Sunday, June 7, 2009

How solid or soft is the support of any candidate?

Vivian Page made some good points but this has nothing to do with mail pieces or literature. This has to do entirely about wanting the candidate you are backing, to win. It also has to do with how solid or soft the support of a candidate is, if they are being held accountable for oversights of details and making sure that candidates are fully vetted. I actually stumbled across this. I was fully willing to let this pass, but I started doing some checking and here is how this developed.

I contacted someone (a Democratic Chair) that I knew in the Roanoke Valley who was listed as a supporter of Mike Signer and they said they were supporting Jody Wagner and that they had given that endorsement that day (Friday). So I went to Wagner's website and saw the list of Committee Chair endorsers. I saw John Lawrence's name up there and contacted a Lynchburg City Committee member (Martha Hicks). I asked if this was true and she checked. What was correct was that he is supporting Jody, but he didn't give his permission to use his name in a list of endorsements (as Martha has posted, John Lawrence also wasn't overly concerned either).

Calling the Wagner campaign was not going to tell me anything that contacting the people on the list they rolled out on Friday that I couldn't confirm for myself from talking directly with them. What was the Wagner campaign going to say other than yes, all these people have endorsed us. Some of them were correct and some were not. I had another conversation with a different SWVA Dem Chair yesterday and it became apparent what the strategy was for the Wagner Campaign. They have been doing a final call around to local committees chairs to see if they have moved and I suspect that they rolled out the line, "Senator/Delegate/Sheriff, Coucilwo/man has endorsed us. Why not jump on board." And that's perfectly fine. Then there's the attention to detail part of this story. A chair, like John Lawrence, says that he is voting for Jody Wagner, but he doesn't say one way or the other that it is OK to use his name on a list of endorsements. This is where the staff person, or the candidate, needed to ask the question "Can we list/use your name as an endorser of the campaign?" With John Lawrence, it looks like that question wasn't asked.

Like I said in the first sentence of the post, something always happens in the closing days of an intra-party contest. This one is about attention to detail, but to be fair, the Signer campaign had one that was not solid either. In my post on why I am supporting Mike Signer, I said that prior to John Bowerbank's exit from the race I was inclined to support Jody Wagner. But that all changed when I saw the video of her enthusiastic support of Right-to-Work. I have also explained my position on that as well.

Then I took a harder look at Jody. There is nothing in her list of issues or campaign platform that shows her understanding of social and economic justice issues. She has a list a mile long of institutional endorsements that on the surface is very impressive, but when you dig deeper there is not much else there. Then I looked at where she stands on the lifting the Uranium Mining Moratorium and also any statements about the Fly Ash contamination of the well water around the Battlefield Golf Course in Chesapeake. I still haven't come across any position or statement. The Virginia Beach City Council has made their position very clear on the Uranium Mining issue since they get their drinking water from Lake Gaston, which is downstream from the proposed Uranium mine in Pittsylvania County. These are issues that are in her backyard.

I've just gotten back into active partisan politics but I'm a primary voting Democrat and I didn't get one piece of mail, not even a robo call from the Wagner campaign indicating to me that my vote was important to her. I got both from the Signer Campaign and two mail pieces from John Bowerbank who dropped out. Well, some might say Boo-Ho. So what that you didn't get contacted by the Wagner Campaign. What does that mean. Here's what it means. Jody Wagner is taking grassroots support for granted. She hasn't done a very good job of connecting to the grassroots beyond the elected officials and Committee Chairs. And, she is almost, almost, devoid of support in the Netroots Community (KathyinBlacksburg is one that I know is supporting her).

Leaning on Democratic Elected officials and Committee Chairs to influence the Democratic electorate to fall in line is not a good strategy. Hillary Clinton used this strategy and it didn't work too well. Jody Wagner just hasn't done a good job of earning grassroots support beyond the institutional level as evidenced by the 63% of the Democratic electorate polled last week that were still undecided for Lt. Governor.

I'm not slamming her, but being very honest and calling her out on some things that she and her campaign have taken for granted. If she does win, and that's not a guarantee, I hope that corrects these oversights and learns more about how things directly affect people and that she does a much, much better job of connecting and cultivating the grassroots and Netroots. She just hasn't show me that, yet. Right now, I'm leaning pretty heavy on Jody Wagner to make a point, but I would, and will be, just as critical of any candidate or elected official if they took grassroots support for granted or their constituents. For example, Senator Max Baucus of Montana scheduling Health Care Reform Town Halls and not being present at any of them, and to top it off, sending a video to be played at each of them explaining why he can't be there. Give me a break!

I want the best candidate to win the Democratic nomination for Lt. Governor. I just think that people need to take a harder look at Jody Wagner and where she stands on some important issues before they make up their mind on Tuesday.

No comments:

Post a Comment