Former At-Large Jacksonville City Council candidate Mincy Pollock has mostly stayed out of the public eye since his loss in the First Election. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been making moves. One of those being his attendance of the Congressional Black Caucus Boot Camp earlier in July, at the behest of Representative Corrine Brown.
As Pollock put it during a Friday morning breakfast conversation near City Hall, “if I wouldn’t have run the race, I wouldn’t have been here now. I got the attention of some folks,” including the congresswoman, who actually endorsed fellow Democrat and now-incumbent Councilman Tommy Hazouri on her Quick Picks.
“What I know now,” he added, “maybe it just wasn’t time yet.”
Pollock’s campaign was infused with a youthful energy and verve that got him into double digits in the March tally, in spite of him having less than $21K fundraising. He ran a quintessential grassroots campaign, bucking the Democratic party establishment at times. Now, with CBC training and the connections he made, he is closer to being in accord with that establishment for whatever move comes next.
Pollock, along with 40 others from around the country, and a few prominent Democrats from the Jacksonville area, including Siottis Jackson, Rhodesia Butler, and Bradford Hall, spent a full seven days immersed in CBC strategy sessions, which ran the gamut from messaging and fundraising to organizing a viable campaign strategy. CBC Boot Camp tactics have proven to work in Jacksonville, as the successful 2015 campaign of Councilwoman Katrina Brown (against a veteran Democrat with other political veterans handling her campaign) showed recently.
“From going here,” Pollock related, “I got a bird’s eye view of how [things] are tied together. There with 40 others from around the country,” he added, “you realize you’re just average.”
Describing the CBC Boot Camp as a “humbling experience,” it showed him his “strengths and weaknesses.”
One such lesson: to “make sure you’re involved” in the community and party politics before running a campaign.
“I wasn’t as intentional as I could have been,” Pollock said.
Another lesson: “learn Spanish” and “have a stronger presence in the Hispanic community.”
That is especially interesting, given that during the just concluded mayoral campaign, Representative Brown brought Rep. Luis Guiterrez to town to record a robocall and stump for Mayor Alvin Brown.
Still another lesson: don’t launch the public side of the campaign too early, and don’t get out ahead of the fundraising. Launching two years out is pointless, he said, because “who’s going to remember you?”
Regarding the group training, one major activity was running a campaign for a hypothetical candidate, Susan Simpatico.
Simpatico is a professor at a technical school in a rural area that is urbanizing. A single mother, she moved to town 15 years before. The local meat plant had closed recently; new technical jobs are an issue of concern for voters.
Simpatico ran a campaign against an incumbent Republican: a quarterback of the hometown team; a charter school cheerleader who cut education; and a man who somehow arranged it to where students at the local college could not vote.
The idea was to frame Simpatico’s messaging as that of a “person who cared” with a “stake in the community.” She had access to corporate dollars from her college ties. Students had to balance the messaging against that of her opponent.
“They challenged you to deal with his strengths and how to counteract them,” Pollock related.
With representatives from the Wellstone Institute, Three Point Strategies, and Diane Feldman (“the guru of gurus on polls”) teaching them the ropes, Pollock and the other attendees learned how to balance a grassroots appeal with a professional campaign apparatus.
And they had to learn to work on the fly. They had 30 minutes to devise a sample radio spot. Pollock and his team did one using first-person accounts of those recently unemployed, saying I lost my job; I matter.
Pollock is immensely grateful to Brown, saying that attending the boot camp is a “dream for any candidate” and that he was “honored that she saw [him] as viable.” He will have his college degree later this year, and is going on to law school after that, to bolster his credentials and his viability.
For now, he is watching and learning before making his next bid for office.