July 21, 2005

McGavick's Annointment

Looks like the problem of party chairs picking people for races that the grassroots are unhappy with is something that, here in Washington State at least, is a bipartisan gripe. As Goldy says:

While GOPolitburo Chair Chris Vance was anointing Mike McGavick’s brow with oil, the party faithful were not necessarily celebrating his unchallenged ascension to thrown of presumptive nominee. Indeed, according to an article in The Hill, there’s not much rank-and-file consensus over the “consensus candidate” to challenge US Senator Maria Cantwell. ...

If WA Republicans have to suffer a bit of what WA Democrats suffered when our chair hit on the brilliant strategy of running a radio talking head against the local sheriff in the 8th Congressional District, well, they'll have my empathy. Though I'll be shedding no tears on their behalf.

Posted by natasha at July 21, 2005 10:47 PM | WA Politics | Technorati links |

Dave Ross is much more than a talking head. He sings (very fast); he dances (the Twist! The Swim! The Old Soft Shoe!); he recites poetry about 19th century laxatives; he wears green velvet knickers and matching beret; he pounds his chest in despair and collapses on the floor; he threatens platinum-blond twits; he never had a mother (but he had an aunt).

See it all—in public!—this weekend and next at the Bagley Wright Theatre in Seattle Center in the Seattle Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s production of “Patience”, this weekend and the next. Okay, so it’s not as well-known as “The Pirates of Penzance,” but it’s just as funny—maybe funnier. And Dave Ross is a hoot as Reginald Bunthorne.

I’ll be there for almost every show, running the in-house video from the back of the auditorium. Look for a short, stout, middle-aged woman wearing a hat. That’s me.

Jana C.H.
Saith Floss Forbes: If you don’t know the tune, sing tenor.

Posted by: Jana C.H. at July 22, 2005 03:48 PM

What? You didn't like Dave Ross?

I followed the election simply because I listen to Ross' commentary on KNX-1070 here in Southern California.

Posted by: Darryl Pearce at July 22, 2005 03:48 PM

Sorry about repeating "this weekend and the next." That's what I get for not proofreading.

Jana C.H.

Posted by: Jana C.H. at July 22, 2005 03:53 PM

I never listened to Ross on the radio, so before the campaign, I had no idea what he stood for. During the campaign, I got a better idea of who he was from the drooling rabid RW mailings than from the Ross campaign itself. As far as I know, either none of Dave's friends told him about these flyers, or else his campaign had no response. How lame, how ineffectual, how nice is that?

Couldn't they at least have mocked these asinine, moronic, pathetic pieces of trash? Was the Ross campaign afraid of offending someone? Afraid of seeming (gasp!) partisan? A wise-cracking junior-high-schooler could look at these flyers, and say, "Yeah, like if you think Social Security is a communist plot, you should probably, like, vote against Dave Ross, dude!" Ross's campaign could have spent ten or twenty grand to rent a Bellevue hotel a-v room, host a bar and invite the press to hear Ross publicize and endorse Tom DeLay's -- oops -- Dave Reichart's -- campaign against Dave Ross. (A limited endorsement, of course.)

Imagine a story beginning: "'If you already send your Social Security check to the NRA or the John Birch Society, then Reichart's your man!' said a grinning Dave Ross to amused reporters, holding up a flyer in which a Lenin-like (or perhaps Satan-like) beard had been crudely Photoshopped onto his face."

Imagine a headline:
Ross mocks, "endorses" pro-Reichart "get-out-the-extremist-vote" effort
Democrat encourages extremists to vote Republican; confident district has outgrown its extremist past.

How hard would that have been? It would have gotten coverage in every paper and TV station in the state.

Posted by: PhilK at July 22, 2005 07:43 PM

I hate to comment on my own post, but I thought of more to say.

There are (at least) two reasons why the failure of Ross (or the state Demo party) to respond to these wacko flyers was bad, bad, bad:

1. The often-heard point that not hitting back demoralizes your supporters and makes you look like a wimp, but more importantly,

2. It allowed Dave Reichart to pose (like he continues to pose) as a sensible, sane, moderately-conservative, non-extremist candidate, safe in the assurance that all the wacko fringe elements are being stirred up for him. Reichart himself doesn't have to go on record saying Social Security is a plot conceived in the Kremlin -- he can adopt a "stance" of "open-mindedness" or some other moderate-sounding BS for public consumption -- but his (or Tom deLay's) low-key mailer campaign gets the truth out to the faithful: "Social Security is a plot conceived in the Kremlin." This kind of reactionary redneck crap needs to be hung around Reichart's neck like an albatross. And it needs to be done in the mainstream press.

How could the Ross campaign pass up the chance to say: "Dave Reichart claims to be open-minded about Social Security, but he really thinks it's a "communist plot" from the Kremlin. Let's take a look at his campaign literature. Here's a Soviet soldier endorsing America's Social Security program. . . . '

Wow! Social Security is approved by Commies? Hold on a minute, I gotta report my Grandma to the FBI!

