Friday, November 24, 2006

Whither Len Munsil

Sorry, I have been out of commission for a while with work obligations. I noticed the Sonoran Alliance post about the state chairman race, and wanted to interject a little commentary.

I had figured that it was unlikely that Symington would make a go of it. I think he still has a couple of years until his political radioactivity diminishes sufficiently, but he will eventually be back at some capacity.

I don't really have a dog in the fight, I like Randy Pullen just fine, but I also wish that another credible challenger will step up because there needs to be a debate. That being said, I hope that Len Munsil is not that alternative.

Don't get me wrong, while it appears that the poster at Sonoran Alliance doesn't think that much of Munsil, I don't have any gripes against him as a person. My only contention is that the Chairmanship should not be a consolation prize for losing, at any level. That goes double when the loss is recent and overwhelming.

Matt Salmon was an interesting experiment, especially as his loss was by a razor thin margin. In retrospect, his service was a failure. Republicans have less influence in the state than when he was appointed, lack a coherent message, and seem disjointed and isolated from each other in support and ideas. That falls at his feet, regardless of outside influences.

Now look at Munsil, he is no Matt Salmon. His campaign for governor was nothing short of a disaster. Quite frankly, there was no reason that the should have had the struggle that he had in dispatching Goldwater, especially with the press coverage that Goldwater was getting (most of it extremely unfair.) He was set up nicely and did not capitalize.

Then, when his chance with Napolitano came, it seemed that he was entirely in reactive mode. Did he really not have a strategy in place outside of winning the primary and stating "But I am a Republican!" If he did, it was lost on me. I would challenge anybody out there (Nathan, I know you are out there somewhere) to succinctly lay out the strategy to me in a succinct manner. Janet was vulnerable in many ways, but in none of the methods used by the Munsil campaign. When the 911 Memorial story started to resonate, it became his entire message. Honestly, did he have something else ready in case this story didn't drop from the air? If he did, shouldn't it have been stronger and something he spent more time on? He had four years to gather material, and didn't look to be prepared at all.

I went and heard Munsil speak several times, he certainly does not lack charisma, nor is he a poor public speaker. I even believe he was a better debater than Janet. I would even go as far to say that if you met both on a street corner with no idea of background or past, Munsil would be the better politician. Politics does not work that way, however. Napolitano was better organized, more on-message, and built a better team. She outworked Munsil at every opportunity, and this is my biggest worry.

The major job of the party chair is to organize a winning team, and there is nothing about Munsil currently that leads me to believe that he can accomplish this at this point.

Len has some work to do, and I believe that he has quite a few natural tools to become the leader that he needs to be. Placing him in such a position right now would not be good for him, or the party at this point.

Let's see what happens come January.


Anonymous said...

Len Munsil’s campaign sucked and thank you for being honest enough to point out that fact. Many conservatives are stuck on what a great person Len is. He has accomplished a lot and his work at CAP was extremely valuable but he stumbled mightily in his first quest for public office. He is not be the right person to head up the Republican Party at this time. Your post laid out the case very well.

sirocco said...

I disagree Munsil is a better debater than Janet, although it's a close call.

Still, you are entirely correct the major problem was the complete disorganization of his campaign. Other than the entire memorial hooplah, I still have no real idea what his agenda was.

It's hard to defeat an incumbant, especially a fairoly popular one (which Napolitano has been), so it's not a shock to lose the race ... but the margin involved was ridiculous. said...

Munsil had many problems that were of his own creating, where Salmon was a victim of many things beyond his own control. Salmon lost for 7 main reasons.

1). Because of moral beliefs and pity for those who choose to waste away entire family fortunes on gambling, Salmon was against the Indian Gaming Initiatives which brought huge numbers of single-issue voters from the tribes out to vote who had never voted before and most likely will never vote again.

2). Because of a lack of familiarity with how bad, immoral, corrupt, stupid, and anti-democratic the so-called “Clean Elections” system is, for every dollar that Matt Salmon raised, Janet Napolitano received matching funds. So, he was raising money for both of them. The problem with fundraising is that it takes a lot of money to put on events to raise money. So, she got more than matched.

