Why Have the Governors Stopped Campaigning?

 

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 10.12.48 AMWalker has now joined Perry in dropping out of the race for the GOP nomination. And yet, not a single vote has been cast. Not even a notoriously bad-at-predicting-the-final-outcome early primary vote, nor a single caucus. We’ve had a couple of debates that everyone agrees are meaningless to any final result, and there has been a constant drum beat of polls that could mean anything, and about which no one has any tested theory to predict the nomination in many months’ time. But nothing has actually been decided, or is decidable at this point.

Can someone please explain the mechanism by which these serious and intelligent men — surrounded by the best political consultants money can buy and, more importantly, by other sober and intelligent people — have, in the absence of any plausible evidence as to the likely outcome, decided to stand down?

Image Credits: “Gov. Perry CPAC February 2015” by Gage Skidmore . Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons and “Scott Walker AZ Chamber of Commerce 2015” by Gage Skidmore. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons.

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  1. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Because they’ve lost the informal primary — the race for donor support.

    • #1
  2. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    For years we treated President as a next logical step or promotion from governor.

    The jobs are very different and this year’s crop of governors fails to grasp that reality. This year is especially challenging because a vocal minority (card carrying member) wants less federal government and governors are pre-disposed to managing government and doing things.

    Additionally, because they are successful multi-term governors they have lengthy, detailed records that are easily critiqued.

    On what the the proper role of the federal government should be and/or limited government none of them have run strong campaigns.

    Claire’s point is very important also. On the debate stage and campaign trail they are subtle shades of gray apart and the donor class voted early and often for Jeb!.

    • #2
  3. 10 cents Member
    10 cents
    @

    They are realists.

    • #3
  4. jetstream Inactive
    jetstream
    @jetstream

    the best political consultants money can buy

    You already knew the answer, at least an important part of the answer.

    • #4
  5. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    A process like this must generate intense introspection as well.  I wonder if a couple of these folks aren’t simply learning something about themselves.

    • #5
  6. Chris Johnson Inactive
    Chris Johnson
    @user_83937

    In the Perry and Walker cases, neither have ended their campaigns; they have suspended them.  The distinction allows them to continue raising money.  Although I doubt the return of either, they could always return, after the field was thinned and fewer options were available to the donors.  In the meantime, they are merely ending their spending.

    • #6
  7. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: Because they’ve lost the informal primary — the race for donor support.

    So how does this actually work? I can imagine there is a pretty inflexible pool of Big Donors, but have they really irrevocably committed all their funds this early? Why? On what basis? At this stage, remember, Nobody Knows Anything. How does the signal get passed to Camp Perry and Camp Walker that now is the time to throw in the towel.

    (Arrgh! Enough with the sports metaphors! ed)

    • #7
  8. PsychLynne Inactive
    PsychLynne
    @PsychLynne

    I am bummed because I tend to over-weight healthcare in the domestic policy arena and my favorite health policy guy, Avic Roy was on th Perry campaign.

    • #8
  9. Mister Magic Inactive
    Mister Magic
    @MisterMagic

    Victims of the populist fevah, the people didn’t want them..

    • #9
  10. Eustace C. Scrubb Member
    Eustace C. Scrubb
    @EustaceCScrubb

    More than missing a governor, I’m disappointed we won’t have a President without a college degree. The pain that would have caused academics would have been so delightful.

    • #10
  11. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley
    @AmySchley

    BrentB67: For years we treated President as a next logical step or promotion from governor. The jobs are very different and this year’s crop of governors fails to grasp that reality. This year is especially challenging because a vocal minority (card carrying member) wants less federal government and governors are pre-disposed to managing government and doing things.

    I would suggest that the Presidency is more like being a governor that like being a senator or being CEO.  Moreover, the two governors who’ve dropped out were quite good at reducing government involvement.

    This cycle the base has decided they want people who brag about being fighters more than experienced and victorious fighters.

    • #11
  12. Franco Member
    Franco
    @Franco

    Jeb is still in and he was a governor. Which brings me to wonder whether his monopoly on the donor class – the ones who want a moderate adult with exec experience- squeezed them out.
    Imagine how this primary season would have been different had JEB done the noble thing.

