Campaign Crawlers

Campaign Crawlers

Surviving CPAC: A Cautionary Tale

By 3.4.15

I skipped town before they revealed the results of the annual CPAC straw poll, though I’d dutifully navigated the main hallway through the ten or so lines of bright-eyed college students looking to leave their mark on the tradition by skewing the results toward Rand Paul. Putting the straw poll outpost perpendicular to the waves of people flooding out of CPAC’s main ballroom had the twin effects of inciting a maddening claustrophobia among the crowds (thus, perhaps, encouraging alcohol consumption at the nightly parties), and making everyone hate the concept of trading free t-shirts for a moment of publicity everyone sloughs off anyway.

Campaign Crawlers

Nobody is Really Ready for Warren

By 2.12.15

I've seen the interviews and I've heard the songs. I've seen the fake poll showing her leading in Iowa. I've been subjected to her mug in every corner of the Internet since she first pulled ahead of Scott Brown in that fateful race for Senate that propelled her from the lowly ranks of the Harvard faculty and the Troubled Asset Relief Program bureaucracy to the glittery halls of national elected office.

But I don't really believe anyone really wants the Massachusetts mohican to run for president.

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Sarah Palin Strikes Out on the Field of Presidential Dreams

By 1.28.15

Our world is full of confounding mysteries, among them, whether Bigfoot exists (according to that Animal Planet show, the answer is clearly no), whether dairy-free cheese can rightly be considered cheese, why Nicki Minaj continues to record music, whether leggings can really be considered pants, and why Americans start their presidential campaigns more than a year ahead of time.

The Republican Party could revert to the age-old method of choosing its candidates in smoke-filled back rooms, out of the prying eyes of the public and away from disorienting flashbulbs and 24-hour news channels. But like moths, we find something strangely attractive about self-immolation. So, unsettled by the more reliable methods for choosing a standard-bearer for 2016, we instead parade our shame through flyover country beginning now, at the behest of a congressman who thinks climbing the border fence is a great workout for your calves.

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If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say

By 10.15.14

Here in Colorado, a funny thing happened on the way to the ballot box: The reliably liberal Denver Post endorsed Republican Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner over incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Udall.

Why did this happen? Because Mark Udall’s campaign has been — as I predicted three months ago on these pages — an unrelentingly negative and mindless barrage of “war on women” drivel.

Even the Post, whose editors noted that “we disagree with (Gardner) on same-sex marriage and abortion rights,” recognized that “Udall's campaign has devoted a shocking amount of energy and money trying to convince voters that Gardner seeks to outlaw birth control despite the congressman's call for over-the-counter sales of contraceptives. Udall is trying to frighten voters rather than inspire them with a hopeful vision. His obnoxious one-issue campaign is an insult to those he seeks to convince.”

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The Case of the Excited Republicans

By 8.29.14

By now word has reached even the remotest Florida precincts that incumbent Republican governor Rick Scott has won the right to run for a second term by trouncing two primary challengers who were unknown and weaker than Obama’s foreign policy.

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Now It’s Official

By 8.27.14

To the surprise of no one not on controlled substances, Rick Scott and Charlie Crist overcame weak primary opponents in a low turn-out election Tuesday to become the Republican and Democratic nominees for Florida governor. So it’s officially Mr. Sunshine against Mr. Clean (anyone who has seen Crist campaign and seen a picture of Scott will not question these sobriquets).

Incumbent Scott was the choice of 88 percent of Republicans over two unknown vanity candidates. Florida Democrats demonstrated that they want the Florida governorship so badly — an office their party hasn’t held since 1994 — that they’re willing to run just anyone with name recognition to achieve it. And badly is how they will get it if Crist wins in November, an outcome that seems increasingly unlikely.

Campaign Crawlers

Florida Air War

By 8.20.14


The governor’s race in Florida is on and it’s ugly. But like our pathetic response to ISIS, it’s almost entirely an air war. Mostly throwing dirt high into the air to little or no effect.

Incumbent Republican governor Rick Scott, along with his Democrat (for the moment) challenger and former Florida governor Charlie Crist, plus the various groups supporting these two, are running lots of television ads. Most of these ads helpfully point out that the other guy is a villain, a blackguard, a knave, a poltroon, and a low-down suck-egg dog (or words to this effect) with neither the integrity nor competence to be trusted with the office of assistant county rat-catcher, let alone governor. If Florida voters believe these ads, this could be the first election for governor in which no one votes.

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Two Thumbs Down

By 7.31.14

Harry Enten, an analyst with FiveThirtyEight, a political website owned by ESPN, claims he can prove with charts and graphs that Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott and his Democratic challenger Charlie Crist are the most unpopular pair to face each other in a governor’s race for at least the last decade. Without even consulting the charts and graphs, few Floridians outside of Scott’s or Crist’s camp would argue with Enten.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham Lives Another Day

By 6.11.14

During an interview I conducted back in April with Rep. Trey Gowdy for a profile that would appear in this very magazine, I asked the amiable South Carolinian if he had thought about challenging Sen. Lindsey Graham in his Senate primary this year. Gowdy laughed at me.

“Yes, I thought about challenging Lindsey Graham,” he told me jokingly, “because he out-negotiated me on the tee box the last time he and I played golf. And I would love to challenge him again at the course of his choosing!”

“Um, no,” he added simply. Gowdy, a popular and well-liked conservative in the House of Representatives, would have been as formidable a challenger as they come. He’s spent his life in the Palmetto State, working in the legal system to put criminals behind bars. He’s a legal crusader and a prosecutor, and even Speaker John Boehner, for better or worse, recognized his star power by appointing him chairman of the special committee to investigate Benghazi.

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Mississippi Keeps Fighting

By 6.4.14

HATTIESBURG, Mississippi — The most closely watched campaign in the country will continue for another three weeks, as Tea Party-backed challenger Chris McDaniel and Sen. Thad Cochran head to a June 24 runoff in the Republican primary here. Neither candidate won a majority in Tuesday’s primary vote, but McDaniel’s margin of about 2,000 votes out of more than 300,000 votes cast was enough for the young state senator to declare his win “a historic moment” for Mississippi.

“Our fight is not over,” McDaniel told the crowd in the Hattiesburg Convention Center ballroom last Tuesday night, as votes continued to be counted. “Whether it’s tomorrow, or whether it’s three weeks from tonight, we will stand victorious.”

The runoff was forced because there were three candidates on the ballot and a little-noticed third candidate, businessman Thomas Carey, got nearly 5,000 votes — only 1.6 percent of the total, but enough to keep McDaniel below the crucial majority needed to avoid the runoff. Yet the result Tuesday was cause for celebration among Tea Party activists who have spent months campaigning to defeat the six-term incumbent Cochran.