3). Talking about money in politics, the third reason why Salmon lost that was beyond his control was this one guy who is an absolute and complete jerk-off named Jim Pederson. I’m not sure if any of you would know who he is. Let’s just say that he’s not Arizona’s next US Senator. Well, Pederson put more than $3 million into the coffers of the Racist Party of Arizona (a.k.a. the Democratic Party of Arizona). A great majority of this money was spent on smear attack ads against Matt Salmon.

4). Another jerk named Dick (named appropriately) Mahoney spent most of his campaign attacking Matt Salmon because he is a Mormon. He argued that being a Mormon somehow made Salmon responsible for and answerable to some guy he’d probably never even heard of before named Warren Jeffs. Mahoney showed more than a little bit of religious bigotry against Salmon and about 1 in 16 of Arizona’s residents who at the time of the election shared Salmon’s faith. Mahoney attempted this as a salvo to his horrible campaign of hypocrisy, while at the same time claiming to be an “Independent” who had formerly been Arizona’s Secretary of State as a Democrat. Republican voters seem to be more likely to listen to Independent candidates than entrenched union Democrats. Mahoney is independent like my A$$ is independent!

5). Another reason Salmon lost was the jerk-off named Joe Arpaio, yes I said Joe Arpaio, the grandstanding Sheriff of Maricopa County. Many won’t remember, but Arpaio was under investigation a number of years back by the US Justice Department. The US Attorney for the State of Arizona at the time was a woman who had previously represented Anita Hill in her smear testimony against soon-to-be Justice of the Supreme Court Clarence Thomas. This US Attorney went by the name of Janet Napolitano. Well, Ms. Napolitano was the one who decided that the US government would not press charges in their case of inmate abuse by Mr. Arpaio. She dropped the charges. Arpaio didn’t go to jail. He probably should have. Did letting Mr. Arpaio off-the-hook contain an “I scratch your back; You scratch mine” Deal? We’ll never know, but the suggestion has been made that he made up for it. How did he do that, and what would that have have to do with Matt Salmon and the 2002 Election? Well, in an election where the margin of victory was less than 12,000 votes out of over 1.2 million votes cast, every vote counts. Somehow Napolitano was able to count on the help of Mr. Arpaio to help her get elected. Did Napolitano have called in her favor for not going after Arpaio? Well, whatever the case was, Arpaio a “Republican” actually ran commercials for her. He didn’t endorse her in these commercials, but the damage was done. The commercials with his voice said something like this: “There have been many negative things stated about Janet Napolitano. I want to assure you that I, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, know that these lies are not true.” Arpaio could have easily given Napolitano the little bit that she needed to get over the top. To which lies was he referring? Well, there were none. The only major complaint that I had with Salmon himself was that he was way too nice during the campaign, while he was repeatedly attacked. I already despised Joe Arpaio. But since the 2002 Election, I have realized that he is the slimiest of all Arizona politicians. This might be why he consistently rates as Arizona’s most popular politician too.

6). There was also the problem of RINOs as always. Betsey "the RINO" Beyless got all butt hurt that Salmon beat her and openly campaigned for his lib Dem opponent. Many people believe that this was planned from the beginning. RINOs have always tried to destroy the Republican Party and make it impossible to tell the difference between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party.

7). And last but certainly not least, the anti-Mormon factor played a large part in Salmon’s defeat. I heard things such as “I could vote for a Mormon, but Salmon is just too Mormon." And I even know people who are diehard Republicans who admitted that they did not vote for Salmon specifically because he is a Mormon. It’s funny to see Evangelicals who showed during the election that they hated Mormons more than they hate gays and lesbians. With the bills that our far-left lesbian governor has vetoed and the policies that she supports, I hope that these people are disgusted with themselves for not voting for Matt Salmon. Of course, if you like the far-left lesbian agenda, then you should be happy about voting for Napolitano as well.