    • #12
  13. Jager Coolidge
    Jager
    @Jager

    genferei:

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: Because they’ve lost the informal primary — the race for donor support.

    So how does this actually work? I can imagine there is a pretty inflexible pool of Big Donors, but have they really irrevocably committed all their funds this early? Why? On what basis? At this stage, remember, Nobody Knows Anything. How does the signal get passed to Camp Perry and Camp Walker that now is the time to throw in the towel.

    (Arrgh! Enough with the sports metaphors! ed)

    Remember Perry simply ran out of money. There were stories that he was not able to pay all his staff. That is a big sign that he lost the informal primary.

    I don’t know Walker’s finances but his polling is really bad now, his debates have been so-so. There is nothing that would show bigger donors that he has a path to victory.

    • #13
  14. Mr. Dart Inactive
    Mr. Dart
    @MrDart

    This article lays it out nicely through the lens of a former Walker aide:

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/former-scott-walker-aide-fired-215833904.html

    • #14
  15. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    Amy Schley: This cycle the base has decided they want people who brag about being fighters more than experienced and victorious fighters.

    But “the base” hasn’t actually done anything. No one has actually cast a vote for anyone.

    So, why do people – be they governors, aides, consultants or donors – think they know anything about what will happen in a few months’ time?

    • #15
  16. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    Jager: Remember Perry simply ran out of money. There were stories that he was not able to pay all his staff. That is a big sign that he lost the informal primary.

    But why? Why did donors decide to cut off the flow of funds? Is that how it works? Does the playbook now require such a huge expenditure on campaign staff (why? what do they do now?) that a dip in the rate of fundraising dooms a campaign? How do Gilmore and Pataki keep going?

    • #16
  17. Probable Cause Inactive
    Probable Cause
    @ProbableCause

    The doers have been overshadowed by the talkers.

    People are tired of Republicans who can’t or won’t articulate the Republican message.  GW Bush was an average communicator.  McCain and Romney, both accomplished men, lost to Clint Eastwood’s empty chair.

    • #17
  18. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    genferei: But why? Why did donors decide to cut off the flow of funds? Is that how it works? Does the playbook now require such a huge expenditure on campaign staff (why? what do they do now?) that a dip in the rate of fundraising dooms a campaign? How do Gilmore and Pataki keep going?

    I second that (and don’t forget Jindal). Especially in Walker’s case, it seems like this was the perfect opportunity to do a reboot, get by on a shoestring budget for a while, and then make a comeback.

    It’s just weird and distressing to see two such high-profile, accomplished candidates bow out months before a primary, caucus, or even a damn straw poll. By comparison, Tim Pawlenty was a fighter who never gave up.

    • #18
  19. livingthehighlife Inactive
    livingthehighlife
    @livingthehighlife

    genferei:

    But why? Why did donors decide to cut off the flow of funds? Is that how it works? Does the playbook now require such a huge expenditure on campaign staff (why? what do they do now?) that a dip in the rate of fundraising dooms a campaign? How do Gilmore and Pataki keep going?

    It shouldn’t take that much money, but it sounds like Perry and Walker loaded up with big operations hoping the donor money would match.

    Found this interesting article about the fiscal discipline of Rubio’s campaign:  https://www.yahoo.com/politics/a-thrifty-marco-rubio-is-poised-to-capitalize-on-129618229986.html

    • #19
  20. RyanFalcone Member
    RyanFalcone
    @RyanFalcone

    I remember how excited I was about our “deep bench” and all the strong conservative voices that were going to be reaching out to new prospective conservatives.

    Then, it seemed like anyone with a rich buddy jumped into this thing. I was looking forward to some of those rotters dying on the vine and leaving the stage to the real players. Unfortunately, the opposite has happened.

    In the first Ricochet Poll I voted for Walker as my #1 and Perry as my #2. Now both are gone. There are still several strong folks out there but I have little faith left in this mess. I hadn’t had any excitement regarding Presidential politics ever before and now that energy I had has turned to the greatest disgust since I voted for Perot.

