The last full week of a political campaign is the rally point. Campaign workers and volunteers are exhausted, overwhelmed, and freaked out about the game clock running out. So, as the campaigns enters its week, it’s important to rally the troops. Give the troops a good ol’ Knute Rockne speech. Something you’d hear at halftime from Vince Lombardi. Or you could rally the Fisher troops like Brent Larkin’s column in the Plain Dealer:
But despite his talent, the voters never have really warmed to him. Fisher’s television presence is a problem and his base in Greater Cleveland isn’t especially strong. Indeed, many Democratic activists from Greater Cleveland who have enthusiastically supported Fisher in the past are supporting Brunner this time.
This written on a day in which Jennifer Brunner was campaigning hard in the African-American churches in the Cleveland area.
Fisher has always disputed the notion that he has a problem connecting to voters. But the facts tell a different story.
Fisher cannot understand why people think he has a hard time connecting with voters, it’s never come up once in his auto-dailed town hall meetings in which 90% of the targeted audience hang up before listening to Lee’s message. The only thing more counterproductive to connecting with your audience is a twenty-minute robo call that begins with “I would like to talk to you about Jesus….” to Jewish voters… during the High Holy days.
The fact, Larkin mentions, is the last time Lee was running statewide on his own he got roughly only half the margin he needed in Cuyahoga County that he was expected. That was when Cleveland voters were choosing between Fisher and Bob Taft. And that was in 1998.
Even when trying to sound like a noble caring human being, Larkin notes, Lee cannot help himself.
In 2003, Fisher told me he was done with electoral politics. “I’ve decided I can make a greater impact at this point in my life by remaining in the nonprofit sector,” he said. “And that’s where I intend to stay. That’s why I’m not running in 2006 or any other time.”
Except, of course, three years later, when he became Gov. Ted Strickland’s lieutenant governor. And now.
The one time Lee said something that made him seem human and likeable… he was lying. (And, of course, before then, there were the “rumors” that Fisher was exploring… in 2006 running for Governor again.)
A lack of talent isn’t Fisher’s problem. What has held him back is an all-consuming political ambition that, I suspect, is sometimes so obvious it hurts him with voters.
And how’s this for an ending?
The Lee Fisher who can be a shameless opportunist probably can’t beat Portman. A more genuine Lee Fisher just might.
Lee Fisher can only beat Rob Portman if he stops being a shameless opportunist… we. are. DOOMED. Of course, Larkin ends the column by saying that Fisher will win the primary, but after a column detailing, at length, why Fisher just plain out sucks, it has all the sincerity of Fisher swearing off running for office again. Larkin writes like he cannot understand how keeps turning back up.
Larkin writes like a guy who needed to get something off his chest now or regret meeting his Maker without taking the opportunity. Seriously, Larkin writes as if screaming “Don’t say I didn’t tell ya!” Dear God, do not let Larkin near the Cavs during the playoffs, he’ll just remind them how much they sucked against the Bulls when Michael Jordan played.
And this is what Plain Dealer writes about hometown candidates that they endorse! Imagine what Larkin would have written had the PD endorsed Brunner?
What else can you say about a candidate who attacks his primary opponent for accepting two small donations from low-level employees from Huntington Bank, but accepts tens of thousands from bailed out Bank’s PACs and a maxed out donation from the President of Goldman Sachs while falsely claiming to be the only candidate who favors meaningful Wall Street reform? Either Lee Fisher is such a talented politician that he could sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman wearing white gloves, or these banking executives know that Fisher is not serious about reform. Given Fisher’s inability to sell himself to voters and utter lack of populism in his past, I’m going with the latter.
(The fact is that Brunner endorsed a financial consumer protection agency and much more than Fisher has ever proposed MONTHS before Fisher first mentioned the issue, as Anastasia from Ohio Daily Blog has pointed out.)
Lee Fisher had so discounted the fact that he had a primary that he has spent $2 million dollars but has virtually no campaign presence except in Columbus or Cleveland. Luckily for Fisher, there are absolutely no Democratic voters in rest of Ohio. Either Fisher’s campaign is banking that there’s a massive and yet otherwise unknown Jewish rural, Southern Ohio Democratic cowboy vote, or he just plum forgot that he actually had to win the primary before facing Rob Portman.
Why is Peggy Zone Fisher reportedly grabbing, en masse, every lit piece of Brunner’s she can swipe? Because she’s seen this show before…
During my phone banking for Brunner today, I met the Hamilton County Ward Chair organizing for Brunner. She got one of Sherrod’s best precinct results in 2006 in Hamilton County. I asked her who her counterpart was in Hamilton County for Lee Fisher?
She said nobody. I said, seriously, who is it? Again, she said there wasn’t one. I asked if she knew who’s Fisher paid staff person in Cincinnati was, and she said she doesn’t believe there is one. The only contact information the County Party could get for the campaign to give potential volunteers in Cincinnati was a phone number of a woman in Columbus.
I asked if any of the candidate’s machines or unions were phonebanking for Fisher instead, she said no.
Seriously, think Mike Coleman’s campaign machine is working for Lee Fisher? Or Zack Space? Or Tim Ryan’s? Then think again. Like the SETI Project, I’ve been desperately looking for signs of life out there from the Fisher campaign, but have only heard static in response. What’s the point of these endorsements when the manpower isn’t behind them (or its membership?) Lee Fisher may be the first candidate I’ve ever seen in a multi-million dollar political campaign that has virtually little field staff or presence in the rest of the State.
PZF is in a panic because her husband was preparing for the war he wanted to fight (Portman), and not the one he was actually in (Brunner). He’s a general without an army, who, under seige and being killed for failing to connect to Democratic voters looking for an outsider can only summon more television ads and endorsements by Democratic insiders as a response. It’s like being the captain of the SS Titanic decide to go full steam upon hitting the iceberg.
PZF is in a panic because she sees Brunner everywhere and Lee can only be seen arrogantly breezing through appearances without taking time to meet people or on T.V. while Jennifer Brunner tours their backyard on that goddamned bus.
PZF is in a panic because unlike her husband, she realizes that the Democratic primary will not just permit the newspaper editorial boards and politicians who’ve endorsed her husband to vote.
Lee Fisher is going to underperform in Cuyahoga County. He very well may lose a primary that every pundit has said he had no business keeping competitive.
9 more days.