Most candidates running for higher office put out a biography full of statesmanlike platitudes, such as “There’s a lot of talk these days about the decline of the American family.” (To quote from Barack Obama’s mealy-mouthed campaign volume, The Audacity of Hope.)
Not Rickey Hendon, who’s running for mayor of Chicago. His book, Backstabbers: The Reality of Politics, published this year by Academy Chicago Publishers, is a practical campaign manual, containing advice on everything from how to bind petitions together to what kind of beverages to keep in your campaign office to how to respond when your opponent tries to play the “Yo Mamma” card. It also contains payback for politicians Hendon says stabbed him in the back, including County Treasurer Maria Pappas (“she dropped me and many of her close friends soon after she won”) and Sen. Roland Burris, who endorsed Hendon’s rival in this year’s Democratic primary for lieutenant governor. (“Several people whom I thought I could depend on let me down.”)
Here are some highlights.
DON’T TURN IN SLOPPY PETITIONS:
“Make sure you bind your petitions together and your statement of candidacy in the proper order…I have punched holes in my petitions and strung them together with boxes cut into squares and cardboard covers.”
PLACE YOUR POSTERS WHERE VOTERS CAN SEE THEM:
“I came up with the idea of having mobile posters, which are enormous signs with my name and picture on them, being held up by three or four people on the walk-over above highways so when people drive past them they see my sign that says ‘Re-elect Rickey Hendon.’ The size of posters is important because people need to read them.”
WHEN DEBATING, DRESS SHARP…BUT NOT TOO SHARP:
“Make sure you wear the right clothes. Blue suits with red ties seem to be the safe choice for men. I look good in gray…Avoid controversial colors, headbands or hats of any kind. Religious symbols can also bother some voters.”
KEEP ORANGE JUICE AND ASPIRIN ON HAND:
“Never allow your sick contagious workers to hang around the office. If they infect a few people it can spread through your operation and that will really slow you down. Always in cold weather, keep plenty of orange juice and aspirin around. Many campaigns just concentrate on having plenty of coffee. Do not make this error.”
DON’T ALLOW YOUR OPPONENT TO INSULT YOUR MOTHER:
“He said I was homosexual, and that I was not fit to be a senator because I was gay. I was able to handle all that pretty well because I am not gay and I’m not homophobic either. Then he went really, really negative and said something about my mother… “Yo momma” are fighting words. I lost my temper and dealt with that situation in a most severe way. We had to be separated by church deacons while some of our workers went at it…Now, even though I handled it in a nonprofessional way, I picked up a lot of supporters because they would have fought if someone had attacked their mother’s good name.”
“The last time I saw a crew flip over lunch was in the race where I was helping someone else. The candidate I was helping was in jail so it made it easier for the Backstabbers…I went into this one polling place, and the judges were livid. They hadn’t had lunch…By the time I returned to the polling place they didn’t even care about the cold chicken I had because they had gotten a hot lunch from our enemies. Our opponents had brought in lunch with canned heat and set it up on trays in the back. They had a mini-kitchen going with fresh soul food and our workers changed sides.”
Is Hendon ready to be mayor? Who knows. But he’s definitely ready to run for mayor.