Campaign Crawlers

Campaign Crawlers

A Solid Republican Night

By 3.5.14

No, Republican voters didn’t go nuts in Texas, stampeding in every direction, trampling abortionists, illegal immigrants, and gun-control advocates — as Democrats had hoped might be the case.

A total absence of certified crazies with tinfoil hats — at least on the Republican/Tea Party side — is to be noted as Texas finishes counting votes from the nation’s first primary on March 3.

Such temptations as arose among Republicans — chiefly to endorse Congressman Steve Stockman’s bid to knock off John Cornyn, the U.S. Senate’s No. 2 Republican — were easily squelched. Cornyn won hands down. So did Attorney General Greg Abbott in the contest to succeed Rick Perry as governor. Abbott triumphed over a field of non-entities, one of whom had tantalizingly changed his Christian name to “Secede.” Abbott this November will wallop — in gentlemanly fashion — the celebrated Wendy Davis, in whom Democrats at both the state and local levels have reposed touching hopes for rebuilding Democratic eminence in Texas. (No Democrat has won statewide office in Texas since 1994, and Republicans control the Legislature.)

Campaign Crawlers

Texas’ Tuesday Primary Primer

By 3.3.14

To judge from the New York Times — which, by the way, no rational human should ever do — the Texas primary on Tuesday is all about who occupies the absolutely, genuinely, no-kiddin’ geographically farthest right position on the ideological spectrum, where none thrive save those who oppose regulation of firearms that could be used to wing an abortionist.

Nah. Nothing that exciting or even plausible. The Texas Republican primary field, the one that counts, emits its share of noise, but rumors of an imminent Tea Party, or Tea Party-affiliated, takeover of the state are a little bit over the top: chiefly on account of Ted Cruz, I infer. Our junior senator and his capers in the capital city inspire many to suppose that Texas conservatives regard moderates as the political equivalent of Santa Anna’s lancers.

The Republican primary campaign has been a grapple-fest due mostly to Barack Obama. The animating idea among various Republican candidates is to suggest a unique personal capacity to grab Obama by the ears and make him holler “Uncle.” What we want around here is enthusiasm — got that?

Campaign Crawlers

Message Bottled Up

By 2.28.14

Voters in the 13th Congressional District of Florida (South St. Petersburg north to Dunedin) who would like to learn what the candidates wishing to represent them in the U.S. House are all about will get little help from the avalanche of television ads on the race. The febrile ads mostly call the opponent of their candidate a knave and an incompetent.

Even compared to the average campaign, the ads in this one go to exceptional lengths to not talk about what the candidates would do if elected. They mostly shout about how ill suited the other guy, or gal, is for the job. The local media are happy enough to play along with the gag, building their stories around the charges.

Campaign Crawlers

Is Mark Pryor Toast?

By 2.20.14

There was a time when Mark Pryor was seen as inevitable in Arkansas politics. Pryor, after all, is the son of David Pryor, former senator and governor and all-around political legend in the Natural State, second only to fellow Democrat Bill Clinton in recent lore. The younger Pryor’s rise from private attorney to the state legislature to attorney general to the U.S. Senate from 1991 to 2002 was one of the most rapid in America.

In fact, Pryor didn’t even have a Republican opponent when he came up for re-election in 2008; he pulled an astounding 80 percent of the vote against a little-known candidate from the Green Party that year.

But the purple Arkansas, which elected and re-elected Pryor to the Senate, is rapidly reddening, and with the fading of the state’s Democrats, Pryor’s chances for a third term are waning. This fall he’ll have a Republican challenger, and quite possibly an unwinnable race in front of him.

And worst of all, Pryor has an apparently unpardonable sin on his voting record — namely, that his was the deciding “yea” in favor of Obamacare.

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.

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. 

Campaign Crawlers

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. 

Campaign Crawlers

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.”