Saturday, June 14, 2008

Michael Lange to run as write-in candidate

There has been plenty of talk about it, but the rumor-mill had reached a point where it was clear that Michael Lange, who garnered the most votes of the "real Republicans' in the Republican primary won by Bob Kelleher, was indeed going to run as a write-in candidate for the U.S. Senate, and would probably make an announcement to that effect this weekend.

And he did.

Even under the best of circumstances, write-in candidacies are a long-shot, and these aren't the best of circumstances. Short of a situation where Bob Kelleher takes votes from Max Baucus's left and where Sen. Baucus simultaneously is found to have some serious scandal, Lange doesn't have a prayer. Of course, in a year like this, who knows?

Patty Lovaas, who came in a distant 4th in the primary, is trying a different approach, planning to try to get on the ballot as an independent, even though Montana law is clear that she cannot. She plans to challenge that law in court. Sorry, but the law that states that a party candidate can't turn around and run on the ballot as an independent is a good one, since it prevents an angry primary loser from playing spoiler in the fall. The fact that this year we had a bad result from the perspective of most Republicans isn't a reason to change a good law. As we have stated before, the fundamental reason we are in this situation is that the Montana GOP failed to recruit a strong candidate with good name recognition, low negatives, and the ability to raise reasonable amounts of money (or, better, that the Republicans who fit that bill failed to step forward.) One doesn't change laws because of something like that. And while there are certainly exceptions, in general we Republicans shouldn't be in the business of trying to use the courts to overturn laws we don't like.

Ms. Lovaas, during her brief stint on the GOP candidate speaking circuit, impressed no-one that we have heard from, and the way she is talking about her attempt at an independent run only reinforces the conviction that she was just part of the the six-ring circus of distractions that helped make this problem happen for the GOP in the first place. The best thing that Lovaas can do for the Republican Party in Montana right now is to get out of the way.

There are really only three reasonable options available -- 1. just write off a Senate race that was already unattainable as a practical matter, 2. have Lange, the 2nd place finisher, run a write-in campaign, or 3. have someone come off the bench to run an independent or write-in campaign. If there was anyone willing to do option 3, that person would have run in the primary, so we are really left with 1 and 2. It is hard to say which would be most helpful to the Republican Party.

The Montana GOP will do well to take a neutral approach to Lange's run, neither supporting nor opposing it. There is no way that the GOP can endorse or support Bob Kelleher, the more one learns about him. But neither will it play well to have the GOP endorse or support a write-in candidate when Montana voters, confused as they probably were when they did it, voted for Bob Kelleher. The rules are that the winner of the primary gets the "R" line on the ballot. Period. The state party is not obligated to help Kelleher just because he has the "R" line, but it would seem a little dicey for the official party organization to come out against the person who won the primary. Best just to stay out of the way and let Lange do his thing.

We'll see what kind of a campaign Lange mounts -- if it is one that promotes Republican ideas and doesn't cause injury to the Republican Party, more power to him. His argument that Montanans need a choice is compelling, and Lange is an articulate and tireless campaigner. He should make the race more interesting, and given the other choices available, it wouldn't be surprising if he ends up setting some sort of record for the number of write-in votes cast in a Montana race.


carol said...

Write-in is well nigh impossible. Even if the voter is informed enough to try writing in the name, they often forget to darken the oval too so the effort is wasted.

These people are all nuts. I think you had it right the first time, when you mentioned that there is a vacuum in our leadership where a couple GOP governors should be. At least I think that's what you said..

Anonymous said...

Of the 26,000-ish votes that Kelleher received I would submit that about 20,000 weren't from voters who were confused, but rather from deliberately misguided Ron Paul supporters determined to destroy the Montana Republican party however they could. There was a concerted effort initiated by out-of-state RPers to cause whatever chaos and grief they could. And now they wonder why we're less than thrilled to have them in out midst.

Anonymous said...

I voted for Kelleher and I'm a Ron Paul supporter. I did not vote for him to destroy the Montana GOP. It as well as the NRC are doing an excellent job on their own without additional help. I voted for Kelleher to make the old man's probable last fling at politics a memorable one. Stupid? Not any more stupid than either party's expectation that I'll vote for any of their anointed lesser of two evil jerks. Besides, they also made a joke of the entire election process. As long as the people support who they choose, then a primary works. If not, let's rely on a caucus. Do I hear both? Then there's the delegates topped by the super-delegates. Fixed voting machines come in handy. And then, if all else fails, there's the Electoral College. Oh, I forgot the kings in black, the U.S. Supremes.