Author Interview: ‘Running Against the Devil’ author Rick Wilson talks politics at Midtown Reader

The bad boy of Florida’s Republican Party is back, with another fascinating read on politics… although this one could also be characterized as a self-help book for Democrats running in the 2020 Presidential Primary. Rick Wilson, author of “Running Against the Devil,” is hoping his newest book will be seen as a strategic plan for pushing back against the current Republican presidential campaign machine.

“The thing that has surprised me the most is how many Democrats have been receptive to the book,” Wilson told me. “It’s been a shock to me, and kind of a delight.”

Florida politicos know Wilson by name and reputation; he’s been involved in politics for decades, often serving as a hard-hitting consultant for Republican candidates. His somewhat recent foray into writing has allowed him to come out from behind the curtain, in his own words.

“I appreciate being able to be myself,” he said. “I made the decision three years ago to stand by my principles, and ever since then I’ve had an incredibly positive experience.”

He did not, he joked, turn to writing for the money, something his former colleagues sometimes rib him about. But he likes playing the role of teacher and explainer, being able to educate people about the political systems behind the scenes. His first book, “Everything Trump Touches Dies,” was more exposé than instruction manual, which he said was successful because he wasn’t afraid to be a smartass (the book hit No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list). “Running” is more about tough love.

“You want to help them,” he mused. “I’m not here to give anyone participation trophies.”

One of the greatest challenges Wilson has faced while writing his books is the struggle to keep them current as publishing deadlines loom and events of significance keep unfolding. For example, the vote to begin the impeachment process against the president happened just after “Running” had already been finalized, and Wilson worked hard (and successfully) to include mention of the monumental development in the final version.

“I always wish I could make one more change, one last edit,” he said. “But then you have to let it be.”

It’s advice which, frankly, probably applies to political campaigns as well.

This article was first published in the Tallahassee Democrat.