Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Cornyn Vs. The Big Bad Rich Guys

Well it has finally begun, and really early. Remember just a little while ago when Senator John Cornyn from Texas was saying that he wasn’t interested in what or who the Democrats were talking about running against him? That he wouldn’t even start thinking about a campaign until after the primary, when he knew who he was running against?

Remember that? Here’s a reminder. Three paragraphs from the bottom. Go look, I’ll wait.

Well I guess the electioneering has begun in Cornyn’s camp – 245 days before the primary. Just one week after that article came out, John Nau, Cornyn’s statewide campaign manager sent out a letter to Cornyn’s past supporters.

It starts out all syrupy, stuff that moneybags Republicans lap up, then he strikes for the gold:

“Unfortunately, John appears to have drawn a very wealthy personal injury lawyer – Mikal Watts – as a potential opponent.”

“Reminiscent of Tony Sanchez and 2002, last week Mr. Watts chose to send a message to Democrat (sic) primary opponents. In two checks, he gave and loaned his campaign $3.8 million.”

“And that is the purpose of my letter.”

“Would you send John one of the amounts I’ve mentioned on the enclosed reply by June 30th? With your help, we will send a message about the strength of the team supporting our U.S. Senator John Cornyn.”

“John is a very good man who won a focused, positive 2002 campaign. Inthat effort, John’s campaign raised and spent roughly $15 million. His opponent also spent $15 million and benefited from more than $70 million spent by Tony Sanchez to turn out their base.”

Then it ends with a bunch of saccharine, sweet but not nutritious, praise of Cornyn that really makes you want to hurl.

Analysis? First it isn’t “wealthy guy” or “wealthy Democrat”, it’s “wealthy personal injury lawyer”. Now don’t get me wrong, lawyers are good people to have around when there is trouble. I’m not saying they are bad . . . THEY are. Did you like the swift boat campaign against John Kerry? You’re going to love the one against Watts. I’ll bet they’re already looking in closets and under furniture.

Second, Nau brought up Sanchez’ failure to buy the governorship in 2002. But more importantly, he makes the case that Cornyn’s opponent, Ron Kirk, stood to benefit from Sanchez’ GOTV effort and he still didn’t win. Clearly making the case that, in Texas politics, money doesn’t talk.

So Watts is useful to Cornyn’s campaign right now because he can be used as a lever to pry some cash out of the hands of those on his donor list.

Who do you think John Cornyn’s campaign want to run against in November? With Watts as an opponent, Cornyn can deflect and completely alter the conversation. It won’t be about Cornyn’s pro-Bush/Cheney/Rove voting record, as it should be. It’ll be all of those personal side issues that will take center stage. Republicans are very good at sleight of hand campaigns.

Rick Noriega doesn’t have any of that baggage. This is the guy that John Cornyn doesn’t want to run against, not Watts. I can think of no more eloquent way to put this than the words in Don’s letter that I posted yesterday:

On 9-11:
“While John Cornyn politicized 9-11 for partisan political advantage, Lt. Col. Rick Noriega stared down Afghan war lords and helped train Afghan soldiers to fight the Taliban.”
On immigration:

“…a politically inspired fence is not the answer. While Cornyn tried to use the issue for partisan advantage, Rick has worked on the border and in the legislature to find common ground.”

On Katrina:

“…while George Bush and John Cornyn stood around doing photo ops with FEMA director Michael Brown, Rick Noriega, just back from his tour of duty in Afghanistan, volunteered and served as Incident Commander at George Brown Convention Center, managing the rescue efforts for over 30,000 Katrina evacuees.”

Put Noriega in as Cornyn’s opponent, and the Democrats are in the drivers’ seat, defining the conversation. Put Watts in as Cornyn’s opponent, and Watts will be in a row boat with one oar, surrounded by swift boats.

But you know, I could be wrong about this whole thing.


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