Now relating all of this to the 2006 campaign by Len Munsil…

Munsil sucked.

But some of Munsil’s problems were also beyond his control. For instance, the 8 week General Election cycle is way to short to mount a real campaign. We need to push up Arizona’s Primary Election date, so that people have the opportunity to be well introduced to the candidates. Having it in the beginning of September is absurd when Early Ballots go out only weeks later. And it is not fair to the voters.

Also, so-called “Clean Elections” is set up to protect incumbent politicians just like the George W. Bush-McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Law. So, the challenger gets the same amount of money as the incumbent, but the challenger will rarely have the name ID of the incumbent. Munsil really lacked in this category. His name ID was near zero, and he didn’t have the time to change this in any way. This is absolutely where Don Goldwater would have been a better option for Republicans, since all of the top tier candidates decided not to run.

But Munsil also had his own problems. His first problem was that he ran a “Maricopa County only” campaign. Any Republican wishing to win statewide office must hold Maricopa County by a decent margin, but he or she must also hold his or her own weight in Pima County. Regardless of this, Munsil still lost Maricopa County by over 200,000 votes. That is so pathetic. Maybe running a true statewide campaign instead would have helped him out everywhere. Once again, I say this while realizing that the General Election cycle and the limitations of so-called “Clean Elections” make this very difficult. But when Matt Salmon ran, he had a Pima County Steering Committee that he met with every week, and he campaigned in Pima County over 100 times. In fact, Salmon campaigned hard all across the state. Munsil wanted to do everything from outside the party structure. Munsil believed so much that he was some kind of a political genius that he somehow outsmarted himself. He had little to no contact with the leaders of the Pima County Republican Party, and this really hurt him, and made them much less likely to work hard for him. He wanted to do a grassroots campaign, which is fine, but he didn’t take advantage of any of the resources that were already in place to help him win. There was no reason why Munsil had to try and reinvent the wheel. He did not have the problems with the establishment that Graf had locally, statewide, and nationally. Yet Graf still attempted to do his best to work with these people, because he knew that was the way to get things accomplished. And Graf also had a grassroots campaign.

Munsil also had an ego problem. He believed too much that he was some kind of political genius. He needed to get down to reality and remember what Thomas Edison said, “Genius is one per cent inspiration, ninety-nine per cent perspiration.” All of the genius in the world will not make up for a lack of hard work. Of course, that work should have been smart work. This is where he should have dumped Nathan Sproul. He needed a professional, not a snake. I’m not saying that Munsil did not work hard. It was just that most people who were on the ground wanting to help his campaign never had any idea what he was doing. There was a major breakdown in communication between his campaign and the local parties.

Last of all but most importantly and the reason that Munsil’s political future is all but over is because he is the only person ever to have lost a statewide Marriage Amendment banning gay marriage. This may have been something that he could have campaigned upon with vigor, but instead he practically ran away from the Amendment that he wrote. In retrospect, people must realize how dumb it was for him to try and get elected on a multiple-policy platform when he needed to be focusing on getting this important marriage amendment passed by the voters of Arizona. Instead, he left his amateur replacements at CAP to run the Amendment. They ran so poorly that it failed miserably. I got emails weekly from Cathy Harrod, who is the new president of CAP, and I felt that I was at some kind of an Evangelical revival during each email. I have nothing against Evangelicals, but it’s ridiculous to run an amendment like that which will be in front of all voters and not broaden your message of appeal. If Munsil cared about making sure that Arizona banned gay marriage, he should have focused on it. Instead he hoped that he could ride the tide of the amendment into the Statehouse while running away from that same amendment. And the result is that not only did he fail, but the Marriage Amendment failed also. This is beyond shameful, and once again proves the Sproul is incompetent.

Beyond that, I agree that Munsil cannot be the Chair of the Arizona Republican Party. He lacked the ability to work with others, and his abilities as some kind of a master political strategist were more in his own head than in reality. Yes, Matt Salmon was a terrible leader of the State Party as well, but at least he had pretty broad support to go with some remarkable accomplishments.