    • #20
  21. jetstream Inactive
    jetstream
    @jetstream

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    genferei: But why? Why did donors decide to cut off the flow of funds? Is that how it works? Does the playbook now require such a huge expenditure on campaign staff (why? what do they do now?) that a dip in the rate of fundraising dooms a campaign? How do Gilmore and Pataki keep going?

    I second that (and don’t forget Jindal). Especially in Walker’s case, it seems like this was the perfect opportunity to do a reboot, get by on a shoestring budget for a while, and then make a comeback.

    It’s just weird and distressing to see two such high-profile, accomplished candidates bow out months before a primary, caucus, or even a damn straw poll. By comparison, Tim Pawlenty was a fighter who never gave up.

    In Rick Perry’s case,  it seemed like he got a My Fair Lady make over from Henry Higgins, political consultants, and they converted him from a tiger to a house cat. Bland is not much of a magnet.

    Didn’t Perry hire some of the same consultants who worked for Romney?

    • #21
  22. Jager Coolidge
    Jager
    @Jager

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: I second that (and don’t forget Jindal). Especially in Walker’s case, it seems like this was the perfect opportunity to do a reboot, get by on a shoestring budget for a while, and then make a comeback.

    I think the problem is that you need a shoestring or the willingness to go into a good amount of personal debt to actually do this.

    Most of the lower polling candidates started out on a shoestring budget. It seems, to me at least, that Walker raised some money and was building a much bigger campaign infrastructure than these other guys. He needed more money. Once the big story is Walker fires most of his staff, there is a good chance that his campaign donations dry up. There is the impression that his campaign is over. While Jindal maintaining a very small staff  is not a story at all.

    • #22
  23. Jager Coolidge
    Jager
    @Jager

    genferei:

    Jager: Remember Perry simply ran out of money. There were stories that he was not able to pay all his staff. That is a big sign that he lost the informal primary.

    But why? Why did donors decide to cut off the flow of funds? Is that how it works? Does the playbook now require such a huge expenditure on campaign staff (why? what do they do now?) that a dip in the rate of fundraising dooms a campaign? How do Gilmore and Pataki keep going?

    Yes that is how the shadow campaign/ informal primary works. Substitute the word donor with the word investor. How much money do you invest in a failing business? ( the polls show Walker started high and has been falling). To continue to invest you need to at least have a believable path forward.  Walker has a good record and is a good Governor. He does not seem to have the personality for this cycle.

    What is there that would leave donors to believe that Walker, who is polling down with Santorum, could turn things around and over come the bigger name  candidates (Rubio, Cruz, Bush)or the outsiders (Trump, Carson, Fiorina). What is the compelling case for Walker? I ask cause Walker has not done a great job of making that case.

    Gilmore and Pataki keep going because they spend little money. All of the bigger campaigns have larger staffs trying to make the case in the States that their guy should win.

    • #23
  24. V the K Member
    V the K
    @VtheK

     surrounded by the best political consultants money can buy and, more importantly, by other sober and intelligent people

    There’s your problem.  Political consultants are both risk-averse and part of the political culture. Instead of encouraging politicians to take bold, consistent stands, they advise caution and messages tailored to offend the minimum number of people while exciting no one. Scott Walker’s wavering stances on illegal immigration were a product of this process. He never presented a clear set of principles and priorities, and no compelling visceral reason to support him. Sure, he had a strong record and background, but campaigns are about the future, not the past.

    • #24
  25. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    10 cents

    They are realists.

    Yes!  They have governed and had to do tough things, things that go against the base.  Except for the governors everyone else is a one term Senator who can just pontificate on positions their base wants or they are non politicians who can take whatever side they want.

    Of the credible Governors only Jeb, Christie, or Huckabee remain.  None of which are liked all that much by the base.

    I for one will continue to support governors.

