Oh, Blame!

Here’s an interesting bit of gossip. I’m hearing that Maggart didn’t lose because of some great NRA influence in her district, but because she didn’t campaign anywhere but Hendersonville and it pissed her base off that she thought she could just skate by acting like she had this all but won because she had such powerful friends.

If so, it suggests two interesting things–one, the Republicans might also have some leadership problems. While I agree with folks that say that Tennessee will be Republican for a long time, the thing I have been stunned to see is that Republican politicians seem to think this means that they will be in office for a long time, as if the state leaning more conservative means that voters are happy with those particular Republicans.

It’s like thinking that, if you are on a baseball team that has had a hundred years of losing seasons and you are among the guys who take your division, that you won’t be traded for a player the coach thinks works better.

Who has two elections-worth of power and decides that means they are untouchable? What kind of party leadership lets individual politicians make that mistaken assumption?

And two, it means that the support of the gun lobby was not as big a factor as it’s being played up as, but is, instead, a convenient scapegoat. Maggart lost through no fault of her own, but because a powerful lobby set against her. You can see both why politicians would promote this narrative and why the gun lobby would.

But the fact of the matter on the conservative side remains this–permissive gun laws are widely favored by individuals and more restrictive gun laws are favored by businesses. Individual gun rights people can crow about spending $75,000 on that one race, but the issue remains–do you think, say, FedEx or Ingram or Amazon would blink at spending $75,000?

That’s a shit ton of money for an advocacy group. It’s chump change to multinational businesses. I don’t believe there’s an astute Republican politician in this state who doesn’t know that.

I’ll be more convinced the “Safe Commute” bills have a chance of passing when and if we see the insurance lobbyists not the gun lobbyists working on them.

Until then, I just don’t believe Republicans are ready to piss off the people with the most money.

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2 thoughts on “Oh, Blame!

  1. Aunt B.,

    When the final totals are in I think you will see that Representative Maggart will have outspent representative-elect Rogers by at least 2 to 1. Most of the money for Representative Maggart will have come from special interests and fellow legislators.

    I suspect that Representative-elect Linn will have been outspent by Representative Linda Elam by a similar margin.

    The myth that spending vast sums on elections always wins elections is not borne out by election results.

    The most valuable lesson of the Maggart/Rogers race is that allowing individuals and groups who are united on an issue or issues other than money to contribute as much money as they can will offset the advantage of even the largest special interests.

    Imagine, for example, a similar election to Maggart/Rogers where the incumbent was a pro-choice Democrat who had opposed a bill to end the state’s ban on late-term abortion {I am speaking hypothetically and not about Tennessee}. Despite having an A+ rating from pro-choice groups up to that point, opposition to this bill earns the legislator being targeted by those same groups.

    Now this legislator is a powerful committee chair or member of Leadership and will get major support from other traditional Democratic groups like unions, plaintiffs’ lawyers, environmentalists etc. All these groups not only value the legislator’s support for their issues and the power she wields in shaping legislation.

    The candidate of the pro-choice groups can count on little money from special interests who regularly do ‘business’ at the Capitol. Her only deep pockets are pro-choice individuals and groups who oppose the late-term ban and reject the idea of compromising on issues relating to choice.

    This is the reason that limits on individual contributions are bad for democracy. Traditional special interests like small businesses or unions or X, Y and Z will almost always side with incumbents. As will other incumbents.

    The cure is to let ideological special interests and individuals be able to contribute in order to redress the imbalance between financial and ideological special interests. That is the only way to create a fair playing field.

    Give me a good candidate with an important issue that resonates and enough money to gun an effective campaign and you can outspend me 10 to 1 and I will still win 75% of the time.

    Public financing won’t work because it gives incumbents too much of an advantage. The solution is unlimited contributions by individuals with 24 hour electronic disclosure and a few related restrictions.

  2. Also the story I hear from Republicans in Sumner County is that Representative Maggart had a reputation for being more interested in Nashville than in the district. Having her daughter as a lobbyist on the Hill and her involvement in some inside baseball in her county seem to have left a large number of voters willing to support a viable option. The NRA money allowed Rogers to run the campaign she needed to win. Even being massively outspent.

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