"Ya Gotta Know When to Fold 'Em" - An Open Letter to Jason Allen

Dear Jason,

It’s often been said (at least in Texas where I grew up) that anything and everything you needed to know about life could be found in the lyrics of Country music. Now, like most sayings, it’s not true all the time, but that doesn’t mean there’s not at least a kernel or two of truth to it.

Been thinking a lot about one of my favorite Country tunes ever since you and Dr. Dan Benishek fought to almost a draw in your primary race. If my information is correct, Dr. Dan held a 1-vote lead over you on Election Night. Now, with the canvass of all the counties complete, that lead has “stretched” to 15 votes.

That means that Dr. Benishek continues to cling to the narrowest of margins, and you are looking at another old saying: “So close, and yet so far.” And now you have a major, strategic decision to make. Do you accept the canvassed results which leaves the apple just out of your reach? Or, with victory so close you can probably taste it, do you demand a recount?

Well, here’s where my Country music analogy kicks in. It’s one of Kenny Roger’s all-time classics, from the Gambler, and it’s refrain goes: “Ya got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em; know when to walk away, know when to run.” And that, in a nutshell, Jason, is the decision you have: do ya hold ’em (and demand a recount), or do ya fold ’em and walk away?

Now the temptation to do the former will be tremendous. The pressure from family, staff, sycophants, and your own innate ego will be to go for the brass ring ’cause it’s oh so tantalizingly close. But in the best interest of our country, the best interest of the MI-1 Congressional District, the best interest of the Republican Party, and, yes, even your own best interest, I’m asking you to fold ’em.

I’m asking you to step back and look at the big picture. See, there’s no guarantee that a recount will find you those 15 votes. And, in the meantime, while you and Dr. Dan are slugging it out and sucking through time and resources, Democrat nominee Gary McDowell will be focused laser-like on the November election. That’s time and money we simply don’t have.

But let’s say that your Hail Mary and the $100,000 you’ll need to spend to pull out a recount victory actually pays off. Where’s that leave you in November?

Well, the harsh truth is that, to the best of my knowledge, no Troll (person living below, or south of, the Mackinac Bridge) has ever represented this District. Why? Well, it seems that Yoopers (those living in the Upper Peninsula) aren’t overly fond of Trolls and don’t/won’t vote for them. On the other hand, Trolls don’t seem to have a big problem with voting for Yoopers.

Now, I don’t know why this is, and I’m not sure that it’s necessarily “fair” or right; but it is what it is and with Yoopers making up 45% of the electorate of this District, and with you being a Troll and Dr. Benishek being a Yooper and all that…well, that’s a pretty sizable voting block that Dr. Dan will be able to make a play for that will not be as available to you.

Strike One.

Second, I don’t know if you realize this or not, but your campaign tactics (insert non-family friendly epitah here) off a lot of conservative activists in the District and around the country. Activists that you will need to provide money and shoe leather to pull this off, especially considering the whole Yooper/Troll thing.

Now, the whole SEIU $2,000 campaign contribution/unionization bill 2 weeks later doesn’t help, but what really chapped the drawers of the Right was your unconscionable mail drop in the last few days of the campaign which, well, flat-out misrepresented Dr. Benishek’s position on his desire to reduce taxes through the Fair Tax. You told voters that he was in favor of raising taxes 23% on a whole host of items that people don’t pay taxes on already. Aside from the fact that folks already do pay taxes in some form on the items you mentioned, you left the impression that his desire was to add taxes on top of the taxes they’re already paying.

Now, if you want to debate the merits and demerits of a Fair Tax honestly and openly, more power to ya. Personally, I’m not a big fan of The Fair Tax for a variety of reasons, but I know enough about it to know that those who do advocate for it are, with few exceptions, in favor of it as a way to reduce the overall level of taxation. Either you also know this and consciously chose to distort (also called lying about) what Dr. Benishek is proposing, or you don’t have even the most rudimentary understanding of the Fair Tax in which case you are unfit to debate and vote on the economic direction of our nation.

Suffice it to say that that little campaign tactic pretty much cut off any hopes you have of unifying the base. All those folks who supply the money and shoe leather to help Republicans win elections? Yeah, they’re the one’s you royally hacked off. 

Strike Two.

And finally, all that union help that you received from your ‘friends’ in the SEIU and the other Michigan unions? You know, the ones that helped out in your campaign and who crossed over to vote for you because there wasn’t a contested primary on the Democrat side? You don’t really think that they’re going to be there for you in November, do you? Your chance of getting union help and endorsements over Gary McDowell this November is somewhat on the same line as the Lions getting to the Super Bowl next February.

Strike Three.

So, Jason, what you’re looking at is a situation where even if you manage to pull off the recount victory, your odds of actually pulling off a victory this November are somewhat akin to having to draw to an inside straight when all you’ve got are the 3 and the 7.

On the other hand, you can do what Karen Handel did earlier this week in the Georgia governor’s race. She conceded the election to Nathan Deal (after what could only charitably be called a nasty primary) even though there were still uncounted absentee ballots from a county very friendly to her, and even though she was well within her rights to ask for one. She did so for the good of her party, and for the good of our country.

Jason, I’m asking you publicly to do the same thing. For the good of your country, for the good your Party, and for your own future personal political aspirations (I’m here to tell you that not asking for a recount will go light years toward repairing your fractured relationship with the Republican Base; we’re a loyal and forgiving lot), do the right thing…do the smart thing…

…fold ’em…and walk away.