Update: Tim Donner responded and I posted a new write up on his response. Please take time to visit here and read it.
The Republican contenders for the US Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Jim Webb are many. The seat’s previous occupant George Allen is considered the front runner by most. Other candidates are former Richmond TEA Party head Jamie Radtke, Virginia Beach Attorney David McCormick and Bishop Earl Jackson of Chesapeake. And there are rumblings that others such as Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall and Prince William Supervisor Corey Stewart may enter the race.
And the latest entry into the pack is Northern Virginia Businessman Tim Donner who made the leap into the race very recently, I received the press release on April 25, 2011 and it was embargoed until 10:00 AM on the 26th.
Now, as a blogger, we try to gather as much information on the various candidates as we can and put it out there to help people get to know who is running. But most bloggers also have day jobs, so we dedicate our evenings and weekends driving to different events, meeting candidates and giving our impressions and views of these encounters.
And the great thing about political blogs is that nearly everyone who delves into the political blogosphere votes. And a large percentage of readers are also primary voters, who are the only ones the Republican Senate candidates need to reach at this point. If they don’t make the primary cut, they are finished for the political season as a Republican.
Primary voters tend to be very active politically and far more engaged than the “ordinary” voter. They read blogs, attend events, and often volunteer to help a candidate who really impresses them. And these are the voters any potential candidate must have in order to win the primary and make it to the general election in November.
At most, one would expect candidates to reach out to local bloggers as a good way to reach the most engaged voters. And they do. Hardly a day goes by that we do not receive some communication from the candidates. And this early into the race, I can already say that both the Allen and Radtke campaigns have been quick to respond personally to my questions by email and by phone. My fellow blogger Sandy Sanders has been in contact with David McCormick.
The two most recent entries into the contest, Jackson and Donner, are on Virginia Right!’s “to do” list. Like I said, most of us have day jobs.
So, yesterday, I was a bit shocked to see an email from Tim Donner attacking Bearing Drift, the top conservative blog in Virginia.
Conservative bloggers, usually the bellweather for Republican primaries all over the country, have started to recognize that the fight for the Republican nomination for the open U.S. Senate seat here is not the slamdunk the mainstream media would have you think it is.
This morning, the conservative blog, Sara for America, hammered home that very point in her post this morning. She stated, “Wondering why so little attention given to a viable candidate, to date. Perhaps it’s his lack of name recognition, but a blog about GOP politics kind of has a duty to help with that. Could it be that Donner is viewed as someone who could potentially pose a threat to Allen? BD [Bearing Drift] is known as a blog that favors the establishment. Donner – unlike the rest of the field – is able to self fund his campaign, has a real resume and no baggage (except for lack of legislative experience). He’s certainly very articulate and able to defend his policy positions in depth.”
So three weeks into the race, before the ink has even dried on his election paperwork Tim Donner feels neglected?
Let me just say a word about Bearing Drift and the Virginia blogosphere in general. Bearing Drift has a team of dedicated and talented writers who are more politically savvy than most politicians. They have a long and distinguished track record of covering Virginia politics that exceeds the combined efforts of Virginia’s “Mainstream” Media, in my opinion. Bearing Drift has managed to resurrect journalistic integrity that disappeared from Newspapers and Television years ago. I know most, if not all, of the writers at Bearing Drift and consider them respected and esteemed colleagues. But more than that, I consider them friends.
Bearing Drift hardly needs defending. Their work speaks for itself.
Sara’s blog is free to take pot shots at whomever she pleases. While I do not agree with her characterization of Bearing Drift as a blog that favors the establishment, if that is her opinion, so be it.
But for a candidate for US Senate to send an email three weeks into a campaign calling out one of their best potential outlets to reach primary voters, that can only be considered a serious lapse of good judgement. And alienating media and (potentially) voters a sure fire way to end end a campaign before it gets off of the starting blocks.
And even though I thought the email was a blunder, as I said, the Donner campaign was already on my “to do” list. As “Sara” stated, it is more or less a duty. Well, more a goal than duty.
So I replied to the email and offered:
If Mr. Donner would like to do a “meet the candidate” video interview I would be happy to do so.
What could be better than that? Questions on the issues and an opportunity get your message out. On Virginia Right! On YouTube. Free! I even offered to drive up to Northern Virginia if he was not planning to be in Central Virginia anytime soon. So, I clicked “send” and awaited the reply.
And the reply arrived in a few minutes:
Dear Fellow Conservative:
My name is Tim Donner and I am running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Jim Webb.
I’d like to take just a few minutes to introduce myself to you.
I am a small businessman and Founder and President of One Generation Away, a free market education, research and public policy organization. I am also the Founder and Executive Director of Horizons Television, Inc., a media production company primarily serving the non-profit community…
Great. An auto responder. Mr. Donner is not even reading his email, but lets a machine speak for him. Well, at least it’s not a teleprompter. I hope.
Donner seems to think his lack of experience as a politician is a good thing. But if you ignore your constituents when you are seeking office, how much response can we expect if you are elected?
Perhaps Donner needs to look closer at the advice he is receiving from his consultants. The sooner he figures out that alienating potential allies and letting robots do his talking is a political career limiting move the better. Campaigning is about reaching out to people. Getting people to like you so they will want to vote for you.
I hope Tim Donner figures this out soon, or he is wasting his money and Virginia’s time.
Right now, this is a campaign stuck on stupid.