Sunday, February 17, 2008

Convention notes (and US Senate 08)

State convention was last weekend. There wasn't a lot of major controversy going on there. The RNC committeeman and committeewoman positions were uncontested in the end. Keith Butler replaces longtime committeeman Chuck Yob and Holly Hughes was returned for a second term.

While McCain is the most likely nominee (almost mathematical winner), there were still a number of Huckabee and Ron Paul backers there. With Romney winning Michigan, his delegates are now uncommitted. I assume that most of them will go for McCain unless there's a shocking surprise. Huckabee's wife represented his campaign. I'm not really sure why she was up here after the primary, but it made things interesting.

The big news however was with the US Senate race against the Peter Principle in action - Carl Lenin, I mean Levin. Jack Hoogendyk is in, as most of us suspected. Rocky Raczkowski is not running. Rocky's part of the Army Reserves and was called back up to service. I wish Rocky a safe trip, and good health.

In order to defeat Levin, Hoogendyk needs to avoid the trap of what I call the generic campaign. By generic campaign I mean one full of talking points, fluff, little substance and a recluctance to say what is necessary due to being afraid of pissing the pundits and consultants off (and this is coming from a consultant, although I am capable there, my speciality isn't strategy). The generic campaign in its simplistic form is "vote for me and I'll follow or stop the president/governor's agenda." It drives me up a wall, but I'm biased and don't have a lot of respect for yesmen.

The only time the generic campaign works to perfection is when the candidate at the top of the ticket will win by a very large margin and bring in coattails - which doesn't often happen in Michigan, and hasn't happened in a presidential race since I can't remember. Coattails almost happened at the senate spot in 84 with Jack Lousma, but he lost at the last minute to Levin for driving a foreign car. An arguement COULD be made for coattails in the Stabenow/Abraham race in 2000, but I think that was more due to the campaigns than a coattail effect for Gore who won by 5%. 94 and 06 had some reverse coattail effects with state house flips, but even there, there was only 1 US House Seat flip in a seat around 51-52% democrat (the old 8th in 94). In 06, the state senate actually stayed GOP, despite the districts more favorable to the democrats than the state house, which went dem. In short, don't base your campaign solely on the top of the ticket. There's a few recent campaigns that I'd consider the "generic campaign" in this state, and they were almost all disasters in a statewide setting.

The good news for us is that Jack Hoogendyk (who runs the Core principles blog) is certainly not a yesman, and I doubt he's going to run a generic campaign. In order to beat a strong candidate like Levin, to win like in 94, it is going to take more than the same old song and dance. First it will take a middle finger to the pundits who surrender the seat without trying. Believe it or not, I respect Howard Dean. YEARGHHHHHHHHHHH aside, that 50 state strategy is a damn good idea. You don't win if you don't show up. Dennis Kucinich's seat in Cleveland used to be held by a republican - in the 1990's during the Clinton admin. Dan Rostenkowski lost his seat to a Republican in 1994. It was a big year for the GOP, but that seat was in the city of Chicago and over 65% democrat. Chris Carney's seat in Pennsylvania is 60% GOP and he beat Don Sherwood there. All of the underdogs there showed up and took advantage of the openings given to them. Rostenkowsky and Sherwood were pieces of trash, but usually the partisanship in those districts win out (examples - Jim Moran and Ted Kennedy). I believe the democrats in the Kucinich district were split on ideological issues, but I'm not real familiar on that district outside of it being West Cleveland.

Showing up is step one. Step two is giving people a reason to vote for a less familiar name. Longtime incumbents like Levin, Sherwood, and Rostenkowski take their area for granted. They also have insanely long records. While Sherwood and Rosty's problems wern't due to their votes but to being jerks as people, Levin's voting record is way out of the Michigan mainstream. Steps three and four are the hardest part - a quality grass roots campaign based on ideas. Step four is money. Money is overrated, but still very important. Step three is the big key as it can bring step four and go full circle. Can Jack get those done? We'll see, and I hope that is the case. I think he is one of the few candidates with a chance to beat Levin, much more than some generic pol with the same last name of another politician or some of the other half-baked things I hear from the punditry.

This is going to be an ideas campaign. With the economy in the toilet here, Michigan is ripe for one. Levin's had 30 years in office, and frankly hasn't done jack-squat in his entire time there. Time for new blood. Time for new ideas. Time to replace Levin with Jack Hoogendyk.

3 comments: said...

Here here. The energy around Jack all weekend was crazy. LOVED it.

Now, no rose colored glasses here... and I don't think Jack's wearing any either... it's going to be one heck of an uphill climb. But this weekend was a perfect way to start. Doesn't get much better.


Unknown said...

Levin is deeply intrenched and nobody thinks he can be beaten, and certainly the odds are heavily in his favor.

This gives Jack an opportunity to run a campaign based on ideas, rather than having to follow the carefully crafted script usually handed out by political advisors.

The odds are against Jack, but this campaign will give him state wide name recognition, and if he does a credible job he will be in a good position to run for a state wide office in 2 years.

cfausk07 said...

Jack has a more than a fighting chance to beat Carl Levin. We need to rally the troops to his cause. Jack will need the help of conservative bloggers. Please post a comment with your contact information on