I had no idea what it really took to run a campaign.
My friend asked, so I said, sure, what the heck.
His name was Lumon May. He wanted to challenge a longtime city and state representative, Clay Ford, so we did. The late Ford served both in Arkansas and Gulf Breeze as a city councilman and state lawmaker.
We were out of our league. We really had no business challenging him.
It’s amazing how far May — now an Escambia County District 3 commissioner — has progressed. He has so much more confidence and pizzaz now.
At the time he ran for State Representative District 3, a black man failed to win a state election in the Panhandle of Florida in more than 100 years.
But we didn’t know any better.
I remember drilling May for debates. We would go over and over and over it again. I would try to get him to say what he wanted to say in his own words.
May would shrink from the doors we knocked on when a dog started barking. That cracked me up. My girls would help fold and mail letters. We sustained ourselves on dry pizza.
Despite his lack and my lack of experience, he still nearly won.
We lost two big white precincts, which ended up being the decisive vote. The official result was 50.59 to 49.41 or only 717 votes total.
Now with that election under my belt, I made money being a campaign manager. I enjoyed scripting campaign videos, writing radio and TV ads and designing mailers.
May went on to do even better as a county commissioner in District 3. He earned 70.9% in 2012 and 76.1% in 2016.
I teamed with Travis Peterson to run Ashton Hayward’s first Pensacola mayoral campaign in 2010. He defeated Mike Wiggins. We refused to participate in a chamber debate because we could.
That election turned out to be sweet because the victory came down to two majority black precincts that Hayward captured.
Just think, if I had decided to stay on the sidelines.
I would have stayed in newspapers and never given political consulting a shot.
When the opportunity presents itself, try it. You may realize you have skills.
Duwayne Escobedo covers Santa Rosa County for the Daily News. You can contact him at 850-315-4489 in Fort Walton Beach, on his cell phone at 850-255-1484 or email him at email@example.com