Saturday, November 11, 2017

Perhaps I Made a Mistake--In Which I Review My Decision Not to Run for Senate

As some of you know, I toyed with the idea of running against Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) in the 2018 Maryland U.S. Senate race. In the summer of 2016, I began a process of figuring out whether or not to do so. I thought deeply about it; I gathered friends and wise people to discuss it; I began planning, I wrote a monthly newsletter, I started to work on my public speaking, and I generally obsessed with what could only have been considered quixotic exercise.

Maryland is deeply, deeply Democratic state. There hasn't been a Republican Senator in over thirty years. The last time it voted for a Republican for President was I believe, Reagan in 84.  There have been a few Republican governors, including Larry Hogan, our present Governor, and one of the most popular governors in the country. He is also up for re-election in 2018.

What I'm trying to say is that winning a statewide race in Maryland as a Republican is -- under the best of conditions -- a long-shot.

But at the time--I saw two things that made the long shot a little less long. First was the presence of the Governor on the ballot. Larry Hogan is as I said, very popular, and he had done a good job of showing snowflakey Maryland voters that a Republican doesn't have to be scary. And at the time, I was not a very scary Republican.  Second was that I thought Hillary Clinton would win the November 2016 election (I think I can be excused this mistake, as mostly everyone else did too) and there would be an inevitable backlash against her administration in the 2018 Congressional elections. Taken together, these two contributors lowered the barriers to a Republican winning--but still not by much.

Because I needed to have a rational decision-making process as I approached this, I had a series of "go/no-go" points along the way, the first of which was the Presidential election. Simply put, although I saw his chances of winning as minimal, I believed that if Donald Trump DID win, my brand of GOP politics would be so far out of favor with the Maryland electorate that I would not have a prayer in the primary. So--it was the first "no go" point. On the morning after the election, I realized I had reached that point, and I told Catherine and everyone else following my decision that I would not go any farther.

A year later, I am second-guessing myself. Not the decision, per se, but the logic behind it. A year after the election of Donald Trump, he is singularly unpopular. His support even in the Republican Party, is slowly declining, and his support nationwide reflects his position as a deeply polarizing figure. My guess is though, that among a goodly number of Republicans likely to vote in a Maryland GOP Primary (closed primary), he is still quite popular. But that popularity seems to me, to offer the interesting new angle.

If you go back and look at the GOP Senate primaries in the past few go-rounds, you see one theme repeated--there are a number of hopefuls, and they divide up the vote with the winner managing only a plurality. So, cut ahead to the 2018 primary. Let's say six people were running. My gut tells me that most--if not all--would be falling over themselves to be seen by the Trump friendly GOP primary electorate as "Pro-Trump". Which means that if one of them were to run as the explicitly conservative, old school GOP "Anti-Trump" guy--he or she could gain traction with that portion of the GOP electorate who is not on the "Trump Train".  Stay with me now.

If someone running for Senate in the State of Maryland GOP Primary--were to run as a loud and proud you think the Washington DC media would be able to leave that person alone? Or do you think they would get a BUTT TON of free media. Remember--to win the Senate race, you first have to be nominated. Getting nominated in a multi-horse race means you've got to have name recognition. Someone who mounts a campaign like the one I've described could gain a good deal of it--perhaps enough to gain 20-30% of the vote in a GOP primary--which could be enough to win. Additionally, someone running a campaign like this would have to appeal to "unaffiliated" voters to register GOP and vote for him/her in the primary. The ability to register a vote AGAINST Trump in a GOP primary would be CATNIP to some voters. 

Clearly, what I've described is an odd way to look at things, but then again, anyone running as a Republican in Maryland is somewhat odd to begin with. That said, I cannot even begin to tell you how much fun I would have with this kind of campaign, how wonderful it would be to travel the State talking about the buffoon in the Oval Office and more importantly--how he lied to his supporters and how he is leaving them behind.

Would I win? Could I win? Doubtful. But man--it would be a hoot.

1 comment:

"The Hammer" said...

All things being equal, no anti-Trump Republican can win in a liberal state. If the electorate shares their 'I hate the Donald' views then why would they not vote for the Democrat? That's something you people seem to not understand, Trump got the middle, the working class that has been ignored by both parties that has stayed home for years. Running as an anti-Trump Republican might could work in a solidly Republican state like Nebraska or Kansas where it's Republicans against Republicans, I say might. But in Maryland, you'd come in second to yourself.
By the way most people ain't me. THE HAMMER had it right.

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