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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Why Democrats are helping Havenstein

Telegraph Editorial

Even before Republican candidate for governor Walt Havenstein had gotten his first commercial on the air, Democrats had flooded the media with a litany of Havenstein’s perceived deficiencies, presumed failures and suspected transgressions.

Such tactics would have found little favor with Henry David Thoreau, who argued that individuals are responsible for not becoming agents of injustice. ...

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Even before Republican candidate for governor Walt Havenstein had gotten his first commercial on the air, Democrats had flooded the media with a litany of Havenstein’s perceived deficiencies, presumed failures and suspected transgressions.

Such tactics would have found little favor with Henry David Thoreau, who argued that individuals are responsible for not becoming agents of injustice.

Nevertheless, Democrats usually figure out which of their potential opponents poses the greatest threat to their agenda. They then try to diminish that person’s character in the eyes of voters. It seems Havenstein is their choice this time.

But wait: The other Republican primary candidate, Andrew Hemingway, is practically unnoticed by the media, even though he’s a strong debater who formulates well-reasoned arguments.

Is his isolation an unintended consequence of the clash between ruling-class competitors? Perhaps, but maybe it’s a crafted result, intended to keep grassroots Republicans from choosing a candidate espousing constitutional principles, balanced budgets and lower taxation.

Think about that. Several years ago, this suspicion would have brought ridicule. Not any longer. The recent Mississippi Republican Senate primary runoff race between grassroots challenger Chris McDaniel and incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran justifies such reasoning.

Cochran, the Republican establishment choice, was losing until Democratic yo-yo voters yanked his candidacy out of the political quicksand. Why? Because Democrats see him as easier to defeat in the general election. For establishment Republicans: he’s not a tea party man.

Mississippi has open primaries that allow individuals to change their party affiliation, vote in that party’s primary, and change back again.

To incentivize yo-yo voting, Cochran supporters sent fliers to black, mostly Democratic neighborhoods, implying that McDaniel supports an anti-black agenda. It was crude but successful. Black Democrats yo-yo voted for Cochran. Republican leadership was not unhappy.

The McDaniel campaign insists that many of these votes were illegal. Some had already voted in the Democratic primary held earlier. Unfortunately, proving this is difficult.

Clearly, national Republican Party bosses are willing to use tactics on fellow Republicans they dare not use on Democratic opponents.

So determined are they to prevent conservative views from gaining a foothold in Republican power that they’ll support an establishment loyalist with impaired mental faculties over one that espouses conservative principles – a road to certain election defeat. Maintaining the status quo appears to be more important than winning.

Going to closed-primary elections in which Democrats could vote only for Democrats and Republicans for Republicans, etc., would preclude yo-yo voting, as would requiring undeclared voters to commit to a party for at least a year prior to a primary election date. That would preclude last-minute yo-yo voters from skewing primaries of parties espousing philosophies to which they don’t adhere.

Meanwhile, in the New Hampshire Republican primary, Democratic attack ads have given Walt Havenstein public name-recognition. That may not be good, but it’s not all bad either. Critical attention is better than no attention at all.

Barring any unforeseen changes, Republican primary voters will undoubtedly ignore Democratic attack ads. However, they’ll remember the Havenstein name when they mark their ballots.

That suggests Havenstein will win the primary election with the help of undeclared yo-yo voters. The true threat to Democrats, Andrew Hemingway, who is my choice for governor, will remain largely unknown.

However, if history is any indicator, Havenstein will go on to lose the gubernatorial election to incumbent Gov. Maggie Hassan. That’s because establishment-backed Republicans rarely refute Democratic attacks nor do they give back to Democrats any fire-in-the-belly pugnacity (e.g., John McCain, Mitt Romney).

Havenstein’s first ad exemplified that. It emphasized family relationships rather than specific issues or how he’d differ specifically from Hassan.

Whatever the case, the real losers in this race will be those individuals who are hoping for a non-intrusive, problem-solving government working in the interests of taxpaying residents and where increasing taxation is a last resort. That’s not going to happen under this governor.

While in the legislature, she authored a law that applied the rooms and meals tax to campgrounds that provide neither rooms nor meals. Fortunately, the succeeding Legislature repealed it, but it suggested that Hassan has neither empathy for working people nor any understanding of Henry David Thoreau’s aphorism: “That government is best which governs least.”

Joe Konopka, of Hudson, is a freelance writer. Email him at stonesoldier@live.com.