Primaries Are Often Good!
by howardpark, Tue Feb 14, 2006 at 06:41:28 AM EST
I'm not from Ohio and don't know enough about what is going on there to go far too out on a limb, lest it break off.
We must never forget that principles and results are more important than politics. There are plenty of Dem. politicians who I don't like but who get results -- the problem is that I really can't say that, yet, about the current leadership crowd.
I do think the Dem. leadership is being shortsighted in, apparently, adopting a policy that primaries are bad and all sorts of manipulation is justified to avoid primaries. Regardless of what is right according to some sort of moral judgement, I just think it is poor political judgement. This comes from a party leadership that does not exactly have a good record over the past 10 years or so. Tom DeLay was a skunk, but until he went too far with ethics he was darn effective. Who among the Dems. is effective? Time will tell.
Case 1: Wisconsin 1988, a 3 way primary for the US Senate between Rep. Jim Moody, Millionaire Businessman Joe Checota and State Senator Russ Feingold. Who raised & spent the most money? Checota & Moody by a LONG shot. Who won, Feingold and he has held the seat ever since in a swing state. The "kingmakers" of the time wanted Feingold out, if they had got their way a Republican would probably hold the seat today.
Case 2: 2002 Maryland, the primary was to succeed Gov. Paris Glendening, a not terribly popular two term incumbent who could not run for another term. The establishment choice was Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, daughter of Robert Kennedy. Popular Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley badly wanted to run. The party establishment put HEAVY pressure on O'Malley to forego it. O'Malley bowed to the pressure. Townsend proved to be a poor candidate -- she had never had to run in a contested primary. She would have been a stronger candidate had she beaten O'Malley. Conversely, most observers believe O'Malley would have beaten current GOP Governor Bob Ehrlich. O'Malley is trying again in 2006, he has a tough primary.
Case 3 2004 Presidential -- the strategy was get the primaries over ASAP and unite quickly behind the (fairly narrow) winner of Iowa & New Hampshire. Kerry had other problems but this strategy was flawed -- for more reasons than I have time to write about.
A great Dem. leader who had his own problems with the grassroots of his time said that "It's better to have 'em inside the tent pissing out than outside pissing in." That was Lyndon Johnson. Increasingly, netroots activists are being forced outside of the tent of Democratic politics. Somebody needs to make it a bigger tent, even if there are a few primaries.