Campaign Crawlers

Campaign Crawlers

Politics As Usual If Not Worse

By 2.19.14

The special election campaign to fill the 13th Congressional District of Florida seat in the U.S. House of Representatives is no more raucous, hyperbolic, dishonest, and all around incoherent than most. In fact it’s about average, which means it’s very dishonest and incoherent indeed.

Watching the TV ads in this hotly contested race — I’m obliged to as I live in the same TV market as St. Petersburg, the largest city in CD13 — it’s makes one wonder why anyone ever contributes to a political campaign. And as this race, rightly or wrongly, is considered to have national significance since it will say something about the national mood (whatever that is), lots of money is pouring into this one from all points. The mute button on lots of Central Florida television remotes will be put to good use between now and March 11, the date of this special election, which probably isn’t as special as the national political experts believe it is. At least the local broadcast industry will do well out of this fandango.

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Campaign Crawlers

Close One in St. Pete

By 1.27.14

The March 11 special congressional election in Florida’s 13th district — pitting Republican David Jolly against Democrat Alex Sink — is likely drawing more attention than it warrants. National publications have written about it, and various pundits and political prognosticators from all points have mined it for indications of the national mood.

Well, all right. I guess all of this attention does no harm. After all, column inches and airtime have to be filled. And the spotlight has certainly increased the national money flowing into this race, money that will stimulate the local economy far more than anything Obama has done. But trend-spotters have almost certainly overplayed their hands in a race that will be determined by the peculiarities of the local district, not by any shift in the national zeitgeist. 

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Scott Brown for New Hampshire?

By 12.27.13

Scott Brown’s famous GMC pickup truck displays neither a gun rack nor an NRA bumper sticker. What it does noticeably feature is a Massachusetts license plate. And yet Brown, who spent at least part of Christmas day unpacking moving boxes in his Rye, N.H., home, is the consensus front-runner for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate from New Hampshire next year. Through all of this year’s national talk about Brown — his ego, his political future, his chances against Democratic incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen — the real story has been lost. It isn’t Brown. It’s the New Hampshire Republican Party’s inability to recruit top-tier candidates. 

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Democrats Knocking on Doors

By 11.15.13

LYNDEN, Washington -- “Oh shoot!” if one need edit.

There was cursing from Republicans all over Whatcom County as the results of the county council elections slowly rolled in. The right-of-center bloc of four councilmembers had enjoyed a one-vote majority going into the elections, which put three of their seats at risk. All three lost, leaving Sam Crawford as the single conservative voice in county government.

Whatcom County offices are usually non-partisan in name only. Candidates here are endorsed and campaigned for by parties. Local Democrats dearly wanted these county officials to go down, and go down they did.

The Democrats’ campaign pressed two points against their opponents: 1) they are Tea Party-connected extremists; and 2) they want to allow the construction of the deep water Gateway Pacific Terminal for exports to Asia, which would mean more coal-bearing trains running through the most granola-crunching parts of Bellingham.

Tea Party alarums may have softened up some Bellingham voters. My friend Dillon Honcoop, a hard news and analysis-focused host for local KGMI radio, predicts that Republicans “will be running scared next year.”

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The Anti-Cuccinelli Axis

By 11.7.13

The roots of Ken Cuccinelli’s 2.5 point loss to ultrapartisan national Democrat and Hillary Clinton stalking horse Terry McAuliffe were planted by Republican incumbent Gov. Bob McDonnell.

McDonnell began with a damn good start on state fiscal issues, cutting back runaway state overspending to balance the budget with no tax increases. But he finished by throwing in with the crony capitalist Northern Virginia business establishment, which always wants more tax increases (on others) to finance still more road building. McDonnell consequently ended his term by winning still another sales tax increase for roads, to further increase state spending on a Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce plan to pave over Northern Virginia.

These tax increasing crony capitalists have a long history of leading those who go along with their tax and spending schemes to political defeat in Virginia. McDonnell’s tax increasing sellout to them polluted the Republican brand just before Cuccinelli’s campaign began.

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Look to Cruz, Not to Christie

By 11.6.13

Arnold Schwarzenegger won re-election handily in 2006, defeating his hapless opponent Phil Angelides by a 56% to 38.9% margin. Yet this sizable win was a meaningless victory for the GOP. Similarly, Chris Christie’s thumping victory on Tuesday night over an equally forgettable candidate contains almost no national meaning, save that Chris Christie is good for Chris Christie. Like Schwarzenegger, Christie cruised to re-election not as a real Republican but as a preening non-partisan moderate. Like Schwarzenegger, Christie’s popularity hasn’t translated into any support for Republicans in his own legislature.

Which raises the question: How could Christie turn blue states red nationwide if he can’t turn his own legislature red?

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