Those of you who have read YallPolitics for a long time know that I am pretty traditional about politics. I look at the “blocking and tackling” aspects of politics, and I know beyond of a shadow of a doubt that it’s not always the best people who win political races . . . it’s always the best candidates that win.
The “Tea Party” in the recent congressional primary elections in Mississippi has not acquitted itself very well. Two people who wrapped themselves in the Tea Party banner, Angela McGlowan in the first district and Joe Tegerdine in the fourth district, got soundly whooped. They didn’t get beat because they purported to be a Tea Partier. Both were impossibly outworked and outraised, prima donnas of sorts, and bitterly strident with respect to the other candidates in the Republican Party during the race and after defeat.
Politics is about organization. Many Tea Partiers seem to labor under the illusion that just being “right on the issues” is enough. There seems to be this thought that this righteous indignation is going to create some magic wave of voter discontent that will “throw the bums out”. I am very sympathetic to the core message and the cause of the Tea Party. But just being right on the issues barely gets you to first base in politics. It’s about organization, ideological focus, recruiting great candidates and building resources. They have shown that they can “throw a good party” and get some folks to come out on a regular basis. That’s a good start. They have abjectly failed so far at focus, recruiting good candidates, getting out the vote and building financial resources.
Tea Party movements are different from state to state and city to city. Most seem to be trying to “move the needle” in the Republican party, which is the most kindred spirit and a place where Tea Partiers can have the most influence politically. I agree with that strategy. However, candidates wrapping themselves in the Tea Party flag and expecting magic to happen will continue to result in disappointment unless fundamental change in their organization is made.
The roots of the Republican Party have been traced to people like Wirt Yerger, Jr., and Billy Mounger. The running joke was that the Mississippi Republicans could meet in a telephone booth in the 1950s. It took 25 years of effort to get a US Senator (Cochran). It took 40 years to get a Governor (Fordice). Thousands of hours and millions of dollars were invested. The Tea Party has, through technology and a larger sentiment, maybe the opportunity to cut that timeframe down some if it wants to, but it will not automatically get there . . . especially with candidates like McGlowan and Tegerdine as their standard bearers.
Brett Kittredge at Majority in MS continues to do an amazing job of outreach and staying on top of things. He reported on Thursday that former MS-04 Republican candidate Joe Tegerdine was not wholeheartedly endorsing an opponent that beat him by 14 points. That’s unfortunate. Tegerdine always came off like the talented young brat who had great potential, but expected great things and just hadn’t put in the real work to be successful in politics. He confirmed that image to me in his temporary farewell to voters.
Basically, in that speech, he said two things that stood out.
Over the next few weeks I will weigh what I know about the candidates, speak to a few of them, seek Divine guidance, and make a decision as to who I will support. I will not discuss this publicly. I am no longer a candidate or public servant and as such, I do not feel compelled to share my position on the matter. If I ever run for office again, then I will answer if asked.
That sounds pretty snotty and self aggrandizing.
We have worked tirelessly for over a year to reach people and I have no doubt if we had more time, we would have garnered the support we would have needed to win.
That’s basically telling the electorate that “the people made the wrong choice and I don’t respect their decision.”
If anyone needs a textbook example of how to exit a contest gracefully, one need to go back no further than the 2008 Republican primary of 2008 and David Landrum’s endorsement of Gregg Harper. It doesn’t get any better than that. Landrum went “all in” to help Harper and it’s paid dividends for both men and the district.
McGlowan, Tegerdine and all other primary candidates that lost in the primaries lost for a very specific reason. They weren’t the best candidates in those particular races. I know they all worked hard and they should all be applauded for offering themselves for service. But when the people speak, it’s time to listen. Be magnanimous. Be humble. Be an adult. If you really believe your rhetoric (that Obama and Pelosi are THE problem) then you better get behind the only candidate left in the race that has a legitimate shot at attacking that problem – if not for you, then for the betterment of the electorate. That lesson should be crystal clear.
Hopefully, these former candidates’ personal egos and self interests will not get in the way of doing the right thing for the people they were obviously not ready to represent. Particularly in the first district, we’ve seen how that turned out in 2008.