So I received multiple reports on how last night’s Ehrlich “Bookapalooza” event went.
Sources tell me that 120 tickets were sold – far less than the banquet room’s capacity, and far below the 1000 or so tickets which event organizers had hoped to sell. Organizers dropped the ticket price from $125 to $100 to spur interest.
Further, press was banned from the event. No doubt the anemic ticket sales had a lot to do with it. Otherwise, why would a fledgling author promoting his book pass up earned media coverage?
Nonetheless, the event reportedly raised about $20,000 for the state GOP, thanks to at least one angel sponsor stepping up at the very last minute. That’s no windfall, but it’s more than twice the amount the party’s “Red White and Blue” dinner raised last summer.
Delegate Bill Frank, who has been assisting the party with fundraising, was reportedly working the phones diligently. He deserves credit for getting the event into the black.
The problem here isn’t that folks didn’t work hard to plan this event. Rather, the problem was that the event itself was based on a flawed premise - namely, that applying the rules that usually work for planning a successful political fundraiser also pertain to a book launching.
It may be possible to get people to pay $125 (or even more than that) for the chance to listen to and mingle with a presidential candidate or sitting governor. But convincing people to shell out big bucks to get a copy of a book they can buy on Amazon.com for $16.30 and get signed for free is a tough sell, especially in a bad economy.
Forget about “Turning the Car Around.” It is time for the state GOP to turn the page.
No party should ever be relegated to becoming a tool to perpetuate the ambitions of only one politician - or, in this case, a former pol.
Rolling out celebrities from the party’s past won’t solve the party’s fundraising and leadership problems. Instead, the party needs to pick the right leaders and start articulating a compelling alternative to the state’s political status quo.
Alex Mooney's departure presents an opportunity here, one I will elaborate upon at length in future postings. But in the meantime, I'd like to see a young, energetic woman step up and put a new face on a staid old party. Hillary Foster Pennington, call your office.