    • #25
  26. Jager Coolidge
    Jager
    @Jager

    V the K:

    surrounded by the best political consultants money can buy and, more importantly, by other sober and intelligent people

    There’s your problem. Political consultants are both risk-averse and part of the political culture. Instead of encouraging politicians to take bold, consistent stands, they advise caution and messages tailored to offend the minimum number of people while exciting no one. Scott Walker’s wavering stances on illegal immigration were a product of this process. He never presented a clear set of principles and priorities, and no compelling visceral reason to support him. Sure, he had a strong record and background, but campaigns are about the future, not the past.

    I agree with this. In a campaign with Trump being Trump, and Ben Carson filling the role of the nice quite guy, Walker needed to make his own mark and provide a clear reason to think he would do well as President. Bold is necessary because bold is what gets people to pay attention to your message in a very crowded field. Walker did not seem to be able to differentiate himself from the rest of the field.

    Messages tailored to offend few people while exciting no one, just won’t work anymore. The message needs to excite people in the base while reassuring the donors or establishment types that you are a serious adult. If Trump showed anything, being bold on even one issue  (immigration for Trump) can be the spring board for a whole campaign.

    • #26
  27. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    If money is the issue, then where is it going? Trump says he doesn’t need it and is supposedly turning it away. Jeb’s war chest has been established for a while as far as I know. Have the donors simply quit giving until someone starts to look better? Are they waiting until someone makes headway against Trump before they open the spigots? Or, as the conspiracy theorists here would have it, are they just waiting until everyone is gone but Jeb to open the flood gates? Surely his sinking numbers have even his backers worried at this point and looking perhaps for a different horse to back.

    • #27
  28. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I’m disappointed about Walker.

    I have had the privilege of watching my state of Massachusetts be utterly transformed from top to bottom, stem to stern, attic to basement, by two of the best Republican governors our country has ever produced: Bill Weld and Mitt Romney. They did not fight the Democrats. They outsmarted them.

    Walker had the same potential. He clearly had a vision for America: good schools, good roads, low taxes, good security. Prosperity will follow.

    I think the problem is that Perry is favorable toward the present immigration policies, and Walker, being so far north in Wisconsin, did not perceive it to be the problem for Americans that it has turned out to be.

    I had an interesting comment exchange with Professor Paul Rahe several months ago in which I said I saw the upcoming election as being about immigration, that our party was literally split in two on this issue, and that it would be like the election of 1860–we might be looking at a serious and permanent split in the Republican Party because of it. To my surprise, Professor Rahe wrote that he agreed with me about its importance as an issue.

    I do not think the Republican Party is going to come out of this election the way it went in.

    [continued]

    • #28
  29. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    [continued from 28]

    Imagine where the electorate is right now, especially in the northern states like Wisconsin. The southern state governors have themselves been divided on this issue. Whom do you listen to? How bad can it be when some of the southern state governors are themselves okay with present policies?

    Enter the angry American people who last summer were reading daily about the young kids coming over our southern border. Any one of the candidates who had picked this issue and had spoken as forcefully about it as Trump has, would have come out on top. I’ve actually never seen the American people get this riled up about a domestic issue. The angry American people don’t necessarily prefer Trump, anymore than they liked Patton. But you have to go to war with the army you’ve got.

    Few people actually like Trump–he is funny, but he is not likable. He’s a bull in a china shop.

    Adding to the first problem, on the Iran deal, Trump has been right and forceful. And that issue is, as Trump has correctly intuited, the second-most important issue to the American people right now.

    They want immigration managed better, and they want the Iran deal nullified. Trump is the guy who seems to them to understand that.

    The other candidates were running the old-fashioned way: equal emphasis on ten important issues.

    • #29
  30. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    I think each of the Governors that has dropped out (Perry and Walker) are examples of highly specialized professionals. Perry has been and ran so often as Mr. Texas in Texas that he is unable to do anything else. Frankly I found his constant Texas is so great argument to get more and more tiresome as he repeated them. Kind of like being a singer that can only really sing one or two songs well. Walker has run and won 3 elections each in the same state each against the same people. He too I think was too mired in the practices of very specialized campaigns. Just cause you know the ins and outs of Wisconsin does not mean you know jack about the National Stage.

    • #30
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