Now that the elections are over, what are the lessons to be learned from these campaigns. I have come up with a few.
1. The [mc_name name=’Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B001259′ ] Effect: There are a couple of lessons to be learned from the case of Iowa. First, if you are going to sit on a congressional committee because you feel strongly about an issue, then you should have a record of attending committee hearings. Second, never attack the occupation of an opponent or potential fellow Senator from your state who hails from a occupation that state is known for. You do not suggest, for example, that a farmer from Iowa is disqualified from being the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Lawyers in Texas can contribute to your campaign, but they can’t vote in Iowa. And if the First Lady is going to campaign for you, they should- at a minimum- know your name.
2. The Cantor Conundrum: Never take anything in politics for granted. Because you are the second in command in the House is no guarantee you will win an election…or even a primary. [mc_name name=’Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’C001046′ ] came off as more concerned about his leadership position in Washington than he did of his constituents. It may not have been true, but the perception was there. The result was a lackadaisical campaign if we can even call the primary a campaign. He also turned his back on his base. Finally, when it became obvious things were turning sour, he ran a series of advertisements that actually gave his opponent- Dave Brat- the most recognition. Dumb…just dumb.
3. The Wendy Davis Debacle: If you are going to be a one trick pony, make sure you have the right pony. Wendy Davis rose on the strength of her filibuster against an abortion law in Texas and she went down on the issue. Because liberal operatives sitting in New York, Connecticut, California and Illinois are egging you on in Texas, one should think and think again. To add insult to injury, she then attacked her opponent’s disability and failed to do damage control. The bigger thing to do would have been to have someone fall on the sword for that advertisement. Instead, she did not disavow it and doubled down by a bizarre news conference surrounded by people in wheelchairs. This may have gotten her some air time on MSNBC, but who watches that station? It should also be stated that if you are going to highlight your life story on the campaign trail, rest assure someone will look into that story so you better have it right. It is, after all, your life.
4. The FitzGerald Fiasco: No matter how little the story, it has the chance to blow up under the microscope of a political campaign. Get caught by police with a woman who is not your wife in a parked car several years previous may have been innocent, but the perception is there and it deserves explanation. You should also explain why you felt compelled to drive around for over a year without a valid driver’s license. If these incidents had a valid explanation, then state them before your opponent or the press demands explanations. What you may think are little things from your past have a tendency to grow much larger in a political campaign.
5. The McDaniel Melee: Even if you are cheated or out-foxed in an election by your opponent, be gracious in your defeat. Don’t prolong the agony. Chris McDaniel was probably the better candidate for the GOP in Mississippi this year. But you lost and you lost under the same rules as [mc_name name=’Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C000567′ ]. Challenging that loss in courts is a losing proposition and you look like a sore loser. You are also threatening your chances of a future in Mississippi politics. Do you think people are going to remember the 2014 primary, or your whining about losing the 2014 primary? Besides- Cochran is so old and senile, you could have been his replacement in less than six years.
6. The Montana Meltdown: Part of this has to do with properly vetting your candidates. [mc_name name=’Sen. John Walsh (D-MT)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’W000818′ ], the original Democratic candidate in Montana for the Senate- a seat held by him- was caught plagiarizing his thesis at the Army War College. It should be noted that this was a 14-page thesis! But, the meltdown did not end there. Although there were more palatable candidates for the Democrats to run in Montana, they chose Amanda Curtis, an obscure state senator before she became the Senate candidate. It was as if they went back in time and chose a Berkley student from 1968. Montana may be a red state, but not the kind of red Curtis represents. It should be also be mentioned as a corollary that one should stay away from social media sites like YouTube if you have any aspirations whatsoever of running for political office.
7. The Roberts Reasoning: If you are going to run for elective office, you need to spend some time in the area you want to represent, or do represent. This was a major issue in the primary that carried through to the general election campaign. When one considers that Roberts has a fairly reliable conservative voting record in the Senate hailing from a conservative state, this single issue dogged him throughout the campaign. And even if you overcome these problems and should pull a victory out of your arse, learn from the issue and spend time in your state.
8. The Grimy Grimes: OK- if you are a Democrat and someone asks you if you voted for the Democrat for President in 2012, it would be understandable if you did. You are, after all, a Democrat. Likewise, if you are a Republican and someone asks if you voted for George Bush, you say “Of course I did.” But when you portray yourself relentlessly as the anti-Obama, I guess you have to invoke the sanctity of the privacy of the voting booth rather than give a straight answer to a simple question. Also, if you are going to talk about your support for a Middle East ally like Israel, you should know that an anti-missile defense system does not protect against tunnels.
9. The Bogus Begich: If you are going to “pull a Willie Horton” on an opponent, make sure you have your facts straight before running them. The resulting dust up from that ill-advised commercial probably cost him the election. And when the family of the victim of an horrendous crime asks you to take down a commercial, the best policy is to honor those requests, not dress up the commercial and remove specific references. At that point, everyone knows who you are talking about. Dropping the actual name is honoring a family’s request.
10. The Pryor Knock on Prior Experience of Opponent. If you are going to attack the prior experience of your opponent, their military experience should be off limits. Saying that one’s military experience, which included combat in Iraq, somehow “entitles” one to “enter the Senate” is even worse. No one really remembers what came after that even if you are truly grateful for your opponent’s service. And it should remembered when your opponent was fighting terrorism in a foreign country, you were home supporting the Obama agenda.