Cary Pepper
Self-funded Independent candidate MALCOLM WILKES (mid 30s-early 40s) is trailing in the polls by several points. Which is great news - because he’s running against favorite Peter Haley and no one thought he’d do this good.
He’s also killing Haley’s other opponent,   Jerome Neilson, who has full party backing. Which is why STUART SEVERIT (mid 40s-early 50s), from the National Committee that’s backing Neilson, strides into Malcolm’s threadbare campaign headquarters with an offer. “Imagine what you could do with some help from us,” Severit confidently tells Malcolm.

“I don’t want help from either Party,” responds Malcolm. “I don’t think either one is doing a good job.”
His campaign manager (who’s also his fiancé) LISA MANDFREDI (mid 30s-early 40s) agrees.
Malcolm got in this to try to change things.

When Severit pushes harder, both Malcolm and Lisa point out that maybe Malcolm is doing this well because
“I’m giving voters something they want. An honest candidate who really cares about serving them, solving problems,
and addressing issues, rather than just winning and making the other guy look bad as he does it.”

But Severit will not be denied. He’s got a plan to help Malcolm win this thing. A key part of that plan is his assistant,
MICHELLE HOLT (early-mid 20s), a whiz at digging things up on opposition candidates. Michelle and Severit call them Gotchas, and she’s got a doozy on Haley.
Never mind that it’s dirty politics as usual - and not even true. If this little tidbit gets out, it could blow Haley
out of the water.

Malcolm and Pete have agreed to run a clean campaign. And so far they’re doing it. But for Malcolm, this could mean
the difference between winning and losing. It’ll also mean compromising his principles in so many ways.
Which Malcolm refuses to do.

Malcolm’s response puts an end to Severit’s plan, infuriating  Severit and Michelle, who vow to bring him down.

Lisa, who’s now locked in a battle of wills and put-downs with Michelle, tells her not to bother. “Let me save you some time. Mal doesn’t smoke. Doesn’t drink hard liquor. Doesn’t swear. Doesn’t hang around school yards. He’s so clean
he’s boring.”

But this only whets Michelle’s appetite. “People like you, who think they’re untouchable are easy. And you won’t
see it coming. This is gonna be fun.”

Maybe Michelle needn’t bother. Malcolm’s campaign soon hits a wall when an off-the-cuff remark starts a media frenzy
that derails his campaign. Before long Malcolm can’t talk about anything but one idiotic issue reporters won’t leave alone. He fed the Beast; now the Beast is feeding on him. And his numbers plummet.

In a matter of weeks, Neilson - a total incompetent who has no business being in office - is only a few points
behind Daley. One more break, and Neilson could actually win this.

Which brings Severit and Michelle back to Malcolm’s campaign headquarters, with another offer. If Malcolm drops out
of the race, (giving them a chance to help Neilson scoop up the voters still committed to Malcolm) they’ll fund a PAC
for him, giving him a war chest for another race.
“You set out to accomplish something,” Severit tells him. “That’s not gonna happen. But it could. In two years.
And next time, maybe you will accomplish something. I’m giving you a shot.”

With nothing left to lose, Malcolm takes his shot. But it’s not what Severit has in mind.

2M / 2W