Monday, March 10, 2008

Sen. Baucus and his magical mystery ad campaign

Both Jack at Western Word and the venerable TMM take note of Sen. Baucus kicking off a major ad campaign.

The Misanthrope asks, "why?"

Jack speculates that it is because it is a year of change, and Baucus has to demonstrate that he is still a good ol' Montana boy.

Our take is different. The filing deadline is March 20th. Rumors float around a Republican who will remain nameles might jump into the Senate race at the last minute.

Baucus, in our opinion, is making sure that just in case anyone more potentially formidable than Lange or Bushman is contemplating getting into this thing, that person is getting a major warning shot across the bow to say: "don't even think about it."


Anonymous said...

The idea that Sen. Baucus is running ads out of fear that he might be facing a real GOP challenge is laughable. If the Montana GOP thought he was vulnerable, he'd be running against Denny Rehberg. While you're asking Rep. Rehberg about that, also ask him why a candidate with little competition would even bother to run ads as he's been doing it for years.

Anyone with half a marketing education, or any idea of how down ticket electoral trends work can also answer your question.

Montana Headlines said...

Um, of course it's about down-ticket benefits. Baucus isn't worried about losing the election.

But the only possible reason for doing an ad campaign this particular week, as opposed to later in the season, is to try to deal a demoralizing early death-blow to an existing or contemplated candidacy.

If he can keep a stronger candidate out of the race, he will have more money to spend on down-ticket efforts later in the season.

And is it just us, or are some really cranky people starting to show up around here these days?

Jay Stevens said...

MH, I think you're exactly right. A few hundred thousand spent now to save millions later...

That and the media has a tendency to judge races by the amount of money the candidates have raised. Vastly outraising your opponent keeps her out of the public eye.

It's a &*^%$$-up system, IMHO.

Montana Headlines said...

I should also have mentioned that it is also Baucus's chance to scare off a primary challenger from the left, just in case one is thinking about it.

I had heard about a contemplated Republican candidacy, so I was thinking in those terms, but given what Baucus has been up to lately, it is at least as likely that he would want to avoid having some ticked off fellow Democrat jumping into the race just to force him to the left.

Given that the R's are showing no signs of mounting an effective campaign against him, there would really be nothing to lose by challenging him in the primary just to make a point.

It really bothers me to see Senators for life who never get challenged seriously because of their big warchests. I agree that it is a screwed up system.

Ironically, campaign contribution limits actually make it harder to challenge these guys. The days when a wealthy but ugly and unelectable guy could identify a strong and attractive but non-wealthy candidate (like you, for instance!) and plow a bunch of bucks to jumpstart his campaign are long over.

Raising millions of dollars in increments of $2300 or less means that you have to have a machine behind you -- i.e. you are an incumbent. The only alternative is someone who is willing to spend their own personal wealth, restricting serious challenges to candidates who are personally wealthy.

Or, there has to be some sort of perfect storm of self-destruction and rising tides (like we saw with Burns.) But career politicians like Baucus who have never done anything else -- well, they simply don't self-destruct.

Jay Stevens said...

I like public-funded elections, personally. But, of course, I would. Heh.