Rick Ridder, a long-time political strategist who has been called “a political version of Columbo,” has been at the center of some of America’s most epic political battles—everything from presidential death matches to the legalization of marijuana. In Looking for Votes in All the Wrong Places, Rick takes us on a whirlwind spin through his eventful career from the McGovern campaign to more recent candidates and causes. As he does so, he reveals his “22 rules of campaign management”—each one illustrated by entertaining, instructive, and mostly true stories from his own experiences.
Among the unforgettable characters he presents are:
- The state legislature candidate who said he’d win the election thanks to his international reputation as a judge in cat competitions.
- The U.S. Senate candidate campaigning in a southern state who told the press, “I hate southern accents.”
- A young Senator Al Gore who campaigned for President in 1988 by eating his way through New York City alongside Mayor Koch and ended up bonding with his opponent, Jesse Jackson, over high-school football.
- The candidate’s wife who decided to celebrate the arrival of spring by traveling bare-breasted in a convertible on her way to a campaign event.
- The mysterious South American candidate who just might have had a distinctive “negative” on his résumé: murder.
- Julie Christie at the height of her fame and attraction, on her way to a private meeting with George McGovern.
- Leonard Nimoy, good-naturedly trekking through rural Wisconsin in Rick’s own Jeep because Rick was still too young to rent a more appropriate vehicle.
Ridder offers an unsparing, often hilarious self-portrait of the political guru as a young man, criss-crossing the country from one drafty campaign headquarters to the next, making mistakes and pulling rabbits out of hats, participating in practical jokes, wrangling temperamental celebrities, winning some elections and losing others. All the while, he has absorbed life and professional lessons like a sponge and developed into the trusted political veteran he is today.
Looking for Votes in All the Wrong Places is a rare and enthralling backstage view of national and international politics over four decades—and an opportunity to spend time in the company of one of its most engaging operatives.