knowledge and expertise,” Bill recounted.
A strong family man, Bill told his adult children about the decision to run for office in October of 2009. He officially announced his candidacy in January 2010. Applying LI tactics, Bill and his wife formed a campaign team, equipped with a full-time campaign manager, volunteers and a seasoned political consultant. They canvassed door-to-door for nearly three months, walking most neighborhoods in his large House district.
“I learned at LI that retail politics is essential; looking voters in the eye, discussing issues important to them, and asking for their vote is how one gets elected,” Bill said. “Besides, I found canvassing exhilarating and I couldn’t wait to knock on doors most evenings.”
“It paid off; we found success in the June 2010 primary election. With the help of many, I defeated the 8 year incumbent 57% to 43%. He was the establishment candidate who had lived in Aiken County all his life. I was the outsider having moved to South Carolina less than a decade ago,” Bill says. “I was endorsed by the three Aiken County Tea Parties. He was backed by the establishment. I was seen by many as bold, fresh, and accessible,” Bill says in looking back.
Bill implemented the tactics and strategies from the LI’s Future Candidate School on his campaign and found victory. For this, we welcome State Representative Bill Taylor as LI’s Graduate of the Week.
If you are considering running for office, come to LI’s Future Candidate School next week. Learn more and register here.
To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate you know for Graduate of the Week, please contact LI's External Affairs Officer Lauren Hart at LaurenHart@LeadershipInstitute.org.