(This is the second of a three-part series about a 2010 campaign in Massachusetts.)
I have been working with Mike Case, who is running for state representative as a Republican in the Massachusetts 2nd district. He is a veteran of Vietnam, Bosnia and Iraq and is a retired police officer. He has a masters degree in public administration and worked on Capitol Hill in Washington as an intern for two years in the 1970s.
Mike is a smart guy. Back then, he was the young congressional intern who wrote the first analysis and recommendation for the New England Congressional Caucus about the wisdom of acquiring from Britain as a military base the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Today, Diego Garcia is one of the most strategic American bases in the world.
Mike won the September 14 primary with 78% of the vote against a shell candidate who is not even really a committed Republican – she was alleged to have been registered as an independent for years – but who was put up to the campaign by a group of local feminists seeking to stop Mike on behalf of the Democrats. The reason she was put up is that Mike is seen as a strong candidate, even here in this very liberal state.
Our district is large, mostly rural and is shaped like a dragon. It covers 22 towns and is 50 miles end to end. We have been traveling regularly across the district to get support for Mike who now will face a union-baked candidate in the general election.
The Democrat primary had three players including a businessman from Dalton, the biggest town in the district and the home of Crane Paper, the sole maker of the paper for the nation’s currency.
Tom Szczepaniak was considered a strong Democrat candidate. He had a successful hauling business, was a Dalton selectman, and had committed $20,000 of his own money to his campaign. Problem is that he had a long criminal past which was revealed in the media. He had once served 18 months in jail for cocaine dealing which the local lefty newspaper practically called him a hero for.
A lot of people stood behind Szczepaniak – I called him SzczManiac or Schizephreniac or Szczpainintheneck – even though he has been controversial in other ways. Local folks came into Mike’s campaign office with their own personal horror stories about the guy. He had made many friends as selectman and businessman, but many enemies too. He often used questionable business tactics. He once was involved in a televised brawl during a town meeting.
Szczepaniak had his campaign signs everywhere in several towns. Everywhere! He coerced and intimidated people by repeatedly putting his campaign signs on their lawns when they did not ask for them. He posted his signs on public property and in front of vacant homes, tore up opponents’ signs (including ours) and even got in an argument with a poll worker in Hinsdale on primary day which required police intervention.
SzczManiac lost the primary. And hundreds of people are smiling about that including me and Mike Case.
The Democrat turnout for the primary was in some towns four to five times the Republican turnout which looks tough for Mike in the general election. But first, there was an important sheriff’s race in the Dem primary – with no Republican running – so many independents too the Dem ballot. And the mood of Massachusetts is sour this year, with corruption, high taxes and job losses paramount in a state run lock, stock and barrel by Democrats. Reform-minded Republican Charlie Baker is expected to have a good shot at unseating Massachusetts’ Democrat governor Deval Patrick. If Baker wins and the national GOP wins big, we expect that there will be a trickle-down to guys like Mike Case.
Mike and I have been to small-town barbecues, fairs, dinners and meet-and-greets, and done ‘stand outs’ with campaign signs on street corners. I have a totem pole of signs for Mike that is 13 feet tall. Mike has very distinctive round red, white and blue campaign signs that says “I Like Mike”. Stacked up, it is very noticeable and many people talk about it. “Who’s the guy with the tall sign?” they ask him. The pole stands on the ground and I rock it back and forth very slowly to draw attention and to hypnotize motorists into voting for Mike. Hey, it worked in the primary!
Mike is a very personable Irishman who has an easy style and loves to talk. We had a booth at the Cummington Fair and we marched in the Greenfield Fair parade. Mike has his campaign office in a visible spot right in the middle of the district on a main road. All this adds up.
Mike is confident about the general election. His opponent is a 30-year old law-school graduate who is a union activist. He works for Verizon and has a very angry, anti-business tone in debates, which Mike wants to use against him. The anti-business climate in Massachusetts has been palpable for many years and the people are finally waking up to it as the economy contracts. Mike plans to campaign as a pro-business candidate and to paint his opponent as someone who will do one thing on every legislative vote – call the union bosses to get their instructions.
From his years as a police officer, Mike has many friends. Many of the cops around here, who are mostly Democrats, plan to vote for him. And veterans too. When ‘standing out’ with Mike, he gets constant waves and cheers from passing cars. He is a popular guy.
Mike’s son Army Captain Ryan Case has served in Iraq and Afghanistan and has earned two bronze stars. We welcomed him “home” in Massachusetts on September 17, although he now lives in Washington state.
Mike Case is the real deal. He is not one of those slick politicians with a silver tongue like Obama, but an honest, hard-working and patriotic citizen who will do his best for his district. He even has discovered that there are no military veterans in the Massachusetts House. What a travesty.
We are confident of victory in November. Mike’s website is www.electmikecase.com
Please visit my website at www.nikitas3.com for more. You can print out for free my book, Right Is Right, which explains why only conservatism can maintain our freedom and prosperity.