Jack Kingston has worked in the belly of the political beast for nigh on a quarter-century, including 11 consecutive successful campaigns for the U.S. House of Representatives.
That kind of success and longevity would bestow veteran status on anyone. But the more the Savannah Republican delved into a possible run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Saxby Chambliss, the more he realized he was venturing into the mechanized hum of a startlingly new campaign universe.
“The difference between running a congressional race and running statewide is kind of like moving from football to baseball,” Kingston said. “It’s a different kind of sport.
“You have to wholesale instead of retail.”
The differences are borne on the sheer size, scope and cost of statewide races.
No longer would Kingston personally decide every strategic element of his campaign.
Now he needed a political consultant for the first time in his career.
No longer would Kingston write his own television and print advertising.
Now he needed full-time media people. And fundraising people. And full-time pollsters. And social media gurus. And schedulers.
And on and on.
In some ways, it’s like going to one of those car washes where they make you put your car in neutral and take your hands off the wheel.
You just have to trust that the thing isn’t going to send you crashing into the wall.
“It’s been difficult,” Kingston said. “You end up giving up a lot of control of your campaign and your life.”