Running on all cylinders

Published 4:58 pm Friday, May 28, 2010

As his campaign bus the “Common Sense Express” chugs along Interstate 65 towards Greenville, Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim James is starting to show fatigue from a campaign that started over a year ago.

He sets down his glasses, rubbing his eyes, trying to fight back a yawn.

“For a year, you work so hard as you build the organization,” James said. “But now we are running on all cylinders. We are in a set line now.”

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James’ Common Sense Express plans to make stops in over 60 towns before finally ending up in Mobile next week. Though it sounds hectic, James said he’s already through the hardest part of a campaign – getting one started.

The process begins by building a team of hired professionals to run your campaign, James said. These ten or so paid campaigners are only a small part of the campaign team.

“Hopefully, when you get to the race, you end up with a family tree all the way down,” said James, a Greenville resident and married father of three. “You wind up with an army of sorts.”

Volunteers fill local positions, like county and city coordinators.

“We have worked very hard to build a statewide grassroots organization,” James said. “Television, paid media and radio will get you inside the 10-yard line. Grassroots is essential to get you over that line.”

The Common Sense Express epitomizes James’ grassroots efforts. The bus has spent the past eight days making stops in small towns throughout the state, passing through towns like Geneva, Opp and Evergreen.

“Some of them have big crowds and some small,” James said. “Its an opportunity to see where people’s minds are.”

The bus is nothing short of a mobile command center, complete with televisions linked up through satellite, and laptops with broadband connections and printers.

“We are well linked up,” James said.

As the bus draws closer towards Bates House of Turkey and the final destination of the day, his campaign is one step closer to the Tuesday primary.

But for a man whose gubernatorial aspirations could end as early as the Tuesday primary, James is incredibly serene, a trait he claims to have inherited from his father.

“I would get terribly unnerved in my dad’s races, but he was always cool as a cucumber,” James said. “In a weird way, its less nerve-wracking being a candidate than being one of the supporters.”

Tuesday, James said he will get up and vote. After that, there is nothing left to do but relax.

“As a candidate, you have done everything you can do,” James said. “You have just got to hope that you got your message out there.”