Echo Chamber - The Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda Campaign
It pains us to no end every time we see State Rep. Ralph Norman's campaign get manhandled (yet again) by incumbent Fifth District U.S. Rep. John Spratt.
Seriously, what the hell happened to this race?
When Norman announced last year, we thought for sure Spratt's big-spending goose was cooked.
Consider the advantages Norman has enjoyed.
He has the financial and political backing of the Rove (we mean Bush) White House. He has the unanimous, full-throated support of the state Republican establishment and SCGOP Chairman Katon Dawson (which it should be noted he reserves for some Republicans at the expense of others). He's running in a district that's trending Republican (57% of 5th District residents voted to re-elect George W. Bush in 2004) and to top it all off, he's a solid candidate with unimpeachable fiscal conservative credentials.
Norman should be walking away with this seat, which Republicans need to win if they expect to offset losses elsewhere in the country and hang onto the U.S. House of Representatives come 2007.
But that's not what's happening ...
Instead, Spratt is out-hustling, out-thinking, out-fundraising and (most importantly) out-polling Norman, who is relying on a severely-dated campaign strategy and the inept, partisan bullying of Chairman Dawson and Congressman Joe Wilson, among others, who are trying desperately to paint a picture of Spratt as a liberal Washington insider.
The result has hardly been a Monet.
While 5th District voters are focused on real world issues like gas prices, education and their checking accounts, Norman's campaign and Dawson's SCGOP can't seem to break out of their petty, ineffective "inside baseball" mentality, launching a new press release almost every week talking about how Spratt is a "Nancy Pelosi liberal" or calling on him to denounce a controversial national TV ad he had nothing to do with, or demanding that he issue a public apology for calling Congressman Wilson "crazy."
Of course, Joe Wilson IS crazy ... and Spratt deftly "served" Norman's incompetent advisors Jimmy Connors-style by quickly denouncing the ad in question, making the attackers look like political opportunists (which they are) and essentially asking the Norman campaign, "what you got now?"
And as for the confoundingly stupid and electorally irrelevant Nancy Pelosi line of attack (what's her name ID in South Carolina again?), Spratt offered the following shot across the bow in today's Rock Hill Herald:
"When I first ran 22 years ago, my opponent said the first vote I would cast would be for (former Democratic Speaker) Tip O'Neill. They're still playing from that same old playbook. When I'm in Congress and decisions are made, I'll have a seat at the table. If Ralph is there, he'll be on a back bench."
That quote, in a nutshell, is precisely why Spratt will beat Norman like he stole somethin' if things remain as they are.
The truth is that Spratt is a fiscally liberal Washington insider, and Norman represents the perfect small government antidote.
Two years ago, nobody backed Gov. Mark Sanford's principled brand of fiscal conservatism in the South Carolina House of Representatives more aggressively than Norman ... nobody.
Norman supports strong spending limitations like the Taxpayer Empowerment Amendment, supports job-creating income tax cuts for small businesses and working South Carolinians and he's led the fight in the legislature against wasteful, pork barrel spending like it was his job, which come to think of it, it actually is.
But Norman's exemplary tax-cutting, job-creating, smaller government record isn't the core message of his campaign. Instead, it's all cookie-cutter negative, all the time, a cut and paste disaster that wreaks of everything that's wrong with politics today. Worse still, Norman has yet to acknowledge the gravity of his situation and put to pasture these DC and SC morons who are driving the Nancy Pelosi strategy and sending his campaign into a freefall.
Last week, Republican U.S. Senator and Norman ally Jim DeMint was in Rock Hill, the biggest city in the 5th District. After acknowledging his fellow GOP'er Norman would likely go down in defeat if the election were held today (how bad does that tell you Norman's polling numbers are looking), DeMint had the following things to say about Spratt:
"I consider him a friend."
"Spratt is a good guy."
Sounds like what a vast majority of the 5th District is probably thinking to itself after reading Team Norman's litany of amatuer hour attacks.
It's time Ralph Norman ditched the Pelosi-peddlers and started running the campaign he owes not only to the voters of the 5th District, but to himself.
Otherwise, it'll be "coulda, shoulda, woulda" time come November 7 when Spratt wins reelection ... again.