The Campaign That Couldn’t Shoot Straight, Part IV: Howling With Mild Approval

As we’ve been noting this week, the DFL candidate in the 3rd CD, Brian Barnes, may be a heck of a guy – but his campaign has been making some odd choices.

Their campaign signs – one of which I finally saw on the street the other day – still  violate FEC law. which is all nit-picky and anal-retentive, but I sure didn’t make up the law.  They still apparently are either conjuring up polls from the ether, or have found a pollster that’ll do polling for free or, more likely, are using internal push polls to try to convince potential donors to pony up for what will likely be a quixotic bid for office.  And one of Barnes’ “political organizers” has been disparaging small town and suburban people, who make up approximately all of Paulsen’s district.

The Barnes campaign (push-polls notwithstanding) are generally considered a long shot by the Democrat establishment.  And like all long-shot campaigns, Barnes’ has to try to find something to try to get some traction.

Some long-shot campaigns overcome that obstacle via ruthless budgeting, solid  organizing and above all, relentless hard work; see Chip Cravaack in 2010.

Others – the ones who can’t manage the budgeting, work and organizing – have to find some Hail Mary or another, something that’ll give ’em a hook to get them some mindshare, some little slice of the public consciousness.  See the Tim Penny and Tim Barkley gubernatorial race in 1998, which used a former pro wrestler as an elaborate marionette to serve as the face for their campaign.

Barnes’ campaign seems to have chosen the old standby, “have your people relentlessly repeat a set of chanting points” (along with the DFL’s usual “bank on fawning media coverage“).

Wait – that’s no old standby.  That’s because it doesn’t actually work.

But no matter.  The Barnes campaign seems to be focusing on having its people relentlessly repeat a couple of chanting points in hopes that one of them catches on.

  • “He’s Not Really A Moderate”:  The theory, of course, is that the “Moderate” voters in “purple” districts like Edina, and “blue” districts like Bloomington, will repel from talk that Paulsen “votes like Michele Bachmann”.  On the other hand in an election cycle where the smart people know that we’re headed for a fiscal cliff, I – an obstreporous conservative – see that as a feature, not a bug.   The real point is, people – outside the wonk class – vote for a person and a record and a number of issues.  Not a wonk’s label.  Paulsen’s conservative enough for me – I wish he represented CD4 (note to self – vote for Tony Hernandez as many times as Mark Ritchie allows you to).  Chanting “you’re like teh Bachmann” is not a policy.
  • “Where’s the public debate?”:  This is the latest one.  For months, Barnes’ people chanted “where’s the debate?”  Then, two debates – one at KSTP-TV and one with the League of Women Voters – were scheduled.  The chanting point changed to “where’s the public debate – as if a debate that Barnes’ people and the DFL could flood with DFL lemmings and SEIU droogs with photocopied questions would actually get people to the bottom of the issues.  Quick – where’s Betty McCollum’s public debate?  Keith Ellison’s?

In re this last – the Barnes campaign is reportedly mailing around a video of Paulsen “dodging” a question at a town hall back in 2009.  Unstated; it’s a question from former Minnesota leftyblogger and one-man tracking firm Dusty Trice, and it’s a pointed trap question intended to look bad on Trice’s video.

It didn’t work; in fact, Paulsen’s performance at that particular town hall (not a debate, mind you) drew this compliment from conservative talk show host Jack Tomczak:

Ok, I was kidding. I’m a kidder, I kid. It wasn’t Tomczak. It was leftyblogger “Two Putt” Tommy Johnson, the Twin Cities’ foremost leftyblog journalist, who is generally conceded to be the  DFL’s  intellectual standard-bearer.

And if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me.


Someone asked me the other day – “why are you burning up so much time on the Barnes campaign.

As usual, two reasons.

  • If you’re a Republican toiling away in SD67, or CD5, just know that there are DFLers that are having just as much fun – and spending a lot more money than your candidate in doing it.
  • And if you’re a Republican in the 3rd CD?  Don’t believe the hype.  Oh, turn out to the polls; there are so many things that we need to crush with an epic turnout this November; Obama, Obamacare, the DFL’s drive for majorities in the Legislature, the Strib poll and so very very very much more.   But this is not the speed bump they’re looking for.

And a note to the Barnes campaign; instead of badgering Paulsen about debates, try running a coherent campaign that gives the voter an actual reason to vote for you.

Hope I’m not giving too much away, there…

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