Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Jeff Ward and TeamGOP

I have been lax to comment on some of the embarrassing attempts at spin coming out of TeamGOP in the past month. Perhaps I became too caught up in not attacking Jeff Ward because he has done many good things in the past for conservative efforts and will undoubtedly do many good things in the future. However, some of the junk coming out of TeamGOP lately makes me wonder if Jeff have lost his mind, and they deserve some form of retort.

First of all, Jeff's apparent attempt to make Tipton County his own personal fiefdom by banishing any Republican who does not worship at his alter has no place in either conservative or Republican politics. None. (See here and here.) Unfortunately, this sort of tactic is what passes for conservative politics these days, and one need look no further than Karl Rove's White House for examples. I have received more e-mails from people in and around Tipton County involving meddling by Jeff Ward in the last few months than I can properly convey. Jeff's explanations on TeamGOP have been lacking, in my opinion, but, from what I have been told, he needs to come clean on some of the backroom maneuvers that are going on there. It is a pure shame that there is a power struggle going on amongst Republicans in Tipton County, but it seems that this is a problem that should be worked out amongst the proper parties, not instigated by Jeff Ward or TeamGOP. I am unclear as to what is the root of the problems in Tipton County, but it sounds like a situation that needs fixing. If Jeff would be willing to negotiate a working peace, that would be one thing. Unfortunately, that doesn't sound like what is happening.

Secondly, and most importantly, Jeff seems to have lost perspective over his endorsement of Van Hilleary's floundering campaign. Ever since then, Jeff has gone out of his way to belittle Ed Bryant with one backhanded swipe after another. Now taking shots at a candidate like Ed is certainly Jeff's right. However, doing so by spinning and - with all due respect - outright lying is not the honorable manner that people who hope to lead conservatives in this state should undertake.

Jeff's most recent post is an excellent example. First, Jeff touts the SurveyUSA/WBIR poll. He doesn't address the concerns over the methodology of the poll or the screwy results that the poll yielded (Kurita's and Moder's name recognition can only be described as bizarre). Then Jeff says the following (preserved here for posterity):

"[M]oney and name ID wins elections."

I hate to do this, but you need to remember this, folks. Ideas, issues, ideology, a good man or woman as a candidate, grassroots efforts - these do not win elections in the eyes of Jeff Ward. Jeff then suggests that anyone who disagrees with him should "spend some time at the library or Barnes and Noble." Sorry, Jeff, but I think I'll pass on that one and rely instead on my experience. Of course, if money wins elections as you claim, you might want to consider dumping your candidate, who looks to be bringing up the rear after the most recent financial disclosures.

Jeff then goes on to write about this new mystery poll that the Hilleary campaign leaked which apparently doesn't exist but supposedly came from Democratic sources. Ward, who has attacked the Corker campaign as incompetent from Day One, then cites the Corker campaign's silence as proof that they agree with the fictitious poll, which, of course, has no numbers, margin of error, named candidates, polling administrators, questions, press releases, etc. Could it be, Jeff, that the Corker campaign doesn't feel the need to comment on a poll that wasn't released and apparently has never been administered?

When dealing with clients, they always want to tell me about these stories that are completely outside of the scope of truth. I have to tell them that I am only concerned with what I can prove, not what I cannot. That seems to be what this mystery poll is at this point in time. Perhaps it will be released in the next few days, and we can all pick through the methodology and see if the results hold up under our scrutiny. Until that happens, though, referring to the poll as based in reality - as Jeff Ward, the Hilleary campaign, and Lebanon Democrat Political Editor Clint Brewer have done - is at the heart of foolishness.

Jeff then picks on the Bryant campaign for its release, "Harold Ford, Jr. Trying to Handpick Opponent." On this line of attack, Jeff has a point. I don't understand the Bryant campaign release anymore than Jeff does. It seems based on allegation and not fact. Basically, it looks like a Van Hilleary for Senate press release. I am actually surprised that the Bryant campaign hasn't had more of these type of releases, because staying on the issues and "keeping it real" is exceedingly tough when Brad Todd and Jennifer Coxe (and, sadly, you can add now Jeff Ward's name here) are constantly living in a fantasy where the truth is malleable.

It's at this part of the release that I really get steamed at Jeff. He goes on to write, in bold, the following:

"At least Van Hilleary was on the first string. In 2002 the Chairman of the Republican Senatorial Committee, a fine man named Bill Frist, traveled to a private home to recruit former Governor Lamar Alexander to run for the US Senate for fear of losing the seat to a Democrat when another Republican, Congressman Ed Bryant, who was deemed unviable, was already in the race. Van Hilleary was not a perfect candidate, but at least he was a starter. Ed Bryant rode the bench."

This is nearly word-for-word from Jeff's post from February 6, 2006, in which he made the same allegations. Unfortunately for Jeff, these statements are not true. Here's my problem - in the "Comments" section of Jeff's post (which has to be read and moderated by Jeff in order to be posted), I told Jeff that this was not true. I even volunteered to elaborate in private, because the story Jeff tells did not happen that way. (Mark Green had a bit more in a response to Jeff on TeamGOP from February 7.) In any case, Jeff knows that things didn't go down the way he is telling the story. Yet, Jeff continues to peddle these untruths.

I am disturbed by what has happened over at TeamGOP. I have felt that their organization has filled a necessary niche in our state and federal efforts, a niche that I worry they are drifting away from slowly. I was worried when Jeff endorsed Van, as I posted here:

"I do offer this warning to Jeff - even the best people, when exposed to not-that-great people, are stained. I hope that it's Jeff that rubs off on Van's campaign staff and not the other way around."

Although Van hasn't challenged Jane Fonda to any debates lately, his campaign seems unchanged lately. Can the same be said for Jeff and TeamGOP?

In any case, I am beginning to worry about the intense rhetoric of late. The candidates themselves have been more than cordial when they are face-to-face. Their supporters have not. It certainly is not my intention to have been disrespectful or mean in this post. It would obviously not be in my best interests, both for my future dealings with Jeff and as a potential candidate for Congress in the 1st District.

We need to be better stewards of the conservative movement, ladies and gentlemen. We cannot take the fight to our opponents if we are too busy fighting amongst ourselves.

I don't have any comment on the TeamGOP people -- I don't know any of them -- but this is interesting to me because recently I heard about similar intrigue (not involving the TeamGOP people that I know of, but other proclaimed Republicans) going on in other counties. I think the most bizarre thing I've observed is some Republicans accusing more conservative Republicans of being closet Democrats. It's petty and destructive, particularly when it affects efforts to get bipartisan agreement on critical issues. You know what they say about a house divided against itself.
Often people have suggested to me that I go into politics, not as a candidate but as some sort of adviser/behind-the-scenes activist/organizer.

Crap like this is why I recoil at the thought.
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