Beating Dead Horses

Pat Ryan

So back during the campaign, TA put up a post about the HD 49 race out in East County. Apparently some of Matt Wand's Libertarian Strike Force had done a little judicious lying about their opponent Nick Kahl and TA called 'em out. Carla followed up a couple of days later clarifying the specifics and I'm thinking, "Hey, here's some good solid dirt that we can use to paint our guy as the victim."

I mean we spent years out here in HD-52 hearing one single consistent message about why they supported our Republican rep Patti Smith, "She's a nice lady." Anything said by an opponent against her would cause an outcry of unfair persecution people would rally to support her.

"Well", I say to myself, "Our own Nick Kahl Might benefit from a little righteous indignation. Might even get him a point or two in the polls." But it was not to be, as our very own Hard Bright Boyz and Gurlz had their own little ambush set, unbeknownst to we mere mortals.

See, there were vast amounts of cash and truckloads of wild eyed libertarian consultants sent down to local races all over the US. One of the big players is Americans for Prosperity, which was created by the billionaire Koch brothers to spread the the old Free Market gospel. Just last week Jeff Kropf chair of the Oregon group was bragging about how his group's "boots on the ground" were decisive in winning the race. One of their central tax policy positions is to put what they call a 23% consumption tax (actually around 30% when you do the math right) tax out there to replace all other forms of taxation. Guys like Chuck Sheketoff can explain why it's a crazy idea, but the main thing for our story is that even though Matt Wand is not a member of AFP, and he is nowhere on the record as having supported this tax, our guys decided that this was a good place to attack.

A lot of Mult Dem groundtroops were pretty pissed when the mailers started going out and a few of us in Clackamas County received some of that good lovin' too. So, you guessed it, the victimhood that I hoped would accrue to Kahl wound up with Wand. The Outlook ran multiple play by plays under the wise tutelage of Mr. Garber, no doubt, and soon enough even the Oregonian was in on the act.

I'll assert, without a shred of evidence, that even in this really bad year, we had a chance to get Cheryl Myers or Nick Kahl into the lege, and this move could have been what blew it for us.

Comments

    • (Show?)

      Who controls FuturePac now?

      • (Show?)

        George Soros I believe. After all, he is the root of all liberal evil it seems. ;)

        • (Show?)

          I used to work for the Open Society Institute in NY, and even had to hand deliver a sandwich to Papa George (my nickname for him) once. Who knew then that I was in the presence of evil?

          • (Show?)

            What is the basis for this overarching antipathy for George Soros? I remember Mike Malloy used to lambast wealthy progressives who refused to contribute financially to Air America, which he felt that network never really got off the ground. But is there something more sinister I'm missing?

  • (Show?)

    Negative campaigns, particularly if undertaken by Democrats, are held to a higher standard of truth than positive ones.

  • (Show?)

    Future PAC lost every one of its targeted races. Their polling was way off in the race I followed. In retrospect going negative was the wrong tactic. A "gut check" on thier political advisors is in order.

    • (Show?)

      As a resident of Lane County, I was pleased to see us pull out two targeted races: Arnie Roblan and Val Hoyle. Democrats obviously lost a number of races, but I believe they won 5 of the 9 closest. I agree that negative campaigning was not used correctly in every situation, but I don't think it was the sole cause of the losses. With many state legislatures across the country losing Democratic control, I'm happy we did not lose either chamber.

  • (Show?)

    I know people certainly noticed the mailers, and I didn't hear anyone that believed them. I think a lot of people (even myself) get frustrated and lament that voters are morons sometimes, but woe to the party that actually starts to believe it.

    On a broader level, I don't think we, as politically active Americans, consider enough the effect of all of this negative campaigning. Imagine if three months out of every couple years McDonald's filled the airwaves with attacks on Burger King's employees as monsters, cheats and liars, and Burger King rejoined with the same kinds of attacks on McDonald's fry-cooks and burger flippers. Millions and millions of dollars later do you think the same number of people would be going to fast food joints? Of course not. We damage our "industry" in exactly this way, and face it, no one wants to buy our hamburgers anymore. It's okay for Republicans to do it, they hate the idea of Americans working together to achieve things through their government, but for our candidates to do it is the very definition of putting personal gain above the party's and the country's gain.

    Perhaps it's necessary to win (but I doubt it), but I wish we could come together and create some mechanism on the left to repair the damage we cause each cycle. Imagine if there was a fund that offset each negative ad we run during the campaign season making government and the people that run it look like monsters, with an ad that explains what the government is doing for people, and how it's making lives better every day. We do it for the Lottery, and it doesn't suffer a multi-million dollar smear campaign every couple of years.

    • (Show?)

      One contrarian point Brian. If your opponent's hobby is kicking cute puppies, and is on the record verbally or visually as a puppy kicker, He should be attacked as a puppy kicker.

      If, on the other hand, your opponent hangs out with known puppy kickers down at the puppy kickers bar and grill, but no one has actually seen him kick a puppy or tell anyone that he has, best hold fire.

  • (Show?)

    I must also mention that I am extremely uncomfortable to have to be in a position to decry the actions of an organization that is on our side of the aisle, so to speak. Generally, most issues of a campaign strategy & judgment merit an in-house review and go no further.

    But as soon as the efforts of good people and other good organizations are questioned publicly, (and yes, I am speaking loudly and proudly of the dedicated bunch of folks who make up the Multnomah Democratic Party), I must defend my own publicly.

    • (Show?)

      Heat and light Carla. I love 'em and support 'em too, but unless we air this one out, we're likely to get no more than the patronizing smile, always at the ready for the benighted volunteers and donors.

  • (Show?)

    I thought it was rather telling what people thought of these ads when Win McCormick donated $2500 dollars to Shawn Lindsey (R) towards the end of the campaign.

    In HD 37 where there was like a 400 vote difference you have to wonder how many of those 400 voters were annoyed Dems and NAV voters who were turned off by the ads and mailers.

    There is for sure lessons to be learned here.

    • (Show?)

      Yeah, in that one, Lindsey's opponent Ainge was actually on the record in '03 supporting the idea of a sales tax as a component of a general tax overhaul. Lindsey was not. So Ainge was particularly ill suited to push the meme.

connect with blueoregon