Tuesday, June 27, 2006

State of the Campaign - Mike Hellon

The Good- The Rolodex. Politics is all about connections and this is Hellon's strong point. Although he missed out on Kolbe's endorsement, he still has a career's worth of contacts and support in local and national party politics. He probably has just as much campaign experience as the rest of his Primary competition combined. He does have some money and is not afraid to use it if his current as blitz is any indication. He would be in a perfect position to benefit should either Huffman or Graf take a fatal hit. He appears to be in a position to continue to raise more money than Graf, and although he trails in fundraising to Huffman, his grassroots are far stronger.

The Bad- He is kind of stuck in the middle with the Kolbe endorsement going to Steve Huffman and the conservative vote currently slotted to Randy Graf. Although he does have a loyal base within the party, it is not translating into the financial windfall that Huffman is seeing. His strong pro-choice views could be a problem in the primary as it automatically keeps a certain percentage of primary voters from voting for him. It also appears that he is a little guilty of "evolving" views, especially where immigration is concerned. This will leave him open to charges of "flip-flopping." The ex-wife professional relationship is a little strange for those not familiar with it.

What Next- In all honesty, Hellon is going to need a little luck in the form of a Graf or Huffman implosion. The good news is that each of these candidates is capable of this to some point. Should this happen, Hellon might jump into the driver's seat as he has the ability to fill whatever void is created, plus hold his own territory. The best case scenario for Hellon would be for Huffman to go negative and attack Graf relentlessly enough to damage him. Any votes that Graf loses would tend to move to Hellon, and Huffman would lose votes as many possible Huffman votes would be turned off by this. The earlier "leak" about Graf's campaign manager may be an indication that this could happen.

Hellon's current ad blitz seems like a good move at this point. The other candidates look to be saving their resources for closer to the primary, which allows Mike to define himself virtually unopposed. He has used this to move to the right policy wise and include himself into the "enforcement first" category without being formally challenged. It also demonstrates that he is still a player despite his current difficult position.

If I were a part of the campaign, I would certainly make is easier to obtain his touted Border Security Plan. It appears that you have to give up your personal information to read it. If he intends to make this a major part of his platform, it should be much more user friendly. As far as the need to create a plan in the first place, there is a current House bill that is much better known. He would be much better off in the Primaries attaching himself to the specifics of this bill than pushing a homemade one. The Sensenbrenner bill would be voted on after he took office, and is entirely relevant to the debate. It would also better even the playing field with Graf who will support the bill as well.

If Hellon is able to gather enough funding to remain in the race, the debate will certainly be the better for it.

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