I Know No One Wants To Read This Kind Of Stuff... But It's A Lazy Holiday Weekend Sunday
Friday evening, Rachel Maddow ended her MSNBC show moaning and groaning about a personal affront. Her new pal Kellyanne Conway had lied to her face about Roger Ailes being part of the Trump advisory team. I felt her pain. This is a post that's been stuck in my craw for a while-- from even before Kellyanne lied to Rachel's face-- and has been fighting hard to get unstuck and get out, as unseemly as it appears to be. There's no need to divulge any of the character's names; I just want to see if there's a general lesson to be learned that might be useful for someone down the road.
So one of the things Blue America has been doing for just over a decade now is endorsing candidates and helping raise grassroots money for them. When we endorse someone, I contribute from my own account personally and when there are a lot of candidates, it can mean a lot of money in a cycle. But more important than what it costs me is how seriously I take a recommendation that Blue America members contribute their scarce resources to someone. I take it to heart that the someone I'm vouching for better be good. This is the story of candidate X, a woman I've known for a very long time and who is pretty progressive in her heart, maybe not a Zephyr Teachout, Pramila Jayapal or Carol Shea Porter but someone whose instincts will always be right on every issue. I've sat and looked her in the eyes and feel confident of that. But on the character scale... I was never as sure. She's awfully friendly with some really shady political characters and I never got the idea that she would stand up very well to pressure from the establishment when push came to shove I had a taste of it last year. She was a Bernie supporter and saw eye to eye on every issue with him. But when a Clinton operative told her they would recruit and back an opponent against her if she didn't endorse Hillary, she buckled in record time. Ugh. She was hardly alone in that little scenario.
Her campaign manager was an old friend of mine and we've fought on the same side of several elections together. But when he called and asked me for a Blue America endorsement-- following up on her own call asking for the endorsement-- I was hesistant. She already had a lot of money, is personally wealthy and had been endorsed by both the DCCC and EMILY's List. Did she really need our help as much as the candidates whose campaigns were struggling to just survive? He suggested that we just endorse her so they could use it for a press release and not worry about the contributions. I said I'd have to discuss it with the other Blue America principals and punted.
Eventually she drew a really corrupt and right-wing New Dem primary opponent who, if he beat her, would either get swept into office on Hillary's coattails and vote like a Republican (the way he did when he was in Congress, briefly, once before) or he would lose despite Hillary smashing Señor Trumpanzee in the district since he's such a thoroughly disliked candidate by independents in the district. So we said it was OK to use our name in a press release.
Months went by and the corrupt New Dem was gaining on her, overtaking her in some of the polling. The DCCC and EMILY's List made her fire her staff and they put their own people in, proven hacks who always lose elections. Her campaign immediately eschewed any discussion of populist issues and started looking more and more like a garden variety, empty suit, mystery meat DCCC campaign with an over-lay of EMIL's List nastiness. It was all downhill after that.
At one point, Blue America decided to do a special fundraising effort for our candidates in her state and I asked her if she wanted to participate. She said she did. I told her it would mean we would send out a letter to our members on a Sunday and then all the candidates would send out letters to their own lists the next day and that we would follow up with another letter on Tuesday. She agreed as did the other candidates we wanted to raise money for. It went well and then I noticed when the other campaigns sent their letters out, she didn't. I asked her what was up and she said she'd get her people on it. "Her people," meant the DCCC and EMILY's List hacks. I got a bad feeling. And sure enough-- as I should have known-- an EMILY's List creep got back to me and said they had their own plans until the primary and had no time to send out the Blue America letter. (What went unsaid was that our letter was from a very progressive perspective that the campaign was not emphasizing any longer.)
I pointed out that all the candidates were in the exact same situation since they all had the same primary day and that the agreement was made before we started the process and that they should live up to their promise. At that point the candidate responded that there had been no agreement and that she knows how to fulfill a promise. (See, that's how I could empathize with Maddow when Kellyanne lied to her Friday.) It took me about a minute and a half to remove her name from the ActBlue page so that contributions coming in as splits wouldn't go to her.
A couple weeks later she lost her primary to the corrupt New Dem by 726 votes out of around 29,000 cast. No prizes for a close call though and I'm sure the EMILY's List and DCCC hacks are long gone and off destroying someone else's campaign from inside. Our page didn't raise a lot of money-- barely over 10 grand-- but there were 923 contributions-- and she got cut off after just 48. I wonder how many of those 923 contributors have have been voters who could have helped her close the 726 vote gap.
So what did I learn-- or re-learn since its happened again and again? Don't get too involved with candidates who are too weak to stand up to DCCC and EMILY's List operatives; they almost never win. (I worry that EMILY's List is going to screw up Hillary's campaign and that we'll wind up with President Trumpanzee. Whenever I see Stephanie Schriock on TV playing Hillary surrogate I wonder if Trump himself could have picked someone any better as a spokesperson for an opponent.)