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Some Campaigns Their Own Worst Enemy

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It’s easy to play Monday Morning Quarterback in political races, but there have certainly been a lot of cases where campaigns have made decisions that don’t make a lot of sense to the outside observer. Two such instances occurred yesterday, one involving Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez and the other involving Democratic Attorney General candidate Fern O’Brien.

Let’s get to Beauprez first. Yesterday his campaign sent out a press release touting support he has received from people who also supported Referendum C. This is a bizarre thing for Beauprez to promote because he has been backpedaling since last fall on charges from Republicans that he didn’t do anything to help defeat Referendum C. This press release will mean absolutely nothing to the casual voter, for whom it is obviously intended, but it will absolutely infuriate active Republicans who opposed Referendum C and watched Beauprez only meekly put up a fight against it. Why send this press release out now? This has the potential to do far more harm than good for Beauprez. Even if the intent was to appease a business community angry at Beauprez for his stance against Referendum C, it’s too late for that to matter anyway; the only people you should be talking to with two weeks to go until Election Day are voters.

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Questionable campaign decisions are a nonpartisan issue, however, which brings us to O’Brien. Yesterday her campaign sent out an email to supporters saying that she has begun airing commercials on 760 AM, which is the home of Air America radio. O’Brien has no money for television ads and can only do radio, but why on earth would you spend your money advertising on a radio channel that caters to active Democrats? I would venture that 95 percent of the people who listen to 760 AM are active Democrats, which means that they were already going to vote for O’Brien. That’s like sending direct mail about your campaign to your mother.

Political campaigns are complex things, and nobody said it was easy to run for public office. But it’s hard enough to deflect attacks from your opponents when you are hurting yourself in the meantime.

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