June 2, 2005

As the 2nd District (OH) Turns: Those Worthless Outsider Endorsements of Bob McEwen

Filed under: OH-02 US House,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:40 am

Previously, I have criticized Paul Weyrich’s endorsement of Bob McEwen here in detail and here for his (Weyrich’s) inconsistency on term limits.

There is a larger topic here, and that is the propriety of such endorsements in a race of this nature. There is a place for outsider endorsements in politics, but this race isn’t it, and I’ll explain why.

Outsider endorsements can pass the smell test in two situations:

  • The first is if there are only a few candidates involved, and there is a clear philosophical divide between those few candidates. The outsider can claim that they know the person they are endorsing and that the endorsee’s positions on the issues are, in his/her opinion, more correct than that of the other candidates. A credible endorsement by an outsider who knows only one candidate cannot be made if there is a very large field, or if the few candidates’ political positions are very similar.
  • Alternatively, the endorser could personally know all of the few candidates running and make their endorsement based on a combination of that knowledge and issue positions (though the next dinner party with those not endorsed would probably be a little chilly).

The outsider endorsements in this race can’t even pass the stench test, let alone either of the above smell tests.

Let’s take it on faith (pun intended) that the out-of-towners listed here (James Dobson, Jack Kemp, Paul Weyrich, Ed Meese, Tony Perkins, and Don Wildmon) all know Bob McEwen very well, think very highly of him, and believe he would make a good, perhaps even great, congressman.

That’s not enough. To conscientiously endorse McEwen in a given race, they have to satisfy themselves that he will be a better congressman than any of the other available alternatives. And they can’t.

For the endorsements of the above gentlemen to be credible in the GOP special election primary coming up on June 14th, the outsiders would need to somehow conclude that McEwen will be better than (in alpha order) Steve Austin, Tom Bemmes, Tom Brinkman, Pat Dewine, Peter Fossett, Eric Minamyer, Douglas Mink, Jeff Morgan, Jean Schmidt, and David Smith. The fact is that at least six of the other candidates have political positions and (where discernible) voting records close to McEwen’s, and on one or two issues a couple of these candidates are further to McEwen’s right, and perhaps more in agreement with the outside endorsers’ positions. To break the ties and near-ties, these gentlemen would therefore have to know each of these candidates personally. No reasonable 2nd District voter can possibly think that McEwen’s endorsers know the other candidates well enough to make an informed judgment about their fitness compared to Bob McEwen.

Since these outsiders are at least by inference endorsing McEwen in the special election on August 2, they need to satisfy themselves that McEwen will be better than every candidate on the Democrat side too. They can defend not endorsing a couple of candidates who don’t agree with them on life and other issues, but that still leaves the possibility that if they bothered to look, they might conclude that Paul Hackett, Charles Sanders, or Jeffrey Sinnard would be better congressmen than McEwen. It is simply not a principled position to automatically ignore all Democrats in the race.

You may say “Wait a minute. 2nd District voters have the same problems in a field so big.” Well, yes, and no. Yes, in that they may never have heard of some of the candidates. But no, because if you live here, follow news and politics, and haven’t heard of them, you can conclude that a candidate you haven’t heard of hasn’t done anything worth noting, even if their positions look good on paper. If you don’t live here, this logic won’t work; you will not have heard of many of the candidates simply because you haven’t been here. The unknown candidates also have a responsibility to figure out how to make themselves known to Second District voters between now and June 14th; that’s why we have campaigns. The unknowns, even if they do a good job of becoming visible, and viable, during the campaign, have no such opportunity to make themselves known to the outsiders, and frankly have no responsibility to do so.

In sum, Bob McEwen’s outsider endorsements have no credibility, and should be, indeed must be, totally, completely, and utterly disregarded.

No matter how well-intended the above gentlemen think they are, the fact is that by pretending to know that which they cannot possibly know, they are corrupting the electoral process in the Second District.

I would go further and contend that a candidate who knows full well the obvious handicaps of these outsider endorsements has no business accepting them in the first place. By wrapping himself around these outsiders, Bob McEwen has given Second District voters all the justification they will ever need to ignore him in the voting booth.
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UPDATE: Blogger WallerStreet notes:

To clarify things, I’m certainly not anti-McEwen, but I am strongly against electing candidates for superficial and flimsy reasons. To cast a ballot based on who McEwen’s friends are would definately (sic) fit into that category.

….I find it most interesting that Jana Widmeyer is calling Schmidt “the leader who epitomizes decency, honesty and integrity,” especially since she used to call Bob McEwen “boss.” (Aside from being a former aide to McEwen, Widmeyer also worked for Mike Dewine and now serves as the Chairman of the Ohio Right To Life PAC.)

Widmeyer’s non-endorsement is more interesting than her endorsement.

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2 Comments

  1. [...] has really been articulated much more efficiently by BizzyBlog.com in an article entitled As the 2nd District (OH) Turns: Those Worthless Outsider Endorsements of Bob McEwen: Let’s take it on faith (p [...]

    Pingback by The Waller Street Journal » Blog Archive » The Endorsement Game — June 2, 2005 @ 4:23 pm

  2. Ohio 2nd District Pro-Life Endorsements

    Bob McEwen receives an endorsement from the Executive Director of Life Issues Institute.

    Trackback by The Political Influentials — June 8, 2005 @ 11:12 am

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