The last group picture

Last shot

Phillip and Kathryn have already remarked upon a version of this photo, on Facebook. Said Phillip:

Brad looking extra cool and laid-back there off to the side, showing the youngsters how it’s done.

This was on Saturday. It was the last time campaign staff were together in headquarters. We had cleaned the place out. Or rather, everybody else had cleaned the place out and I had helpfully watched them do it.

I was more helpful on Thursday, when we had dismantled and removed most of the furniture. I went through every sheet of paper in the random heap on my desk — actually, a bare-bones table from Ikea — and then dismantled the table, and left the pieces on the front porch where presumably someone was to pick them up. And did some other stuff, but mainly dealt with my own particularly chaotic space.

But when I got there Saturday, I was late, and everyone else seemed to have a task, and before I could get my bearings we were done, and posing for pictures. (The group you see above is more or less the core staff, with a volunteer or two. Some people who played a major role are missing, such as Phil Chambers.)

It wasn’t a total waste, though. Managing to look cool in the picture is in itself an accomplishment, right?

I’ll have more to say about the last few months, about what preceded the cleaning-out. But I’ll probably unpack it randomly, as a picture or a word or something in the news reminds me. My mind is still decompressing at the moment. All those months of intensity at an increasingly faster pace, culminating with those eight days and nights on the RV — it’s going to take time to process.

In the meantime, there’s the last picture. There will be more. I shot thousands… Below is one (that I did not shoot; this was done by a professional) showing some of the same people the day Joe Biden came to Charleston.

Between those two was the most intense part of the experience. The Biden thing seems in a way like yesterday, and in a way like 10 years ago…

Biden group shot


18 thoughts on “The last group picture

    1. Dave Crockett


      My condolences on the loss by Smith. I voted for him, knowing full well that his chances of carrying any Upstate counties was extremely slim. No regrets on my part for all of the fruitless votes I cast this time around. I don’t base my votes on who has the best/only chance of winning.

      I’m sure YOUR experience was interesting. Many, many moons ago I was exhorted by a colleague in the broadcast business to tie myself to Dick Riley’s star (back during his gubernatorial bid) and ride the PR train with him. I didn’t…primarily because I had one small child and a wife in tow who had no interest in that kind of activity…she barely tolerated my being a radio news reporter (she’s LONG gone now…new wife of 31 years a much better choice). I’ve often wondered how my life would have been different. Anyway, I’m very interested in a full debriefing of your experience.

      I’m looking forward to the blog getting back in operation on a regular basis.

  1. C J Watson

    I have missed your blogposts and look forward to your return. I was a Smith/Norrell supporter and appreciate your work on their behalf. I hope to read many stories of the campaign and of the people involved in the effort, as well as the every day stuff you post. I’m sorry you/they didn’t win. Now back to work please.

  2. Doug Ross

    The photos seem to reflect my belief that one of the factors contributing to Smith’s loss was a lack of attention to the black voters in the state. An energized black community might have made a difference.

    I’d be interested to know if you formed lasting friendships with any of the young people in the first photo and whether you had the opportunity to hear their perspectives on the issues.

  3. Brad Warthen

    Actually, while I appreciate the kind sentiment, what Phillip said couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyone in the picture , except the little girl, had more campaign experience than I. And probably the little girl, too, since her mother is a campaign veteran…

  4. Brad Warthen

    Two key people were missing from the top picture: Kendall Corley, our political director, and senior adviser Phil Chambers.

    Phil IS in the Biden picture. He’s the tall redheaded guy in the back. It would be strange for him to be missing from that picture, since he did as much as anyone to arrange that event and make it a success…

      1. Clark Surratt

        Brad, people on here and others in conversation with me have said they would like to see your analysis of campaign/election. I sure hope you will provide that soon. Thanks.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Yeah, as I get time. I’m picking up threads of my former life right now, and tying up loose ends on the campaign, so I haven’t had much time to think about blog posts. And there’s just SO MUCH from the campaign to unpack and think about, it’s hard to know where to start….

      2. Doug Ross

        Another vanity campaign with 0.0% chance of winning anything. Does any sane person believe Garcetti could win a primary in Iowa, NH, or SC?

        But I suppose political consultants need to create the perception of a chance in order to put food on their tables. Shills gotta shill. This would be the equivalent of being trying to help Roseanne Barr win Miss America.

        I’m looking forward to next year when the doors open on the clown car for the Democratic nomination for President. It is potentially going to be even more chaotic than the Republicans were in 2016. Biden, Warren, Harris, Booker, Sanders. Then the 800 pound gorilla Hillary will rise from the ashes to reclaim her birthright.. then throw in Bloomberg and the ex CEO of Starbucks Shultz. And that’s just the beginning. There will be any number of egotistical politicians who will want to jump in and collect money from saps to travel around the country pretending to be relevant. All the while, Trump will be mocking them on Twitter and get more attention than they do.

        Since the Democratic party lacks any focus, any structure, any core values, it’s going to be a beautiful mess to watch.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Speaking of Kendall… I just realized something surprising. When I went looking for a picture to link you to, I found this one, from my blog.

      I had NO memory of that. I had no idea he had run for office himself, and I had interviewed him at the time. There were just SO MANY such interviews over the years.

      It’s like… these days I’m always meeting people and they say, “We’ve met before; I came in for an endorsement interview!” At which point there’s this awkward pause before I ask, “Well… did we endorse you?” And of course, very often, the answer is no.

      Y’all know about my testimony in Jim Harrison’s trial, right? It all arose from this blog post. I went back and read that, and the post about his opponent, Boyd Summers, and a related column… and yet I can’t for the life of me recall which of them we endorsed…

  5. bud

    I can save all the pundents and analyst a lot of time regarding the 2020 campaign. Trump has zero chance if the economy sours. Which it will but the timing is what matters. Perhaps we can stay on course another 2 years without a downturn but don’t bet on it. This bullish economy has lasted a long time already. With interest rates rising and debt at all levels exploding it just doesn’t seem plausible for spending to remain robust. I predict a 40 state win for president elect Gillibrand.

    1. Barry

      True Bud. I’m starting to read some financial analysts warn of a downtown coming sooner rather than later and that it might not be pretty at all.

      My 401k performance for the year is under 4%. The Dow Jones performance for the year is 2.8%.

      Housing is taking a brutal beating. U.S. homebuilding fell more drastically than expected in September, according to the Commerce Department. Housing starts dropped 5.3 percent after rising slightly in August. Existing home sales also dropped the most in over two years as rising material costs crimped supply and rising mortgage rates deterred prospective buyers.

      It’s coming.

    2. Barry

      Economy is poised to decline.

      My 401k growth in 2018 has been under 4%. Down Jones Average is only up 2.8% for the year.

      U.S. homebuilding fell more drastically than expected in September, according to the Commerce Department. Housing starts dropped 5.3 percent after rising slightly in August. Existing home sales also dropped the most in over two years as rising material costs crimped supply and rising mortgage rates deterred prospective buyers.

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