Lawyers like to say that trials are often won or lost when the jury is selected. Get the right people on the jury and you'll improve your chances for success.
The parallel in politics is the filing deadline, especially in cases where one party is trying to find a candidate to challenge an incumbent or known quantity. The political landscape is littered with forgotten names of hopefuls who never had a chance against an established opponent.
And this is the challenge facing the West Virginia Democratic Party for the 2014 U.S. Senate race.
Longtime Sen. Jay Rockefeller is not running for re-election. Surely there should be established Democrats who have been paying their dues, anxiously awaiting a chance.
But there aren't.
Third District Congressman Nick Rahall thought about running for the U.S. Senate, but decided instead to try to win re-election.
West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant's name has surfaced, but she's believed to be more interested in running for governor in 2016.
Robin Davis? She would have to give up her seat on the state Supreme Court the moment she declared her candidacy, making her entry unlikely.
After that, the names of possible candidates that have surfaced so far are those of political newcomers.
Ralph Baxter has taken himself out of contention. Baxter is a successful and wealthy attorney who spent most of his adult life in San Francisco, but has returned to his native state to try to make a difference.
However, a political campaign doesn't fit right now.
"My family and I have decided that this is not the right time for us to seek political office," he told me on Talkline last week.
Then there is Nick Preservati.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has personally recruited the Charleston lawyer, believing that he can run as a business-friendly, pro-life Democrat who has a strong connection to the coal industry.
His father, Dick, is a successful coal operator who made millions when he sold his holdings to Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal.