Friday, January 27, 2012

Reflections on Missouri's 2nd Congressional District

Ed Martin
Ed Martin has decided to run for Attorney General in Missouri. He's taking some flak for having previously announced his candidacy for US Senate against Claire McCaskill and then switching to Missouri's Second Congressional District against Ann Wagner. The fact of the matter is that candidates in Missouri do not file to run in Missouri until February 28th, so while Martin has flitted around a bit, the impending filing deadline assures me that he wont be switching again.

Last Fall when Ed's supporters (and some say Ed himself) were hoping that he would enter the Missouri Governor's race, I wrote about what it would take for him to make that switch and I believe this holds for his switch to the AG race:
Yes, Ed Martin has grassroots support, but it's his ties to the Republican Party that must provide momentum for the push. The grassroots are not going to raise the million plus dollars required to put force behind that push. Furthermore, Martin will not elbow Peter Kinder out of the way even if the grassroots want him to. In short, the only realistic path I see for Ed Martin to enter the Governor's race is for the heir apparent, Peter Kinder, to pass the baton to Martin. That would involve stepping aside and endorsing Martin as well as providing an infusion of cash to a Martin for Governor campaign committee.
A lot has changed since I wrote that. Having been dogged by scandals and a lack of campaign cash, Kinder is now running for Lt Governor. Speaker of the Missouri House Steve Tilley has bowed out of the Lt. Governor race for personal and family reasons. Tilley had amassed a considerable war chest which is no longer available for the 2012 fight.

More importantly, Ed Martin has already accomplished the first thing he had to do to make this switch: he got numerous endorsements from around the state from both establishment Republicans and grassroots activists. The entire Republican delegation to Congress has endorsed him, but it's the other endorsements that speak volumes. The Republican leadership in Missouri government including Lt. Gov Kinder and Speaker Tilley as well as President Pro Tem Rob Mayer and Senator Kevin Engler have endorsed Ed. Mayer and Engler were in a fiercely contested Missouri Senate leadership battle that was ultimately decided by a coin toss in 2010. The Mayer endorsement is important for another reason. With no one willing to step forward and run for AG until Martin's announcement earlier this week, Mayer's name was one of the few floated. Having endorsed Ed, it seems likely that the primary season will be one focused on Chris Koster instead of a partisan primary fight. Given the change in the political landscape and choosing the AG office over the Governor's job, I'd give him an A- on my endorsement assignment.

Ed still has to complete the second assignment that I gave him: an infusion of cash. I expect that will come in the coming weeks and months, so I will give him through the first quarter to demonstrate that he can raise the money needed to beat Koster. At this point, he's got an incomplete for his second assignment.

How this Changes Missouri's 2nd Congressional District Race

Ann Wagner is hoping for a lightly contested primary followed by a pro forma general election that seats her in a sinecure for the next thirty years.

I don't think that's going to happen.

When Todd Akin stepped up to run for US Senate, Ann announced her candidacy for his old US House seat in Missouri's 2nd Congressional District (MO2). Ed Martin also announced his candidacy for MO2 around that time because he did not want to compete against Akin in the Senate race. I wonder if that deference is at play again. I wonder if Todd Akin is considering abandoning his bid for Senate and returning to run in MO2.

Akin has struggled to raise the money required for a Senate bid. Additionally, his campaign infrastructure has not scaled up to a state-wide effort very well. It's strained. That's not to say that he hasn't worked hard to reach out to the state--I saw him in Joplin last July--but that he has not done as well as his two competitors. And, because of his fundraising constraints, Akin has been forced to rely on family to help staff his campaign.

I think that it's probable that Akin will switch his candidacy to Missouri's 2nd Congressional District. He's got a tremendous base there. In fact, there are some areas of the district that have given him 90+% of the vote in recent primaries. Could Martin be deferring again?

Had Akin not moved to the Senate race, he would've had trouble raising any campaign funds. Had he stayed in MO2, an R+7 district, he wouldn't have needed much money to retain his seat. Jumping into the Senate race allows him to raise money against the bogey monster Claire McCaskill, but those funds will be available even if he abandons his Senate bid and returns to run against Ann Wagner in MO2. In short, was Martin's deference last Spring part of a pre-planned bait-n-switch from an Akin-Martin tag team aimed at Ann Wagner?

Probably not. Politics is too messy a business for that much duplicity...

9 comments:

JD said...

Two comments here, Darin:

1) In the area of campaign cash, Martin has been asking for contributions this past year to support his run first for the Senate, then MO-02, and now A.G. As your article points out, this is dizzying in and of itself. My question to Ed is whether or not he plans to offer refunds to those who contributed to his previous "campaigns" who may not have wanted to support him in his House run against Wagner and now his run for A.G. If not, the "bait-and-switch" tactic you mentioned applies not only to Wagner in MO-02 but to ordinary citizens giving their hard-earned money to support Ed for in a run for a specific office. The honorable thing for Ed to do is to offer these refunds.

