Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What I Like About Jon Elrod

The show from here on out is all Democratic primary, and that might not be as major as people think given that the DCCC will stay on board for Andre Carson. Whoever emerges from the primary is irrelevant, though, to the future for Jon Elrod, who is officially toast in this race.

If Carson wins the primary, how will Elrod convince anyone to donate again for a fight he already lost? If Carson loses, how will Elrod convince anyone to donate for a fight against a candidate who every Republican will think is BETTER than Carson? I have to imagine Elrod is feeling a bit down.

This is the bad part of the political process. Somebody has to lose, and Elrod is not a bad guy....for a Republican. He was the ONLY Republican who did not sign a petition to get a vote on SJR 7 on gay marriage. That had to make him persona non grata in the Bosma "wedge issue" caravan. That was just a gutsy move. Also, nobody can say the guy doesn't work hard. Knocking on 6,000 doors is no joke.

But the thing I really like about Elrod is that he leaves no stone unturned. I slammed the guy in the Indianapolis Star over a taxpayer-funded General Assembly "look at me pointing while standing at the House podium" puff piece. In fairness, both parties do these mailings, but I'm his constituent, I had his mailer that day, and I gave it to him with both barrels.

The next day after my letter ran, my paralegal told me that Jon Elrod had left a message saying he had "gotten my letter and wanted to meet." Here I was running this guy up on a petard, and he wanted a one-on-one. Gutsy. I met him at Loughmillers, and when I told him I'd been a Democrat all my life, he didn't flinch. We had, in fact, a very candid discussion, and I left thinking that Mr. Elrod is either a very good actor (which could be true, given he was a theater major), OR he is one of those rare guys who isn't really into politics for self-aggrandizement. I daresay I left with respect for the man.

Also, when I think about Elrod, I'm reminded of a story about the late Mississippi Senator John Stennis. He was in a tough race, and he was trailing in the polls. Stennis didn't really trust political consultants, but he agreed to take a meeting with some "D.C. folk." The consultant started telling Stennis, "To win this thing, we've got to go negative on your opponent. To win this thing, we've got to take more D.C. money to finance your campaign. To win this thing, you've got to..." At this point, Senator Stennis said, "Son, we don't got to win this thing."

At the debate, there stood Elrod, the bashed candidate, the victim of TV attacks and mass mailers, a head full of negative information about Carson that could be trotted out. And he wouldn't do it. He could have churned Mr. Carson's Muslim faith, his Farrakhan endorsement, and a variety of campaign snafus as many Republican bloggers have done. But he didn't.

There's something to be said for wanting to win the right way, and Jon Elrod said it best by remaining silent.



Kelly said...

while I'll agree that Elrod had quite a bit of negative information that he could have used to his advantage and didn't... why, in the waning days of the campaign, did he trot out the tired anti-choice and pro-gun mailings instead? I'm really curious as to the thinking behind those mailings. It just doesn't seem like much of a "gutsy" move to me.

Chris Worden said...

I saw those, too. But I'm not sure how it's NOT gutsy to say the same things in the mail that you said during the debate, in particular when it's not popular in your district. Maybe gutsy is the wrong word. My point is that he knew he was going to take a hit on being Pro-Life and "pro gun," but he did it anyway. I disagree with his Pro Life position, but to his credit, he wasn't dancing around it like, say, Mitt Romney or Rudy Guiliani.

jrl said...

Great post. I am a Democrat who has known Elrod for a couple of decades now and I can assure you that it is no act when he stays above party politics. He made a conscience decision to keep dirt out of his campaign and he was the better, classier candidate for it. With Jon, what you see is what you get and I think the 7th made a mistake in not electing him this go around.