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And Then, It Was Done

Tom PattonAfter all the ads, all the mud, all the charges and allegations and revelations and… hmmm… was there talk about issues? Yes, there was even some of that.

It’s over.

I doubt there will be a lot of money poured into trying to convince people to go to the polls in a month and write in a name to beat John Thrasher. Congratulations, Mr. Speaker.

But what, if anything, did we learn from this campaign? We learned that, for good or bad, negative campaigning has perhaps a permanent place in elections. Perhaps more so than ever because it doesn’t have to come from an actual candidate. Outside organizations who want to influence an election can come in and spend unlimited amounts of money with very little accountability and lob grenades into the process, while the candidate remains above the fray.

Of course, there was more negative advertising thrown at John Thrasher than anyone else, and he emerged the top candidate in the race.

Which may lead to a second conclusion, or at least theory. Big-name endorsements count for something. Mr. Thasher had the backing of two of the regions’ best known names, Jeb Bush and Ander Crenshaw. And no matter how badly he might have wanted it, Ronald Reagan couldn’t rise up and say “well… I think you should vote for Dan Quiggle.” But Bush and Crenshaw could both speak up for the Speaker, and be credible and believable, and both are very well liked and respected in the district.

Certainly, Mr. Thasher is an effective campaigner. He has a solid grasp of the issues, and can articulate his positions on them well. But he also brought a lot of money to the table. The last available report from the state shows that Mr. Thrasher raised almost $623,000 for the race. Art Graham raised about $191,000, Dan Quiggle brought in about $189,000, and Stan Jordan just over $114,000. So a message that clearly resonated with voters, and the money to push that message, proved to be an unstoppable juggernaut.

I recall a conversation I had with John McCain back in 1999, the first time he ran for President. He was ostensibly on a book tour with “Faith of My Fathers”, which was very good. Yes, I have my signed copy, and yes, I read it. In public broadcasting we tended to read the books of authors we interviewed. Anyway, McCain was just beginning his first Presidential bid, and the McCain/Feingold campaign finance law had not yet been passed. I asked him what made him think his bill was different. After all, the rules in place before McCain/Feingold had been put in place during the post-Watergate era to “clean up” the money problems in campaigns. He told me, and I’ll never forget this, that money in elections was like water. It will find its way in through whatever crack it could find, and he said there was every probability that we could be having the same conversation 20 years hence. Well, it’s only been 10, and the crack it appears to have found is the 527.

But now, with the race over for all practical purposes but the swearing in, it’s time to wish Mr. Thrasher well and hope he’s able to do those things for the district that he discussed during the campaign: bring jobs, stabilize the economy, cut waste and improve education.

And no, my guy didn’t win. But in a four-candidate race, there was going to be a lot of that. I think Art Graham can be proud of the campaign he ran, which doesn’t make the outcome any easier to take, particularly for the candidate, but it is what it is.


On this week’s edition of “The Jacksonville Observer Radio Show” Austin Cassidy and I will be discussing the election results, and then I’ll talk with Former New Hampshire Senator and Presidential Candidate Bob Smith, who is now running in the race for the U.S. Senate seat currently being kept warm by Senator George LeMieux.

Finally, Richard Miller and I will parse the Jaguars opening day loss to Indianapolis, and see what else is up in sports. Wednesday afternoon at 5pm on ABC 1320, and 103.7FM, WBOB.

I hope you’ll tune in.

3 Responses »

  1. This is a re-post from another article. I'm not spaming, but I am concerned about this tactic:

    One practice that concerned me was the practice of calling registered voters to push a candidate several times in one evening, including calls after acceptable evening hours. The idea was to irritate the voter to the point that he would vote against the name mentioned in the call. This is despicable.

    If this was one Republican using this tactic against another, I'm of the opinion that the REC should take action against the candidate, and REC member responsible. If an outside group is responsible, the States Attorneys office should investigate, and prosecute for any applicable crimes, including misdemeanors or felonies.

    This practice was short-sighted, and could cause damage to the GOP label in up coming elections. I would like to see signed statements by all the candidates involved repudiating this tactic. If one of them is later identified as the responsible campaign, there should be ramifications for their chicanery, and their dishonesty.

  2. The result has to be especially distasteful for Mr. Graham. His City Council seat is about to go to a candidate who won that special election while facing credible charges of violating Florida's real estate laws, pocketing real-estate "consulting" fees from a constituent with city business, and then lying about it under oath right up until confronted with the evidence. We sure ought to be able to come up with better candidates for public office.

  3. It was pretty creepy to get spammed by so much mail during these last few weeks, especially considering that they were coming from organizations with names that were about as generic as you could get. You could substitue one name for another & the mail piece would be the exact same & come from the same people. We don't know who was actually behind it & by the time the tax records are known, very few will actually care or remember.

    Of course, the only positive pieces came from those who were running in the actual race. The no-name shadow groups had nothing good to say at all.