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Currently Browsing: 2014 Election

To Win, You First Need Good Candidates

This is a great WaPo article detailing how the GOP came back for the 2014 elections. I think it also hits on an important concept, which I believe is lost on the Tea Party, and probably the cause of a lot of friction between it and the GOP establishment. The Tea Party is big on finding the “true conservative,” and not focused nearly enough on finding good candidates. The article talks about the candidacy of Joni Ernst in Iowa:

Republicans worked to polish Ernst’s presentation and policy platform. “She is naturally disciplined, and I assume that has a lot to do with her military training and her farm-girl roots,” said David Kochel, an Ernst adviser.

Meanwhile, the Braley campaign had problems. With each of his missteps — a gaffe about towel service at the House gym, hostile questioning of witnesses in committee hearings and a local fracas over a neighbor’s roaming chickens — Braley caused heartburn in Washington.

When the chicken incident became public, Reid called and said, “Bruce, look, you just have to be smarter than this — or you’re going to lose,” according to Krone. Schumer, the party’s message maven, called Braley repeatedly to help him become more disciplined.

“Braley listens for a minute and then sort of just continues back on his merry way,” said a senior Democratic official. “He’s not a good politician, which may seem like a compliment but it’s not. . . . He comes across as arrogant, and I think it’s because he is.”

If you want true conservatives to win, they must first be good candidates, meaning they have to be good politicians. What are the qualities of a good candidate?

  • They can fundraise and run a campaign. If they can’t do this, they can’t win. A lot of people in Pennsylvania were really enamored with Sam Rohrer for a while, but he couldn’t fundraise or campaign, and so he never went anywhere as a state level candidate.
  • They have to be disciplined. They need to stay on message, and avoid saying stupid things. In the example given of Chris McDaniel in Mississippi, he was formerly a conservative talk radio host. No one who has that much of a paper trail, on transcript trail in his case, makes a good candidate. They’ve said too much over the years, and some of it is going to be stupid. Some of it will be stupid taken out of context, which the opposition is sure to do. This is where Todd Akin fell over.
  • They have to be personally likable. They have to come across to low information voters as good people, who care about them, and reflect their values. Standing up for “true conservative” values is fine and well, but if they can’t do it in a way that still maintains likability, they will tank. LIVs aren’t ideological, and there are a lot of higher information voters who aren’t particularly ideological. They want candidates who appear to care about them, and others. If you can’t frame your ideology in a manner that connects it back to voters, you don’t have a chance. This is why Libertarians have never gotten anywhere.
  • They have to be good at retail politics. If they are no good on the stump, in debates, at dealing with people one-on-one, or aren’t willing to campaign hard to achieve victory, their campaign could easily end up hopeless. Modern GOTV efforts require candidates that are well-versed, or at least knowledgeable enough to hire people well-versed in technology. Why did Scott Brown do so well as a carpetbagger candidate in New Hampshire? Because he’s very good on this factor.

These factors matter a lot more than ideology. In politics, these factors are the horse. Ideology is the cart. The Tea Party doesn’t seem to understand that. The establishment does, and that’s a big reason the establishment did well in this election. I share people’s loathing of the GOP establishment, but if the Tea Party doesn’t learn not to put the cart before the horse, they’ll continue to struggle and be disillusioned.

Elections 2014: How Did We Fare?

For me the big prize was Hickenlooper, and that race is still too close to call. Same with Malloy in Connecticut. I’m pessimistic, because close races almost always resolve in favor of the Democrat. Still, I’ll take giving them a close shave. Malloy especially, is a deep blue state incumbent Governor. That race should have been a cakewalk for him and it wasn’t. Hickenlooper also should have sailed to re-election. Things are still close in the Colorado Senate race. We won in Maryland, which was an open seat. That was surprising. Cuomo handily won re-election, but that was not a surprise.

We did not do well on the Background Check initiative in Washington. It passed about 60/40. The competing 591 got voted down outright. Billionaire assholes can buy elections folks. That result means they will try that again elsewhere where they have the ballot as a weapon. Oregon gun owners: I’d be getting nervous.

All in all, I don’t think it was a bad night for gun owners, but it was not as good as it could have been, when compared to how the GOP did as a whole. The GOP would do well not to take this election as a mandate. This was a vote repudiating Obama, not a vote for the GOP. They just happened to be lucky enough to be the not Obama.

Good News for PA Voters

This is just a reminder that if Tom Wolf wins, as expected, it is now legal to drink your sorrows away at the local bar. However, you may need to stay closer to sober in order to save your bucks to pay those higher taxes he’s promising everyone.

Regardless of the sorrows you may need to drown, the linked story is an interesting history on liquor sales in Pennsylvania on Election Day. They also note that South Carolina was the last state to legalize the sale of alcohol on Election Day while Alaska and Massachusetts still allow local towns to enact bans.

