Watching what unfolded last night for the Montgomery County (PA) GOP was akin to suffering through a replay of Monday night’s woeful performance by the Philadelphia Eagles against those Chicago Bears. Just like those inconsistent Birds, the impression I have is one of a team that was thoroughly outplayed by an opponent that simply “wanted it” much, much more.
Not that it was entirely a lost night. Rumor had it (unconfirmed) that both Hatboro and Plymouth Meeting councils were won back by Republican leadership. Our local Horsham Township Council candidates, Greg Nesbitt and Mark McCouch handily won their matchup as rightfully expected. Eileen Behr, a superb candidate for MontCo Sheriff, and Stewart Greenleaf, Jr. – for Controller – were successful in their bids. But aside from these and Nancy Becker’s victory for Recorder of Deeds, the overall contest – much like the Eagles-Bears game – was not nearly as close a performance as the final score might lead one to believe.
Many good GOP candidates went down with the ship.
Now, I have no claim to any formal political training, inside Montgomery County Republican Committee or Brown-Castor strategizing, or even a smidgen of political play-making capability. In continuing with the Eagles analogy, I’m either the center spending half the game looking upside down with his head between his legs, or I’m the rookie guard – a la Danny Watkins – too caught up just trying to get the rudimentary footwork down to fully appreciate the more complicated levels of high stakes political gamesmanship. I just know I’m laying here flat on my back with a bunch of cleat marks up the front of my jersey wondering what-the-sack happened to the game plan!
So take these personal impressions with that perspective in mind …
1. Although I travel regularly through limited areas of eastern Montgomery County, there were certain locales – specifically Huntingdon Valley, Rockledge, and Abington – where little evidence in the way of Brown-Castor presence could be found. Every day for the past two months commuting back and forth from work, I saw a plethora a Shapiro-Richards signage in these areas. The Brown-Castor presence didn’t just fall short; it was completely absent aside from sporadic household displays. In fact, of the several attempts of my own to populate Abington with GOP signage, some were met with REMOVAL of the signs from public grounds. So despite my belief that the powers-to-be had a handle on this important election, I had a gnawing feeling in my gut that things were amiss!
One of my posts from several weeks ago, dealt with the offensive sight of hundreds of Shapiro-Richards signs quite literally LITTERING huge stretches of Cheltenham Avenue and Rt. 422. It was obviously an organized bit of intense labor. And although I harbor no desire to see ANY campaign trashing neighborhoods and highways in this manner, one has to wonder where the GOP response was? (Caveat: I have not been on either road since making that post, so maybe there was a response.)
2. Shapiro-Richards played the negative and dirty games better. From their TV ad portraying Brown-Castor as The Bickersons (The Negative) to drawing the downright hypocritical connect-the-dots picture of Jenny Brown as a Tea Party candidate (The Dirty since Josh Shapiro also met with and could therefore be portrayed as Tea Party-sympathetic.), the Democrats had no problem wading into the muck that played to those tired of Commissioners’ bickering and to their anti-Tea Party core. (I won’t even go into the fact that Shapiro-Richards won on what was a very Tea Party-like platform of limited spending and no tax increases. Oops .. maybe I will mention it.) I saw little pushback – aside from Castor’s complaining of the Tea Party hypocrisy – from the Republican side.
So why was so little made out of Richards’ Whitemarsh stewardship of an 8-fold increase in township debt (from $1.8 to $15 million)?!? Could more have been made of the contradiction between the fiscal promises made by the Democrats as opposed to their actual records on the same subjects?? (The numbers to watch here are $435 million, the current MontCo debt hole. With Richards record of debt accumulation, I predict this hole will grow to $3.5 million by Fiscal Year 2015!)
3. Much theorizing went into the role of “Obama Democrats” in their county registration advantage. Theories suggesting that those Democrats were only motivated by President Obama’s historic run to The White House … that many of them would not return in force for a relatively lower-key local race. Low turnout – it was suggested – would be a boon for Republican hopefuls. We certainly had low turnout in my township (roughly 28-30%). Heck, my polling place didn’t even have a Democrat committee presence until dinner time! Obviously, the Democrats out-performed Republicans in getting out their voters in Democrat-heavy areas. The GOP? Not so much.
That’s enough Wednesday-morning quarterbacking for me. When you lose, it’s either a failure in strategy/leadership or one of performance. So the questions beg …
- Was it long-simmering Castor-itis come home to roost?
- Was the Republican electorate too complacent, disinterested, unmotivated?
- Was the overall economic-political disgust a factor in keeping Republicans and like-minded independents home?
- What can be done to counter the increase in Democrat registrations fleeing Philadelphia?
- Why was there so little evidence of GOP feet-on-the-ground in locales I travelled through near the city?
- To what extent are these problems rooted in the GOP Leadership in those communities and – perhaps – the County as well?
Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned … Had an adverse reaction Monday to “Stop the Tea Party. Stop Jenny Brown” lawn signs I saw that morning while driving to work. The reaction centered around the hypocrisy of a Shapiro campaign making hay from a meeting that duplicated HIS OWN inclination to drink the TEA! Amazingly the signs had disappeared by the time I had driven pass them on the way home that night.
I just really hate losing … especially when I know I’m right.