Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Political Party Primaries.....
It's true that the establishment lined up behind Sherrod Brown -- he has spent years building up his networks and has a proven record people can embrace. Hackett didn't.
But this isn't the only race in which outsider candidates are running. In Rhode Island, the establishment has rallied around Sheldon Whitehouse. Yet Matt Brown hasn't bowed to pressures to clear the field. In fact, he's fought harder.
In Montana, the DC establishment has rallied around John Morrison, seen as a "more electable" because he has won statewide twice. Still, Jon Tester is refusing to bow to to any such pressures.
In Connecticut, a sitting US Senator, Joe Lieberman, is facing a primary challenge. The establishment would love nothing more than to direct the type of energy and funds we'll be directing at Ned Lamont and use that against endangered Republicans. But is that stopping Ned Lamont?
And what about primary challengers to annointed nominees Maria Cantwell, Bob Casey, and Harold Ford? They haven't quit. [update: nor has Mfume in Maryland.]
In the Republican side, Katherine Harris gave Karl frickin' Rove the middle finger and cleared out the field herself, despite efforts of both the state and national Republican parties to push her out. In 2004 in Oklahoma, Tom Coburn was the bane of the GOP establishment and they fought him tooth and nail in the primary. He didn't quit, and in fact went on to defeat both the establishment favorite in the primary, as well as the general election.
And do we need to talk about Obama? Barrack terrified establishment Democrats because 1) he was black (which could've been an electoral liability in downstate Illinois), 2) he had no money, and 3) his name was easily confused with some other person's. At one point he had 2% in the polls, yet somehow he managed to turn things around and defeat his cash-flushed opponents. he didn't quit when the odds were stacked up against him.
So it can be done, and it has been done. The party is not all powerful. In fact, it's pretty weak. That's been sort of the problem for a long time.
2.) Primaries are bad
This is something akin to gospel in the Democratic Party and I used to buy it. Until 2004. In that cycle, competitive Republican primaries in Oklahoma, Alaska, South Carolina, and Florida allowed those Republicans to use the momentum boost and media coverage to eventually win their seats. Democrats cleared their primary fields up and down the map for all the good it did (absolutely none).
This obsession with clearing fields really is counterproductive, generating a great deal of hostility and ill-will. And really, what better place to work on message and build the campaign machinery than in a primary? The primary election, at worse, becomes a test run to make sure the machine is firing on all cylinders. And the money used on media and whatnot during a primary is not wasted money -- it's a way to build up early name recognition to the electorate. It worked wonders for Republicans in 2004.
Now, insurgent candidates don't have a god-given right to respect or support. But if they want to run, then the party should stay the frack out of it. There is no legitimate justification for the price the party pays in meddling in such affairs.
I used to believe the 2nd point. I no longer do. I also used to be a member of the democratic party. I no longer am.