Reviewing Kathleen Falk’s Recall Campaign Announcement

Kathleen Falk, former Dane County Executive, declared her candidacy yesterday for governor. Below I have embedded her video declaration, a screenshot of her website, and a chart from the Journal Sentinel of Democrats who may run against Walker.

These are first impressions of Falk’s campaign announcement. They address only the politics, and not the merits, of Falk’s campaign.

The video. Falk’s video surprises – for someone who has been in politics for years, this is a poor setting, poor delivery, and poor presentation.

It’s a mistake to put Falk on camera behind a stark black background. Even a blank white background would have been better. A recall campaign should inspire optimism; this dark setting does the opposite.

She should not be in a studio; the entire video should have shots of her walking around, with her own narration. Fast-paced, energetic, confident.

The delivery. Her delivery is slow, almost somnolent, where a quicker tempo would be preferable. It’s fine to tell a story about someone she’s met, but Falk should do so with evident enthusiasm. An NPR-style delivery will not serve a Democrat well in a race against Gov. Walker.

There’s nothing pithy or epigrammatical in her remarks, and yet that’s critical for a recall candidate: a mix of terse, easily-remembered, variously funny or biting comments is essential.

There’s no energy in her delivery, and worse, she speaks with a discernible lisp. That slurring of consonants (particularly ‘s’) may be a consequence of age, or of ill-fitting dental work, but either way it conveys an impediment.

Falk’s sixty, I think, and she looks like a woman of her age. She’s not aged poorly, but she’s not aged particularly well, either. For a woman with a white-collar career (lawyer, politician) behind her, she’s probably aged less well than some Wisconsin women who’ve had harder lives.

Her hair, short, overly-dark, and pulled back from her face, reminds viewers of an ageing teacher on the verge of retirement. Look at her photo from the Journal Sentinel’s chart of candidates, and one sees a softer, more appealing image. There, she’s lovely and professional, with lighter hair, covering her forehead and just around her ears.

The website. The website, as the screenshot shows, now highlights Falk’s announcement video. Since the video displays her poorly, the website is a disadvantage. She needs a better photo, and a livelier video, as her re-introduction to voters. (She’s run and lost statewide twice before, to Doyle in a primary and to J.B. Van Hollen in a general election.)

Even as a bare-bones start, this is a tepid effort.

Other Democrats, and Team Walker, will see as much.

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