Posted by: PhilK at July 23, 2005 09:54 AM

"What? You didn't like Dave Ross?"

Actually, I like Dave Ross the radio host quite a bit. I even liked Dave Ross the interview subject quite a bit, and enjoyed writing up what he had to say. He comes across as someone who understands and has deeply thought about the issues, and I felt that he had a lot to add to the national discussion of divisive topics. Further, I really admired the proof of his convictions on alternative energy as demonstrated by his choice of a Prius, and his general philosophy that actions speak louder than words. Too bad the voters seemed to share that philosophy.

Dave Ross the candidate was a disaster. The local party organizations who muster the troops never fully felt that he wanted to be identified as a Democrat, and it seemed as though he was more concerned with trying to preserve his 'maverick' radio persona than with winning the actual race. He was brought in by the party machine so late, dragged in on the basis of party initiated name recognition polls really, and was so reluctant to take a leave of absence from his show that he never really had time to connect with voters. The whole atmosphere of the thing further alienated those pesky folks who knock on all the doors and distribute all the flyers, particularly when they'd been doing it for candidates who'd been sweating the race for months already. And the general voting public, who sure knew that Ross was a radio host, didn't feel like he had any sort of reliable record of doing anything concrete compared to Reichert.

It was a Disaster, with a capital "D", which rhymes with "T", which stands for Tool. Berendt, that is.

I've always had a strong suspicion that the move was actually Berendt's way of thumbing his nose at the state's elected Democrats, who endorsed Kerry in the primary (with only, IIRC, one defection) instead of favoring his preferred candidate, Dean. That same bunch of people had also endorsed Alben. Now, as anyone could demonstrate with very little digging, I'm a pretty steadfast Dean fan. But that is just no blasted way to run a state party, since when Democrats fight each other more than the opposition, the Republicans are almost guaranteed to walk away with the prize.

Posted by: natasha at July 23, 2005 03:42 PM


Brendt was probably thumbing away, as it were, but realize that Alben was also a strong Kerry fan. Your premise might need to include that point.

I presonally think Brendt thought he had a good idea bacause he thought Alben wasn't selling himself well in his doorbelling (a matter of some dispute), didn't think through the implications of the move, and still won't admit that he screwed up that.

And we won't go into his not pushing the Gregoire campaign to up it a gear or two when Rossi started gaining on her...

Or the fact that Brendt sat on his hands when his candidates for state Attorney General, Commissioner for Public Lands and Secretary of State all could have used his help.

Or his coercion at the last relection of state party officers, including himself, by demanding a public ballot so he could see who voted against him.

No, we won't go into that....

Posted by: palamedes at July 23, 2005 11:43 PM

it seemed as though he was more concerned with trying to preserve his 'maverick' radio persona than with winning the actual race.

I didn't know he was supposed to be a 'maverick' (never listened to his show), but that explains it. Actually, all that means nowadays is that somebody's goofy in some way. John McCain is an excellect example. But it would explain the reluctance to offend anyone, and the reluctance to fight the wacko Social-Security-equals-communism position. Taking a quotable position supporting Social Security -- that would have been a career-limiting move, big-time.

The idea that Social Security is a communist plot, as stupid as it may be, is still a bona-fide 'maverick' position. Maybe Ross felt that he'd be letting down the 'maverick' side if he criticized a fellow 'maverick'.

But anyways, it sounds like Behrendt didn't bother getting any kind of promise that Ross would support core Democratic party principles.

To change the subject a bit, what are the groups in the state party that support Behrendt? Who is he representing?

Posted by: PhilK at July 24, 2005 12:57 PM

"To change the subject a bit, what are the groups in the state party that support Behrendt? Who is he representing?"

He represents the Dean camp. Dean got his largest group of delegates from this state and Berendt stuck with Dean all the way, ingratiating himself with influential longtime field workers who were also Dean supporter. His primary opponent for the last fight for the chairmanship was a county chair who'd been a Dean supporter convinced to support Kerry in return for a delegate spot. This was seen at the time as a peace offering to the Dean camp, sort of a way of saying that the rest of the state party wasn't going to go around excommunicating Deaniacs, as some feared. Berendt put around rumors with the help of others that it was some kind of betrayal, even though it was quite patently obvious that Kerry was the nominee.

Now Dean is, imo, legitimately quite popular with many WA Dems. Berendt reinvented himself as the figurehead of the new wave of political hotness, and voila, he surfs it far enough that added to the connections he's made over his years as party chair got him in. The Dean crowd turned up a lot of new PCOs without a plug into what had gone on previous or what happened with the behind the scenes wrangling and they saw Berendt as the one to help them preserve something of the glory of Dean's primary hay days in state politics.

Anyway, that's my opinion, for what it's worth.

Posted by: natasha at July 24, 2005 09:08 PM