I get that that group of people – sadly a much too small group – is not the same as We the People of southwest Florida. I get that to win an election you have to know who’s going to vote and target them specifically. The ability to do so – or act like you can – has put real money and political clout in some local pockets.
So vote for the tall one. Vote for the woman. Vote for the short one. Vote for the one with glasses.
Judging by the non-debate I was chump enough to watch on my laptop the other day it doesn’t matter.
You see these candidates – or their ‘people’ – understand the electorate. They know that in a special Republican primary election, held in an off month in an off year, perhaps 50,000 people will actually cast ballots. Maybe. Maybe fewer.
They know that there are four candidates on the ballot, and that all four will get at least a few votes.
So. The person who will be our next representative in Congress could get fewer than 15,000 votes.
Don’t laugh. The next guy’s predecessor Trey Radel won the Republican primary in 2012 with 22,284 votes. A panicked party hierarchy, sensing disaster, did everything it could to keep Radel away from Washington, but a 6-way split in a closed primary spat out the candidate who promised most loudly that he hated the current president more than the rest, that showed himself to be the most intransigent, the most vitriolic. That swore that he would personally slay the Obamacare dragon. In short that he was more the conservative caricature than the rest.
That was in a regularly-scheduled Republican primary. An election with other local seats hanging in the balance. In short an election in which voters could reasonably be expected to participate.
Not so this one. This one is a stand-alone scheduled for April 22.
And let us make no mistake about it. This is southwest Florida. Whoever wins the Republican primary will be our next representative. The last time a non-Republican was elected to a county-wide office in Lee County was 1988. Collier is even more Republican and even more conservative. I have nothing against Democrats, Libertarians, Independents, candidates without party, write-ins or anyone else who wants to make the effort, but here they don’t win.
When Radel inevitably spun in national pundits speaking gleefully about one more Florida political joke loved repeating the fact that Radel won with 62 percent of the vote, implying the people of the district were obvious idiots. Rubes.
In so doing they exposed their complete lack of knowledge of southwest Florida’s political landscape. Radel faced a Democrat and an Independent in November, that’s true, and the Democrat was by far the most qualified candidate.
But he was a Democrat. He was doomed.
So when the tall guy, the woman, the short one and the guy with the glasses take turns saying how much they hate Barack Obama and how quickly they will gut the Affordable Care Act, when they preach to the choir against the evils of entitlements and government overreach while railing against medical marijuana and supporting continuing federal flood insurance subsidies (huh?) it comes as no surprise.
They know what plays. They know what those people who are involved enough, excited enough, motivated enough to go to the polls in a closed Republican primary in a weird month in an off year – the electorate, remember? – want to hear. They know that with the vote split four ways they only need to convince 15,000 or so.
It worked for Trey Radel.
Note: Yes, I do know the names of all four of the candidates. I know a heck of a lot more than that about some of them. Most of it I don’t like.