Wednesday, September 15, 2010

To Thine Ownself Be True

What more can be said about Delaware's Primary Election night? After all, every national media outlet in the nation has been talking about the O'Donnell victory over Castle in the Republican primary for US Senate.

O'Donnell will get a great deal of media play. She is just the type of entertainment/news that has become the mainstay of what passes for political discourse. Love her or hate her, throughout the campaign she has remained true to her own values and probably will do so even with a camera in her face from now to November 2nd.

Chris Coons, the Democrat for US Senate will pick up his share of attention as well. Coons is now positioned to be the reasonable choice to represent Delaware not only for Democrats, but for moderate Republicans and Independents as well. His candidacy will be viewed by the Democratic National Committee as a hedge against a Republican take over of the Senate...and therein is both the solution and problem.

The Coons Campaign has not lacked for a great candidate with big ideas. It has lacked money. Now will come the opportunity for money and with the money, the consultants. Consultants for Democrats have had one game plan for candidates over the last 30 years; run to the middle. The gist of the idea is that your base has no where to go and you pick up Independents and moderate Republicans. You stand in the middle of the road and hitch a ride from voters all the way to DC.

As someone who has followed American politics since I was eight years old when RFK was running, and who has worked professionally in politics for more than a couple of decades, I would give two points of caution about this strategy. First, candidates always run better when they run true to themselves. If Coons is a progressive, he should run with those ideals, explained in a populist way. Second, given the choice between a real Republican and a faux Republican, Republicans will choose the genuine article; and there is an old joke that Independents are Republicans with an identity crisis.

Please, take my second point above as about 85% jest. Republicans and Democrats in Delaware often cross Party lines when voting because we do not have the same political polarization as most of the nation. Moreover, more people in Delaware choose to be Independents because of this unique practice of politics in the state.

The point is, both candidates should be who they are and let the voters decide on the merits of their positions. Neither O'Donnell or Coons should let someone from DC in a $2,000 suit tell them who to be.

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