Consultants who think they are kingmakers
By Michael R Shannon
web posted August 26, 2013
A Virginia consultant no voter ever heard of endorses a candidate for governor nobody really likes and somehow it's on the front page of the Washington Post's Metro section. It reminds me of what Democrats formerly called the ‘Shrum Primary.' That was the jockeying Democrat presidential candidates went through to try and persuade Bob Shrum to join their campaign as lead media consultant and strategist.
It wasn't quite like a barefoot Emperor Henry IV standing in the snow begging the forgiveness of Pope Gregory VII, but it was close. The Shrum spectacle went on for a number of presidential elections until someone noticed (keep in mind Democrats are often blind to the obvious) that Shrum candidates were never called Mr. President after the election.
There is a larger question regarding both of these instances — who cares and how large does your ego have to be to think someone does?
Last week's ‘newsmaker' is Boyd Marcus, described by the Posties as "a veteran Republican political consultant." Marcus is famous as the architect of George Allen's U.S. Senate victory over incumbent senator Tim Kaine last November. At a time when madcap TEA Party candidates were discussing women's private parts or God's plan for rape, ‘mainstream' George Allen was cruising to victory.
Wait, my mistake. That's what Marcus assured us was going to happen after ‘electable' Allen (he can raise money, you know) got the nomination. So when November came around, Marcus and the rest of the Allen brain trust were perched inside the Mitt Romney Momentum Express bus waiting for the acceleration to kick in. They are still waiting.
It's completely in character for Marcus to move from Republican Allen's rerun Senate candidacy to a revenge endorsement of Democrat Terry McAuliffe in this year's Virginia governor's race. Marcus, who formerly only worked in Republican campaigns, says he is proud to endorse McAuliffe because Terry is the only candidate for governor willing to cut him a check.
Whoops, another mistake on my part.
For public consumption Marcus said, "I was looking at the candidates, and I saw Terry McAuliffe as the guy who will work with everybody to get things done." Then McAuliffe wrote him the check. And what a deal! If only endorsements for the Democrat money–man were all a simple financial transaction! McAuliffe wouldn't have to waste time shaking hands and pretending to be interested in what some Virginia hillbilly thinks about the deficit.
The McAuliffe campaign also issued its own bizarre Marcus quote, "I've never before supported any Democrat, but this election Terry is the clear choice for mainstream conservatives." Translation: McAuliffe is the clear choice for self–involved turncoats whose support is for sale.
The real reason Marcus decided to monetize his political sympathies was his candidate for governor in Virginia — Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling — dropped out of the race when Ken Cuccinelli supporters in the Republican Party changed the nomination format from a primary to a convention. This completely upset the Bolling applecart consultants and all.
In spite of the fact Bolling had been light governor for eight years he and Marcus somehow overlooked the importance of building an organization during his two terms. No real connection with the grassroots means no delegates at the convention. So TEA Party fave Cuccinelli walked away with the nomination.
That meant Marcus lacked a meal ticket this fall. Cuccinelli certainly wasn't going to hire him and there were no wealthy Virginia RINOs running for other statewide offices available to aid his cash flow.
An operative with even a shred of integrity would simply sit this one out. What one doesn't do is what Marcus did — sign on with a candidate that is the antithesis of everything for which the Virginia, and for that matter national, Republican Party stands. This is what the average American hates about politics: The mercenaries and their candidates who ‘grow' in office and have infinitely malleable principles.
How many pro–life bills does Marcus think uber–Democrat McAuliffe is going to sign? How many taxes will McAuliffe be willing to cut? How much government intrusion into the free market is McAuliffe going to prevent? And how often will McAuliffe oppose public employee union attempts to put one over on the taxpayer? Will McAuliffe fight Obamacare and the Medicaid expansion? Will McAuliffe be a voice against pressure from the left to legalize illegals?
In a nutshell, none, none, none, never, no and no. The things McAuliffe will get "done" involve abortion, alternate lifestyles, amnesty and helping Hillary gear up for 2016.
The vast majority of Virginia Republicans really believe in the party's platform. They don't change their positions like Marcus changes his socks. Marcus' politics of petulance is one of the many problems with GOP ‘leadership' today.
I know a little about changing political parties. Up until about 2000 I was a Democrat, but as I experienced more of reality and the Democrat party decided to embrace unreality, we drifted apart. I made the change official in the 2002 election and I stopped working for Democrat candidates and limited myself to Republicans.
Switch–hitting in baseball is fine (and leftists would have you believe it makes for an exciting marriage) but in politics it only indicates opportunism and a lack of core beliefs.
It will say a great deal about Marcus if he tries to work for Republicans in the future. And it will say even more about any Republican who hires him. Conservatives beware.
Michael R. Shannon is a public relations and advertising consultant with corporate, government and political experience around the globe. He is a dynamic and entertaining keynote speaker. He can be reached at mandate.mmpr (at) gmail.com. He is also the author of the forthcoming book: "Funny Conservative" Is Not an Oxymoron. (Or any other type of moron.)