By Nate Smith
Washington Times Herald
Like many in the political world, Tuesday’s election was an eye opener for me and gave me insights not just nationally but locally as well. I have several opinions to share, starting with the largest race in Daviess County, the Eighth District race.
When Dave Crooks started talking to me over a year ago about getting into the race, I thought he was nuts. The idea of running for Congress is romantic, but the actual logistics is something different. It’s a lot of rubber chicken dinners, parades, fairs and phone calls upon phone calls.
Not to mention the multi-million dollar operation one has to start, from scratch. I knew if there was anyone who could do it, it was Dave.
And although it was not the night the Crooks family wanted at the Washington Moose, it was still a good fight. According to their internal numbers, (By the way, Congressman Larry Bucshon’s were different) Crooks was gaining on the incumbent and with good turnout, he would have a shot.
Then, the Super PACs came in. A lot has been made on Super PAC money being inconsequential in the presidential race, but in the eighth and similar districts, the ads worked.
I can’t honestly say if the estimated $1 million in Super PAC ads won the election for Bucshon. The Republican said and done the right things with voters and campaigned well. The campaign might not have needed it, but someone in the GOP hierarchy was spooked enough to send funds to the district.
That might be the legacy of the Crooks campaign. The campaign was one of the best funded enterprises, raising $1 million of its own against Bucshon and it came close enough. Bucshon’s convincing win should give future competitors pause and be something he should be proud of.
But some of Bucshon’s contemporaries in the Republican party will have some searching to do. With the Obama coalition amassed for the convincing (Yes, it was convincing.) win over Mitt Romney, the GOP has to really work with those who are not just white and supposedly pay taxes.
And the Tea Party is now dead. Just look at right here and Senate candidate Richard Mourdock. Mourdock is a good friend of Daviess County and has been here several times before he ran for Senate.
He gave it a good shot, but Mourdock shot himself in his own foot with the rape and its intention from God comment. It is comments like these that come from attitudes of non-compromise that doomed Mourdock and the Tea Party.
The Right to Life movement must also take heed. If it wants a further seat at the table, it must move away from these second-tier candidates like Mourdock that will invoke their all-or-nothing mantra and accept compromise on exceptions.
But Mourdock wasn’t the only candidate with local ties to embarrass himself. John Gregg did a pretty good job of that. For some reason, Gregg and his staff thought he was Andy Griffith running for governor and ran commercials about the Blue Bird and his mom’s hair salon. No one remembered the good he has done while speaker or a university president.
All Gregg really had to do was talk about his opponent’s extreme views and he had a shot. Instead, he went to Mayberry. Embarrassing, really.
That leads us back to Crooks. Of all the local politicians to lose on Tuesday, he came off the best.
He fought the good fight and has no regrets. I’m proud of my friend for the job he did.
Someday, I can tell my kids of the campaign my friend made for Congress. How he worked hard, but in the end, didn’t make it.
Of course I’m going to use the line “They were so scared, they had to spend a million dollars to keep him away.”
Nate Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter at NateSmithWTH