SOMEBODY'S a little nervous...
With a noon update on the article
Or "Why you might want to wait for the attack"

I've updated this article after further reflection (and now that I have time to contemplate it while I eat my lunch)

I'm sure I'll be blogging about the rest of this article once I have time to read it all, but the point I wanted to make before I took off for work this AM, is that "Is it just me, or is Gordon Howie a little nervous about what the Democrats are going to hit him with?"

From this morning's Rapid City Journal (read it all here):
Republican state Rep. Gordon Howie of Rapid City has taken an unusual pre-emptive strike against the mud-slinging attacks he expects during his re-election campaign later this year.

Howie, a self- professed conservative, said he expects political foes to exploit past mistakes in his personal life in order to beat him in the campaign. He also sees his battle as part of a larger war between liberal and conservative factions wrestling for power in the Republican Party in South Dakota.
First off, In their unusual defense (since I usually give them a major crap) I don't recall the Mainstreamers were going to bring anything up. Secondly, I reported on the blog that his District's Dem's that had a silver bullet to use against a candidate in that district without being specific.

Clearly, he's nervous about something, because he's trying a pre-emptive strike to hold off a primary challenge, ignoring the group (T*h*e D*e*m*o*c*r*a*t*s) who reportedly has a silver bullet issue (and as I noted, they tend to blow up at times)

Strategically, I'm not sure I would agree with his tactics. This attempt only accomplished drawing major attention to the fact he has some issues in his past that "he'd prefer to not see published on the front page." He's not really apologizing for anything (voters sometimes will forgive contrite politicians), but he's just held up a big red sign and said to reporters "if you want to find bad dirt on me, go look ten years ago."

The problem here, and why this attempt at pre-emption was a bad idea, is that without knowing exactly what an opponent was going to hit him with, it's hard to fess up ahead of time. In the article, he's now stated for the record:
“The recent word ‘on the grapevine’ is that the opposition has a real ‘Zinger’ in store for me in the 2006 election,” Howie wrote in the e-mail. “They claim to have unearthed something terrible which they will attempt to resurrect at the most inopportune time.”

Without being specific, Howie said in the e-mail that he had in the past “made many errors of judgment, behaved poorly, and done things which I would not want published on the front page of the newspaper.” But Howie, who recently faced controversy for making an admittedly clumsy comparison between pregnant heifers and pregnant women during a public abortion discussion, said he has made dramatic improvements in his personal life in recent years. Those included going through a rehabilitation program for drug and alcohol abuse and developing his spiritual life.

“If somebody wants to dig that stuff up, let them have at it,” he said. “I had a spiritual transformation years ago. I have been growing, and I believe my character has been developing in a positive way. I don’t expect to reach perfection in this lifetime, but I’m a whole lot better person than I was 20 years ago.”
If he had said nothing, the worst he might have faced is a negative postcard in late October 2006 which he could have branded as scurrilous gutter politics. The danger with doing it now, is that he's making the story.

I read that article, and said to myself "Oh my god." In one e-mail, without any real information having seen the light of day, Gordon has given his opponents and the media a reason to conduct serious research. By refuting something what wasn't in the public eye yet to refute, as a political study, I'd argue he didn't stop something dead in its tracks. In fact, it's the opposite. He very well may have set something in motion he had no desire to give a push to.

And if I was asked, I'd say that what he's brought up is not what was going to be used against him. Nobody - not a political party or candidate - in their right mind is going to make the fact that he was in a rehabilitation program for drug and alcohol abuse ten or twenty years ago the centerpiece of a campaign.

Lots of people undergo troubling times, and if they can beat their demons, more power to them. If any one party or candidate tried to use that against him, I'd say it would be a silver bullet that they could expect to backfire. The thing is, I wouldn't consider the Democrats who are holding on to "the mystery issue" as stupid. I think we can assume they know this as well.

So,was this the issue or not? Who knows? And that leaves us all to wonder what to expect during the campaign season.


Douglas said…
Ah, Howie has just learned something from Bush and Rove.

Turn over something insignificant and then try to kill the messengers who try to tell the whole story...or do as Howie is doing and then use that accusantion of prospective opponent mudslinging as justification for such mudslinging against his opponents...or the opponents of some other GOP candidate.

Ain't paranoia wonderful?
PP said…
At this point, I honestly feel bad for Gordon, despite my giving him a hard time about the stupid "pregnant cow" comment.

His uneasiness over things that might have occurred in the past seems to have overshadowed the fact that he's the incumbent, and for the most part, (especially in West River GOP country) the seat is his to lose.

With the cow comment which I disliked, and now with the rumors floating around on what the Democrats might have on him (emphasis on might) he's capitulating to public opinion too quickly - and it's not doing him any good.

When I was a radio announcer in High School, the person who trained me pointed one thing out that applies to politics as well - "don't be so quick to apologize for your mistakes. Most of the time, people didn't catch it."

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