In the midst of an election campaign, one of the biggest challenges for a candidate is to 'cut through' the dross, grandstanding and overhyped posturing of all the others. It's a rare skill, and even more so in an era of cynical politicians and an even more cynical electorate.
In the battle for Prahran, Clem Newton-Blog seems to be doing just that.
The past week has seen CNB come close to overwhelming the electorate with campaign material. Normally this is barely worthy of comment, especially in a marginal electorate. What is noteworthy, though, is that CNB's campaign is fresh and innovative in a way that makes "Talk to Me" Tony struggle in his wake.
Newton-Blog has letterboxed the electorate promoting an afternoon tea on Saturday in the home of one of his constituents, along with guests David Davis and Big Ted himself. The function is limited to 150 places (which is 1% of the electorate) but the flyer would make CNB's accessability known to many more beyond that. It show's Newton-Blog as an open and available person, and the invite has a charming old-world feel to it.
Wandering along Chapel Street, the clogged arterty which runs through the middle of the electorate, I came across two motorcycle mobile billboards trumpeting that I should "Vote Clem... Vote Ted" along with the aforementioned's smiling faces. (Normally I'd publish the photos to share this find, but at the moment my camera and computer are getting on with each other about as well as the Liberals and Nationals are.) Motorised billboards are certainly a step up from Clem's bicycled A-Frame, and would surely have cost plenty.
To add to all that, apparently Clem's famous YouTube debut will be coming out as a DVD, delivered to a letter box near you some time soon. The man clearly means business.
As for the Lupton campaign, there's been a decent volume of mail (although even then it is dwarfed by all the Clem-aphenalia) but crucially it lacks the ability to cut through. Every week there's been a personally addressed letter banging on about the wonderful achievements of St Steve and the horrors of evil Mr Baillieu, but it reads like it came straight out of the Labor election campaign kit. It lacks colour or movement or a sense of excitement.
My hunch is that the Lib's have identified Prahran as an electorate which is likely to swing. The resources poured into the Clem campaign must surely dwarf what even the candidate himself thought possible. This is no longer merely a young local upstart tring to shave a couple of percent of the sitting member. This is now a concerted, highly funded campaign focussed on the end game.
A week to go, gentlemen.