Taking advantage of the third party
Richard Davis only wishes he had this kind of exposure, but it comes from an unconventional source.
Alert reader Jackie Gregory of the Cecil County Patriots, a well-established TEA Party group, sent me a note about a full-color mailing she’d received.
On the front it reads, “Richard Davis may be an outsider, but his ideas for big cuts to government spending fit right in with the Tea Party.”
The back continues in a similar message, concluding with the question, “Richard Davis: Is he too conservative?” (Both .pdf files courtesy of Jackie Gregory.)
In fact, Richard Davis is the Libertarian candidate for the First District seat, and it can be argued that it was his presence on the ballot in 2008 that may have tipped the scale to Frank Kratovil – Davis took 8,873 votes in a contest where Kratovil prevailed by only 2,852. We’ll never know if most of them would have voted for Harris had Davis not been on the ballot, but chances are good Andy may have won. As you may recall Andy didn’t officially concede until the absentee count showed he was too far behind.
So who is the new-found benefactor of the local Libertarian? None other than Chris Van Hollen and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. They paid for this mailing and perhaps another – as Gregory points out:
The purpose of these ads is to confuse voters who are sympathetic to the TEA party, thereby boosting Kratovil’s chances at re-election.
Just look at how cleverly worded this example is. The mailer isn’t going to appeal to someone close to the middle of the political spectrum, but Democrats know as well as the rest of us that there’s a percentage of us who would look at this mailer and perhaps agree that Davis isn’t too conservative without knowing the entirety of his platform. All Kratovil needs to do is peel that small percentage of the vote away to win again.
However, the Maryland Libertarian Party rightfully called Kratovil and his inside-the-Beltway handlers out too:
Recently, a targeted mailing was sent out with a comparison between Dr. (Richard) Davis and one of his opponents, Dr. Andy Harris the Republican Candidate for Congress in the First District. The flyer does not endorse or call for one to vote either way, it just states the positions of the two candidates on a few issues.
However, neither the Maryland Libertarian Party nor Dr. Davis’ campaign had any involvement or prior knowledge of this mailing and both entities do not support, encourage or endorse this type of activity.
The only items that Dr. Davis has incurred for his campaign have come out of his own “pocket” for gas and a few brochures. He has accepted two in-kind contributions, one for the purchase of the domain for his website, www.davis4congress.com and another for video production for the internet on some key issues, both from Muir Boda.
The only expenditure that The Libertarian Party of Maryland has put towards his campaign is that of a radio ad that has included all 7 Libertarian Congressional Candidates in Maryland. This was paid out our FEC account, approved by the Executive Board and the Central Committee of the Maryland Libertarian Party and has the proper authority line in the message.
The Maryland Libertarian Party is proud of the campaign that Dr. Davis has run in this election and we will not stand idly by when his integrity is questioned.
To answer the question, Muir Boda handles media for the MLP.
Jackie also adds anecdotal evidence why this tactic may be employed by Kratovil and his special interest buddies:
This is being done all across the country in an attempt to take votes away from conservative candidates who are in close competition with their Democratic counterparts. Recently, a poll in our district was conducted which showed high favorability ratings of the TEA party among likely voters. When I was doorknocking a couple of weeks ago, one thing that struck me was the overwhelmingly positive response I received when we mentioned the TEA party. For every one of us that actually stays directly involved or connected to the TEA party, there are several others who sympathize with the movement and watch from a distance. This mailer is directed at those people and it’s goal is to siphon votes away from Andy Harris and give them to the Libertarian candidate; if successful, we will end up with 2 more years of Frank Kratovil.
Obviously there are a certain number of people who agree with what Richard Davis has to say, and others may have voted for him last time around as a protest to the supposedly abrasive campaign Andy Harris ran in the 2008 primary.
This is an example of the conundrum which has faced TEA Party activists across the country when the idea of a third party is discussed – in this case a legitimate third party spoiler could help keep a liberal in Congress. Elsewhere Democrats have run shadow candidates under the TEA Party banner in hopes of eroding support of true conservative candidates and maintaining their hold on power. Even a liberal bastion like the New York Times admits this.
But a vote for Davis is a vote for Kratovil. I have all the respect in the world for the Libertarian Party and agree with them on a number of issues; however, that is the political reality we live with here.
I’m sure the statist status quo in Washington sent this out to the Shore figuring us uneducated hicks in the sticks would fall for the ruse. In fact, I found the wording of the piece rather condescending and at best a backhanded complement to the candidate it’s supposed to help.
Frank Kratovil fooled us once in 2008 by protraying himself as an “independent”, shame on him. If he fools us again in 2010, it’s shame on us.