2) Could Akin's candidacy be having trouble getting off the ground due to his abysmal voting record in 2011. Akin consistently chose to support his "leadership" as they sold us down the road on budget bill after budget bill in 2011, resulting in continued funding of Obama Care, Planned Parenthood, etc. while increasing our debt by another $1T plus. Rather than stand on conservative principles and vote "NO" on these budget bills following in the footsteps of Flake, Bachmann, King, Paul, and others, Akin made the political calculus to follow his "leadership"off the fiscal cliff with OUR tax dollars. I suspect people are beginning to pay attention to Akin's votes instead of his words and are figuring this out.

Here's a partial list of his votes for anyone wanting to verify these assertions:

http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2011/roll154.xml

http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2011/roll177.xml

http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2011/roll247.xml

http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2011/roll268.xml

http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2011/roll719.xml

http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2011/roll727.xml

Bill Hennessy said...

I'd be kind of shocked if Todd Akin tried to return to the 2nd District race. Not saying it won't happen, but a lot of people shuffled their plans for his Senate run.

I'd also say that Missouri is better off with Ed Martin as AG for a number of reasons. One of which is that he could help put more statewide races in play in 2012. http://bit.ly/yyXXtc more that link.

dsm said...

@JD,

By all means, demand your money back if you don't support Ed's campaign for AG. Personally, I'm disappointed that Ed did not heed the advice he had been given over a year ago to run for AG or SoS, but regardless of that, I gave Ed money because I believe in Ed. If you don't support his candidacy for AG, then ask him to give your money back.

I do understand that some people may have donated to him because that don't want Ann Wagner to be elected to Congress. I certainly don't want Ann elected myself; however, I didn't donate to Ed because of that.

Look, if you're going to raise money you have to raise a lot of. If you're running for Federal office, you have to raise a lot of it in donations <= $2,500. That means you have to start raising the money well in advance of the election. This is much harder to do when proxies for your primary opponent are calling your donors and telling them not to give to your campaign.

The bottom line is that in order to raise money, you have to declare your candidacy for office. That means that if you switch races in the future, you'll pay a price. Part of that price is donors asking for their money back.

No, Akin's problem is not his 2011 voting record. His problem is that he never played well with the state-wide GOP infrastructure. He built his own, loyal grassroots organization in MO2 which has served him well over the years, but has not scaled to the statewide race. Additionally, he's running against two self financed candidates while having to dedicate most of his own time to fund raising. Furthermore, Claire McCaskill has never earmarked anything while Akin has, so it's going to be a tough slog for him in the fall if he gets the nomination.

And, no matter how much you dislike Akin's votes, Ann will be no better. She's in the pocket of Enterprise Rent a Car and she has ties to the stem cell industry, "green" energy, etc. In short, if you fault Akin for voting with his party (and you should hold that against him!) do you really think that a former head of MOGOP and former candidate for RNC chairman is going to blaze her own trail in Congress? Really?

JD said...

Darin, for the record I haven't given a dime to any of Ed's campaigns. I'm just saying that if someone asks you for money to do something you want or believe in, then they change their mind and don't do it, the right thing to do is to at least OFFER to give the money back instead of taking it and using it for something else. If you paid a car dealer for a blue Chrysler 300, but when you went to the dealer to pick it up they told told you they took your money and bought a Red Dodge Ram for you instead - but hey, it's in the Chrysler family - I suspect you might want to be given the option of getting a refund. Same thing here with the people who DID contribute to Ed's earlier campaigns.

I'm a little surprised that you see no problem with Akin's 2011 voting record. This "consistent constitutional Christian conservative" voted multiple times to fund Obama Care, Planned Parenthood, unconstitutional U.N. mandates, etc. at the behest of his "leadership" apparently for his own political advancement.

McCaskill voted to pass the Obama Care legislation, Akin (and the rest of the Missouri Republican contingent) voted to continue to fund it in the 2011 CRs and the CY2012 budget. So I ask - what's the difference? McCaskill placed the order and Akin protested then helped write the checks to pay for the order - with your and my money, of course.

Admittedly I expect nothing better from Wagner, but comparing Akin to her in this discussion is somewhat of a red herring since Akin is now running for the Senate against Steelman and Brunner, neither one of whom have EVER IN THEIR LIVES voted even ONCE to force you, me, and the rest of the 71% of Missourians who supported Prop C to fund Obama Care, Planned Parenthood, ACORN, etc. etc., while sliding our country further into the abyss of debt. You may be right about Akin not being in the inner circle of the Missouri GOP, but could that be due to the fact that he has abandoned his Missouri constituency to become an entrenched D.C. beltway insider, as evidenced by his 2011 votes with his "leadership" that put political expediency over the very principles he claims are his Missouri "brand"?

dsm said...

@JD,

I don't see any point in a candidate who switches races making an offer to give donations back. As someone who's actually donated to Ed, I hope he doesn't do that. People ask for their donations back all the time. One of Kinder's Christian conservative backers asked for his money back and has now plowed $250,000 (or more) into Lager's campaign against Kinder.

Because Tilley is stepping away from politics for a few years, he did do something like what you're talking about and contacted his donors. He offered to return their donations on a pro-rated basis since his campaign was already underway, so they wouldn't get 100% of their donations back. That really does seem fair to me, but it's not going to get Tilley (or Ed if he did it) any positive press.

Akin. Yeah, I was a bit too brusque in my dismissal of Akin's voting record. I have heard others note that he's not as conservative as they thought. My point was that his voting record would not be noticed by anyone if he lacked the ground game to raise his name recognition state-wide. Once he's got name recognition, then his voting record becomes important. I think he's failing on step 1--name recognition--so step 2--what he's voted for--doesn't come into play.

I think both Brunner and Steelman are reasonable candidates. Neither is tied to the GOP establishment. I also think it's unfair to call Akin a DC insider. He has his faults, but he really hasn't lost his Missouri roots. If you feel otherwise, take it up with his campaign. They need that feedback!

JD said...

Darin,

It sounds like we aren't too far apart on the "refund" issue. I will say this: there is a big difference in my mind between a candidate taking money to run for a given office then dropping out of the race than taking money for a given office and later using that money to run for a DIFFERENT office. The drop-out situation is an inherent risk that the donor assumes, the switching of races not so much so because people generally contribute to campaigns for one of three reasons: 1) they like the individual (this appears to be the case with you and Martin), 2) they agree with the position the candidate is taking wrt to the office he is seeking, 3) they oppose the person running against the candidate (as will be the case with whomever I end up supporting in the Republican primary running against Akin). In two of these three cases a "refund" is warranted because the money should be applied to support the cause the donor intended, rather than merely given to an individual for ANY cause.

As for Akin, believe me Darin we have given him feedback - on multiple occasions. Akin and his campaign are tone-deaf. Try talking to them some time and what you will get is a pompous lecture on the Washington "process" and why it's important to compromise on core principles to cut a deal. Talk in depth sometime to Akin and you will quickly find that with it's all about and working within the failed DC culture that he has been immersed in for over a decade - and winning the next election.

A group of more than 20 grass-roots patriots met with Akin for over three hours last April to express our displeasure (feedback) with him for his first vote in favor of these budgets, further ceding even more control of our economy to Obama and the DC progressives less than 6 months after we all (including folks like yourself) worked so hard to put Republicans in power to reverse the tide of Obama Care and crippling debt. Akin offered us some doughnuts (no one accepted) then treated us to three hours of smarmy, insulting political double-talk and essentially blew us off. When one individual asked what we could do to help him in decisions on future votes he told her to sign up for his news letter and put some "Todd Akin" signs in her front yard. Of course, the ultimate insult was that Akin continued to cast his votes for these budgets throughout 2011 - at the behest of his "leadership" - that will bind our government with Obama Care and Planned Parenthood funding as well as increasing the debt through this fiscal year (2012). You see, when a person believes that he is the smartest person in the room, the "feedback" he gets from children of a lesser God is mere background noise. Call it what you want, but nothing reeks more of being a D.C. "establishment" insider than this type of behavior.

Van said...

I’ve got to ask something that’s been bugging me.

Without bothering with any one candidate… this looking at winning an office, from the purpose of securing an office, regardless of the district or office – and necessarily regardless of the particular issues of the people in these districts – and then adding on top of that, shifting to another race, and yet another, again, for the purpose of securing an office… and power....

How is this anything other than a completely Capital “E” Establishment point of view? I’m not interested in ‘which’ establishment we’re talking about, Democrat, Republican or even Tea Party for that matter, how is that anything other than a purely establishment, purely concerned with Power for Power’s sake, view of matters?

dsm said...

It absolutely is establishment. Do you prefer the blissful ignorance of not knowing the horse trading that goes on behind the scenes as candidates maneuver for office or would you rather have the publicly embarrassing spectacle of a candidate that jumps races? I prefer the spectacle because I think that approach is more transparent.

In Ed Martin's case, his squirrel-like attention to the race at hand appears to have lost him the support of Missouri Record:

http://www.missourirecord.com/blog/index.asp?blog=708

http://www.missourirecord.com/blog/offtherecord/index.asp?blog=116

However, I will disagree with your analysis that it's "power for power's sake". That assumes you know motivations that you, in fact, do not know. There's no doubt that politicians are attracted to power like moths to the flame, but, in my opinion, that says nothing about the purity (or lack thereof) of their motivations. Obviously, others would disagree.

Van said...

No, I don't find any bliss in any ignorance, but... I'd prefer candidates who ran in order to accomplish things which were specific to the particular office they were running for... hence the reason for filing to run for that office.

Martin put me in the 'undecided' column when he switched from the Senate to the 2nd, now that he's switched to AG... I'm in the 'lost' column.

"However, I will disagree with your analysis that it's "power for power's sake". That assumes you know motivations that you, in fact, do not know."

Well, I've got to disagree right back at you. If you aren't running to accomplish the specific goals which a particular office can address, then the only remaining goal is to get a hold of any office port in the political storm, and the only purpose that leaves for seeking it, is the power itself - you already ruled out specific purpose for the power, so that leaves power alone, any power, to accomplish any thing, which any office will afford you.

Makes me more than a bit ill.