After a heroic act catapults him into the national eye,
Michigan's governor, Luke Cooper, decides to make a run at
the United States presidency. African American and Jewish,
he's an unlikely candidate, one who is given little chance
at the outset. But Cooper, with help from trusted friends
and family, mounts what becomes a formidable campaign. Will
he become the nation's first double minority president and
will his close relationships survive the process?
THE GQ CANDIDATE is a fun, breezy look at the behind-the-
scenes workings of a presidential campaign. Obviously based
on the 2008 campaign of President Barack Obama, the novel
draws similarities between Obama and the fictional Cooper.
Both are Ivy League educated lawyers. Both were raised by
white parents, although Obama's was a single mother. Both
have statuesque, fashion-savvy, confident wives who struggle
with presenting themselves in a way that appeals to voters
yet are fiercely protective of their husbands and children.
Both enjoy a game of basketball with friends.
Beyond a take-off on the presidential couple, THE GQ
CANDIDATE feels a bit like a roman a clef, what with many of
the secondary candidates feeling as though they are thinly
veiled celebrity profiles or mashups, from the Los Angeles-
based elite professional basketball player and his less than
demure wife to the close family friend and advisor who is
the pastor of a prominent church to yet another clergyman
who has lost his relevance and is known for taking up civil
rights causes—for the right price.
THE GQ CANDIDATE is one of those books that will get a mix
some glowing and some less than enchanted. I understand
both perspectives, but I'm going to stand closer to the body
that is throwing light, not shade, on this story. The topic
may not be your typical beach read, but Goff's style makes
the novel a quick read, just perfect for summer. It's also
a primer in behind-the-scenes campaign activity, from
fundraising to public relations to damage control. One can
only imagine, as the country is in the midst of yet another
presidential campaign, what crises are being averted and
kept from an overly saturated public to what favors are
being sought in exchange for each and every donation.
The West Wing meets Entourage when “one of the
most provocative political bloggers in the country” (The
Philadelphia Tribune) exposes the stunning implications
a historical bid for the presidency has on the candidate’s
Michigan governor Luke Cooper, one of the
few black and—by virtue of adoption—Jewish elected
officials, stuns his tight-knit friends with his decision to
run for president. But could their efforts to help
ultimately be his political downfall? Scandal and gossip
surrounding his supporters rock his campaign, and even
Luke’s wife grows wary of the spotlight when a surprise from
their past inconveniently resurfaces. . . .
for the Los Angeles Times’s summer reading list and
as one of More magazine’s “Beach Reads You’ll Love,”
Keli Goff ’s clever and entertaining debut novel is a
spot-on golden ticket into the secret heart of the political