I think it’s also funny that they feel the need to remind people that you can’t trade liquor for votes. The story also notes that as recently as last year, there have been problems with this with an Arkansas lawmaker who traded vodka and chicken dinners for votes.

A Democratic congressional candidate out in Western Pennsylvania posted photos of herself and volunteers with candy that they were giving out to their voters today. I wonder if there’s a law on that?

Off I Go to Hold My Nose

I’ve been happy with Corbett on the gun issue. If you look at his record, it’s about the only constituency he managed to please. On every other issue, I’m disappointed. He hasn’t really done anything to fix the state’s long term financial problems. The People of Wisconsin will be happy that Scott Walker made some hard decisions now. Even New Jersey is probably marginally better off for having Chris Christie. But Pennsylvania is probably doomed to a serious pension crisis in the not so distant future. Because of the intransigence of the Senate GOP leadership, we couldn’t even get liquor privatization done. But I will hold my nose and cast the vote for Corbett, pretty much solely on the gun issue. He signed enhanced castle doctrine and signed enhanced preemption. He came out after Sandy Hook and put the kibosh on gun control in Pennsylvania, which enabled us to focus federally. Every one of our neighboring states except Ohio and West Virginia suffered attacks and setbacks at the state level, and it was West Virginia’s senator trying to screw us federally. As Republicans go in this state, Corbett has been pretty good on guns. I can’t imagine Tom Ridge holding so firm after something like Sandy Hook.

I’m also very concerned Tom Wolf will be the Jerry Brown of Pennsylvania. At some point, fellow citizens, we need to stick it to the GOP leadership in this state. Pennsylvania has a moderate political tradition of centrist Democrats (except in the cities) and squishy Republicans, so it’s going to be a long road. Wolf wants to fix the state’s finances with more taxes, notably a progressive tax (which is unconstitutional, PA mandates a flat income tax). As a commenter mentioned earlier this morning, this place is going to start looking an awful lot like New York if the state GOP doesn’t start standing for something other than its own power and self-interest. If Wolf wins, the best case scenario is total gridlock, and all that while the clock will be ticking on the state’s pension problems.

In local races, my State Representative, Frank Farry, has been pretty solid on Second Amendment issues, so he gets my vote without question. Robert “Tommy” Tomlinson, my State Senator, went without an endorsement for a while because he tried to screw us on Florida reciprocity. This year he’s got an endorsement again, because he voted with us on Castle Doctrine and enhanced preemption. I’ll vote for him, since his Democratic challenger, Kim Rose, didn’t even see fit to return a questionnaire.

I’m still deciding whether or not I’m going to hold my nose for Mike Fitzpatrick. He took an endorsement from Bloomberg’s outfit, and was one of the few Republicans to support the house equivalent of Manchin-Toomey. If I do, this will be the last year. If Fitzpatrick doesn’t step down in 2016, like he’s promised to do, and fails to draw a successful primary challenger, I’m done with voting for Fitzpatrick as long as he’s going to suck up to guys like Bloomberg. If I do end up pushing the button for Fitz, it’s not really for him so much as to keep the seat in GOP hands in the hopes he steps down like he promised, or draws a reasonable primary challenger. If that seat flips to the Dems, it’s going to be a hell of a lot harder to get it back, which would suck if the GOP actually managed to find an acceptable candidate for 2016.

Tomorrow is the Day

This is an unusually good piece with Wayne LaPierre. He often comes across as kind of wooden and teleprompted. But this is pretty good:

And I can’t argue with the message. This election is the first major election where we get to express our disapproval of the politicians who sided with Bloomberg and conspired to punish us for the actions of a madman in Newtown, CT. There’s a good chance we can get both Hickenlooper and Malloy tomorrow, but that isn’t going to happen unless we vote.

Candidate X or candidate Y may not be ideal, but punishment first. We’ll deal with the new boss’s issues in time.

Washington Ballot Initiative Fight Phone Banks

The Brady Campaign has started a system of organizing phone banks from across the country to get people out to vote in the Washington ballot initiative fight.

BradyPhoneBank

This is the kind of election work that so very few of our people are willing to do. It is unfortunate because, as annoying as those phone calls can be, the personal calls are among the best way to encourage someone to get out to vote and to find out if someone already has voted or plans to vote.*

This is the period before an election where the grassroots becomes vital. If you’re a Washington gun owner and you want to stand any chance of beating the cash Bloomberg, Gates, and Ballmer are throwing obscene amounts of money at this gun control initiative, you have to be working hard to inspire other gun owners to show up and vote your way.

In 1976, Massachusetts gun owners defeated a ballot initiative through tough grassroots work. Gun owners bothered to show up (about 18,000 of them) to county-wide meetings. Of those, about 2,000 became active volunteers. They spent Election Day standing outside of polls with literature and signs. They spoke out in their communities. These last few days are the days to pull votes away with a campaign to inform the people who only pay attention to the ballot in the last couple of weeks.

