Thursday, May 11, 2006

Corker's Last Stand? - The Battle Of The Little Big Man

This June marks the 130th anniversary of one of the most stunning defeats for the U.S. Army - the total extermination of Lt. Col. George Armstong Custer's 7th regiment at the Little Big Horn River.
The once invincible, mighty Custer - golden boy warrior of the powerful U.S. Army - was outfoxed and outgunned by an enemy whose strength he greatly underestimated.
Fast forward to 2006 and the U.S. Senate race in Tennessee.
This time the proud boastful warrior on the battlefield is Bob Corker - awash with $$ and backed by a growing number of powerful Washington lobbyists and special interests.
Much attention has been given lately to Corker's mighty warchest, and recently Corker himself even bragged of his "surge" in public opinion polls - testament he claims to his growing popularity among GOP party faithful. Indeed, on the surface it would appear that Corker has become the Little Big Man to be reckoned with.
But behind the headlines and Corker's political posturing lies the prospect of a more tragic ending to Corker's political aspirations.
Consider Corker's poll spin.
This week Corker laid claim that his 19% showing in a recent statewide poll of likely GOP voters marks "a surge" in popularity and demonstrates a strong return on his investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent weeks in statewide TV ads, a flood of direct mail pieces and automated phone calls.
His spin on the 19% is that this # shows he has room to grow in popularity. Room to grow, certainly. But 19% also means he's got lots of ground to cover with less than 7 weeks remaining before the start of early voting for the August primary, and less than 12 weeks before election day.
Corker claims he has time and $$ to close this wide gap in popularity between him and his GOP rivals. Anything is possible. But let's get real - closing that big a gap will only likely occur if his GOP rivals were to stop campaigning altogether and disappear from the political radar screen. That ain't going to happen.
Now consider Corker's $$ spin.
Corker has personally spent a huge amount of time in recent weeks stalking Washington lobbysts and special interest PACs. Last night, according to web postings, Corker even went so far as to attend a fundraiser in DC hosted by a lobbyist with reported ties to organized labor. Why would Corker run the risk of further exposing himself to ridicule, charges of hyprocisy and left-leanings tendancies by his GOP rivals? Maybe it's a sign that his primary warchest is running a bit thin.
You see the warchest Corker touts includes $$ that under federal campaign finance laws can only be spent in the general election, not the primary.
How much primary $$ and how general $$ does his warchest include? I honestly don't know, having not had the time to dig deeper into his financial records. But I do know from years of experience that odds are he will be prohibited by law from spending a sizeable portion of his warchest between now and August 3rd.
All this begs the question - does Corker have what he will need to spend what it will take to close the gap in 7 to 12 weeks?
You can count on his GOP rivals continuing to hold their fire until June when you can expect them to launch a full scale assault on the Little Big Man.
Here's how I see it - if Bob Corker is not ahead in the polls (forget more minor surges) by early June, chances are he may never be. Corker may wake up in early June to find that his arsenal is running low on ammo, his previous shots have missed their mark and he is completely surrounded by the enemy, with no where to go but down for a final count.
I can't predict with certainty that this all will play out as I imagine, but experience has taught me that history does have a strange way of repeating itself.

6 Comments:

Blogger imissbill said...

Mike, you write, "But I do know from years of experience that odds are he will be prohibited by law from spending a sizeable portion of his warchest between now and August 3rd." I'm glad you brought this up because I don't know much about campaign spending, and my kids have questions. Just this week they asked if the GOP candidates might blow most of their ad $ for the primary, leaving the winner w/o much to battle Ford, Jr. I didn't have an answer, but I love that, at 10 and 12, they are thinking about such things! Can you help a mama out?

9:27 AM  
Blogger Sean Braisted said...

At the rate of spending now, I don't see how Ford is going to have much Cash on Hand by the end of the primaries. I think that the candidates will be going into the General Election on a relatively even playing field (at least money wise).

12:12 PM  
Blogger tennessee political pulse said...

god love our children (mine are the same ages)...always keeping us on our toes...
there are $$ limits to what can be given by donors to a campaign overall - and those limits include caps for the primary race and the general race...many big donors will max out to a candidate on the front end for both the primary and general...so when corker reports $$ it is a cumulative total -primary and general contributions...$$ raised for the primary can't be spent on the general and vice versa.

6:04 PM  
Blogger imissbill said...

Thank you!

9:52 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

I gotta tell you guys have got a great one in Harold Ford. I saw him speak at the Indiana JJ Dinner and he rocked. Well-spoken, articulate and passionate... he's a keeper. He even gave his tacit endorsement to my man, Sen Bayh's presumptive 2008 presidential bid by volunteering to be his finance chair. Outstanding!

You can read a blow-by-blow of the event at http://www.allamericapac.com/blog

8:18 AM  
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1:21 PM  

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