Sunday, October 09, 2005

Blogweek Ohio: Brown/Hackett (UPDATED)

The last few days have been dominated by the fallout from Sherrod Brown's redecision to enter the Senate race. The liberal netroots are not amused.

If you are late to the Paul Hackett party, let me reset. Hackett was a noname who beat a bunch of other nonames in a hurryup primary for the special election to replace Rob Portman in OH-2 when Portman was tapped to be US Trade Representative. Hackett, a Marine Major and Iraq war vet, ran a good campaign in a nearly impossible district and came within a couple thousand votes of winning.

The liberal netroots fell hard for Hackett. Remember the Michael Moore/Wesley Clark odd couple? It was like that. Liberal bloggers saw Hackett as the guy who would carry their water but without the peacenik handicap. The level of he-will-take-us-to-the-promised-land rhapsodizing cannot be exagerated. Once Brown and Ryan ducked out of the race, the draft-Hackett movement would accept no substitutes.

So Brown's off-again/on-again campaign has hacked off Hackettonia. For a sample, you can check out to comments to the olive branch offered DailyKos by Brown's web guru Tim Tagaris. A little higher up the web food chain, Swing State Project's Bob Bigham wrote this diatribe against Brown, prompting this return volley from Dave Sirota. And on and on it goes.

Can we grow up and get some perspective here. First, people change their minds about major live decisions. Like giving up a safe House seat for a run at the Senate.

Second, Hackett alone in the race did not ease my sleep. He has barely been in one race. The Oh-2 special election was truncated contest during which nothing else was going on. He got tons of intenet money because he wasn't competing with races over all the House seats, a third of the Senate and about half the governorships. Having Brown in the race is a mind-easing backstop in case Hackett makes some rookie mistake and blows up. Say it with me: Eeeyaaaa!!!!

Third, if Hackett does survive, he will be a better candidate for it. He will have had the opportunity to tell Ohio what he would do as opposed to why Republicans are hopelessly corrupt and we should throw the bums out. I would be surprised to see Brown say anything negative other than to acknowledge Hackett's complete inexperience in government. If Hackett can't come up with a good answer to that in the primary, he doesn't belong in the general.

I like the idea of Senator Brown better than I like the idea of Senator Hackett. I thinks it's probably true that Hackett has an edge in electability. I haven't decided yet who would get my vote. But I'm glad we have a choice.

Edit: In my haste to get this up last night, I omitted some must-read posts from local bloggers. Democracy Guy has a number of takes from different angles including the problem of bloggers paid by political campaigns and questions about Hackett's undisciplined campaign. Callahan express similar "get over it" sentiments about the kvetching of Hackett supporters. Democracy Guy also highlights another potential benefit of Brown's entry: keeping Joel Hyatt out of the race. (Like DG, I worked on Hyatt's '94 campaign and was underwhelmed. In fact I saw him at a Stark County Dem dinner the year after at which he said "I wanted to run for the Senate in the worst possible way and I did just that.")

To give props to the rest, Law Dork drops the same either/or take I had, powertothepeople notes the suggestion from DailyKos that Hackett step aside to take another run at Jean Schmidt in OH-2, and if that's not enough, Licking County PAC notes that a Buckeye Senate Blog has sprung up to give us all Hackett/Brown all the time.

OK, that's more than any sane person should read about one nascent primary contest. So some perspective: one of the many refrains from Hackettonia is that Brown has "divided the Democrats." No, he has divided the left side of the blogosphere. We're freaks. We're even freaks among progressive activists. For example, the SCPD Yahoo Group (members only, so I won't link) has exactly zero discussion about the controversy.

So I will not blog another word about all this.

Well, not today anyway.