I know when I posted about this type of grassroots work before, people complained that they weren’t involved because they didn’t see anything personally. Well, go look for it. NRA’s involvement (and I know there’s more on the ground, too) has been highlighted on a Facebook page with local events and they put 2 full-time staffers on the ground who have been listed on their elections-related page for months. This is on top of the volunteer network that has already been in place there. The resources are there, now it’s time for local gun owners to use them if they want to stand any chance at all.

*Here’s a tip: Let a live caller know that you’ve a) already made up your mind for issues or a candidate, or b) already voted (if early voting is allowed), and you’ll end up dropped from most future call lists for that election. Phone calls are pretty much only get out the vote or know who plans to get out and vote activities. Letting either candidate know you’ve made up your mind or already cast a ballot means they don’t want to waste time on you anymore.

Attacking I-594: WA State’s Phony “Background Check” Initiative

There’s a long way to go, but I-594, the Washington State initiative than would ban private transfers, even handing a gun to someone else on a private range, for instance, to teach them to shoot, is losing public support. These next few weeks will be critical for reaching low information voters. Without reaching those people, we don’t stand of a chance of winning. Both sides will be vying for their votes. Hopefully this ad will help:

I used to hate class warfare until certain classes started to think they were entitled to rule. I think the jab at Seattle billionaires who are backing this measure will resonate.

Boosting Pro-2A Candidates without Mentioning Guns

This weekend, I was tied up helping out a solidly pro-gun candidate here in Pennsylvania. He happens to be an area state representative, and he knows both Sebastian and I are vocal advocates of the Second Amendment. As a Republican with a female challenger and the whole “War on Women” theme that’s used against all GOPers nationally, I lined him up as a speaker at my local women’s group meeting.

He earned several votes there according to what women told me later. He also connected with several women who are active in other groups and want to talk more about the topics he handles. He inspired women who don’t live in his district to want to help him out so he stays in office. He left a mark with a large group of women who vote, who participate in civic life in many areas of the community, and who will help spread the word to other voters about what a great guy he is to have in the office.

Yet, not once did he utter anything about his campaign. Not once did he say anything about guns. Not once did he even get into any form of politics. He earned those votes and positive associations just because he has other areas of expertise in his work with the community that were the highlights of his talk.

So, this is just a handy reminder that sometimes a candidate doesn’t have to walk around screaming “shall not be infringed” at every event. The lawmaker knows who lined up the invitation for him, and he knows the issues I care about that make me want to get his name out there in front of voters. If he had mentioned guns, I would have been mortified because it would have been so out of place in the context and wouldn’t have been the best way for him to take advantage of the type of audience he had in front of him. Not every voter needs to hear the same message that you do, and this was a great chance for me to offer up a resource for a different kind of message to different types of voters.

It’s also a reminder that even if you’re not the kind to go knock on doors and make phone calls, there are other ways you can boost a candidate’s name recognition. Are you a member of any kind of community group that has a need for speakers? Do you go to church and have groups there that do any kind of community service that could use a boost?

Look up the kinds of committees your lawmakers serve on or get a list of the types of community groups a candidate has served with to get an idea of their “expertise” topics that aren’t just guns. If you can’t find a common thread, then think any group you’re part of that might warrant some kind of proclamation that the lawmaker can secure and read/publicize that announcement. See how you can help them out in these more creative ways.

Pennsylvania Preemption & Pigeons

I like alliteration, and it seems that the Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee might, too. Word has been spreading that the Committee might actually meet to move a pro-gun bill today. Of course, it comes with a word of warning that they might try to move the pigeon shooting ban out, too.

The Senate GOP has been the blockade to pretty much everything in Pennsylvania the last few years. On the Chair of the Judiciary Committee, Stewart Greenleaf, has an ever worsening NRA grade as he constantly blocks pro-gun bills with opening doors to poison pill amendments. If you believe in free market wine, you can thank Chuck McIlhinney for blocking privatization.

I’ll be honest, even with an election year, I didn’t think that preemption had any chance to move at all in the Senate given how much they have gotten in the way of other reforms on our issue and others in the last couple of years. This is great news, and I’ll be calling my non-Judiciary Committee senator to let him know that if he wants my help this year, there better be a vote. I know my senator needs visible support from women based on the ads he’s running. I’m going to let him know that I’m happy to help, but only if there’s a vote and he votes for stronger preemption. Play the cards you’ve got – and helping a campaign is something everyone can do.

Tracking the Judicial Nominees

John Richardson has a great post outlining his research on a North Carolina judicial candidate whose name sounded a little familiar. It turns out that it’s because of his anti-gun statements in legal proceedings during his previous jobs.

Being an informed voter is vital to protecting your rights. For a quick guide, NRA has already released at least some of their grades for this year.

In Pennsylvania, we’re still waiting on some votes to take place on preemption (though it did just pass the House for the last time today, now it goes to the Senate), so we only have Congressional grades at this point.

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