Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Election Day is coming
I haven't been blogging a lot about politics lately. For whatever reason, I'm kinda burnt on it. Plus, the polls say the Dems are going to sweep into Congress and the Senate in a few weeks and I just don't believe it.
I mean, in his Sunday column, Kevin Landrigan of the Nashua Telegraph cited a Becker Institute poll saying that Paul Hodes was in the lead against U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass, 48 to 39, with 13 percent undecided: ["Lynch airs his picks"]. Another poll by Becker also shows U.S. Rep. Jeb Bradley with a lead against Carol Shea-Porter, 49 to 37, with 14 percent undecided. This is kinda shocking considering NH-CD 1 is considered a safe Republican seat. A 12 point lead is pretty safe - but not with 14 percent undecided.
Over the last month or so, I've been wondering about the Hodes campaign. It seems a tad lazy, almost not there in many ways.
I've been wondering about this since I found out that his campaign fired media rep. Michael Shea & Associates last month. Shea is one of the better Boston ad guys who has worked with all the top candidates. He knows the region and he is a hometown guy. According to Shea, he had been working with Hodes for more than two years and then was dropped like a hot potato for a big D.C. firm. Shea wouldn't comment on the record about the situation but you could tell that he was pretty hurt by the whole thing.
Not long after the sacking of Shea, Hodes went on the air with this almost silly TV ad attacking Bass for his Iraq votes, stating "I've got some ocean front property in Arizona to sell you ..." The ads though say nothing about himself or what he would do if elected. Bass quickly cut the ad up into pieces and showed Hodes saying, "We cannot just abandon Iraq ..." while at the same time campaigning to bring the troops home.
The ads were put together by Tom King Communications, an ad firm from Virginia, but they say nothing about Hodes.
Mike Pride, the editor of the Concord Monitor, posted this piece on his blog recently about Hodes' mailers: ["Hodes's folly"]. Mike makes some good points, especially in light of the sarcastic TV ads.
Compare this to Shea-Porter's tenacity in her race, pounding home the issues and standing tall against insurmountable odds. There doesn't seem to be any waivering with her. There doesn't seem to be any sarcasm either.
Lastly, in the wake of the Rep. Mark Foley page/instant message scandal, and Hodes criticism of Bass on the issue, one has to wonder why no one has yet analyzed the lyrics of the Hodes co-penned "Oscar Wilde" opera. The racy opera debuted last spring and I had to heavily edit before airing. The lyric about Wilde lamenting the fact that he couldn't have sex with boys and live like the Romans did would turn just about anyone's stomach.
And yet, here is what Hodes said about the Foley scandal to AP

"Look at it this way, if Mark Foley was a teacher in the school and Dennis Hastert was the principal and the principal learned that the teacher was sending Internet messages to a student, asking for pictures and having the kinds of conversations that were had...what would have happened? There would have been an outcry. There would have been action taken."

Don't get me wrong: I like Paul and it is probably time for Bass to go. While we should fear no art and maybe Wilde did have such thoughts in his head, do we really need to know about them? And why would Hodes work on such an opera a few months before announcing his campaign to run for Congress? These issues and the sarcastic ads which tell us nothing about Hodes, make one wonder if he is the best candidate to replace Bass.


Laura said...

I think it's fascinating how, although Michael Shea is apparently too high-minded to talk about this, this is the second blog post I've seen on rumors about that.

And the Hodes campaign seems lazy? Does that mean you've been living in a cave and they haven't made it into your personal cave? Because they've been everywhere. Getting tons of press - most of it pretty good - constant canvassing, Paul's been at multiple public events every weekend day and lots of weekdays. Sounds like the issue is more that you need to pay some attention before blogging.

Tony said...

Hi Laura,

Thanks for your post. I found out about Michael Shea being let go when I tried to reach someone in the campaign who was handling media buying. Shockingly, numerous emails and calls to the campaign yielded no results - not a call back; not a referral. No a good way to deal with the media, to say the least.

I stand by my impressions, as probably does Mike Pride. I've been watching this campaign and the last campaign pretty thoroughly. I think in 2004, Paul ran a better campaign, and I'm not the only one who feels that way, especially when he finally started talking about specific issues, which took him forever in the last campaign.

In addition, the negativity in the ads says nothing about Paul or what he would do if elected. The ads are lame and trivial. He could've even said, "I have ocean front property to sell you in the White Mountains ..." which would have at least localized it.

Good luck with your work on the campaign and congratulations on your blog.

yankeedoodler said...

"I think in 2004, Paul ran a better campaign."

While we may disagree on the effectiveness of the current campaign (I think it's been incredibly savvy), I'm fairly astounded by that statement.

In 2004 I was heavily political, and I didn't even know how to pronounce Hodes' last name until after election day. Minimal signage, zero mailings, no press. Lynch-Benson and Bush-Kerry dominated.

It's completely different this time around. The press are paying attention, because the campaign has been out there and aggressive.

I have an 8 mile commute on a rural road to my job, and there are now 5 Hodes signs on it. Bass, meanwhile, is missing in action, unless he's apologizing for his staff's sockpuppetry or his slurs against Sanders supporters.

Tony said...

In 2004, I must have seen Paul at about 20 different events in the last two months of the race. This year, I've seen him at one news conference.

But let's just talk about the media angle for a second, which is the whole point of losing a guy like Shea.

In 2004, the campaign did a ton of local radio buys - probably because he had the local ad buyer who knows that radio is, a) a good buy, and b) a hot medium. He spent money with our radio station last year, at $25.88 per spot, although it wasn't a lot of money, only about $362. This time around, I don't hear him on other radio stations at all and he hasn't spent a dime at our radio station and the political rates are between $7.50 and $15, or much lower than 2004!

That is the difference between having a local media buyer who knows the political landscape and how to connect with voters and having a D.C. firm, weighting too heavily on TV, who doesn't know the local political landscape.