Political Animal


October 23, 2012 10:14 AM This Year’s Ballot Joke

By Ed Kilgore

Every election cycle, some national political reporters get the easy assignment of writing up some ludicrous candidate for statewide office who got on the general election ballot by a fluke and is embarrassing his or her alleged comrades on a daily basis. WaPo’s David Fahrenthold dutifully wrote about Tennessee’s Mark Clayton, the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate seat held by Bob Corker. Clayton, an antichoice homophobe (among his many attractive qualities), slithered onto the ballot for the usual alphabetical reason by which nobodies often win nothing-burger primaries. I’m really surprised people like him don’t just change their names to Aaron Aardvark and shake down major parties for money to ensure they don’t run.

The only problem with Fahrenthold’s account is that he turns Clayton’s presence on the ballot into a parable of the Decline and Fall of the Tennessee Democratic Party. No, the Donkey Party is not doing well in the Volunteer State these days. But you find accidential nominees like Clayton in all sorts of random places where the party opposing politically unassailable senators chooses not to recruit a serious candidate who might tempt the powerful incumbent to spend money and actually campaign. I was working for Georgia’s Sam Nunn the last time he faced voters in 1990, and some anonymous itinerant (I honestly can’t remember her name) who’d just moved into the state from Nebraska—indeed, she was living in her car—showed up at the Secretary of State’s office the last day of qualifying to become the GOP nominee to run against Nunn. But then her qualifying check bounced, so she never made the ballot and didn’t get the benefit of an article like Fahrenthold’s for her scrapbook.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on October 23, 2012 10:46 AM:

    Didn't some guy named Bean, or Lean, or Dean, or something, once have a "50 State Strategy?"

    I wonder what happened to that guy and that strategy?

    I guess it worked too well in 2006 and 2008, so we had to go back to the old strategy of only sending money to Democrats who weren't running against Republican incumbents, or were running in Blue state.

    Feckin' idjit's!!!

  • FriscoSF on October 23, 2012 10:52 AM:

    Probably the leading Progressive for District 5 Supervisor in SF is Julian Davis

    It just came out that he likes to put his hands under women's clothes to 'intorduce' himself

    Most of the endorsements he had are being withdrawn

  • Peter C on October 23, 2012 11:32 AM:

    The Texas Democratic Party is similarly in bad shape; the House candidate running in my open district (Ron Paul's seat) is a Lyndon LaRouche 'Democrat' who thinks Obama should be impeached. Up until now, I've lived in fairly safe 'blue' districts; I hate not having a House candidate I can support.

    Personally, I don't think of these people as jokes, but as dirty tricks. My gut tells me that Alvin Greene (the dud who 'beat out' Vic Rawl to run against Jim DeMint in South Carolina) was a successful 'dirty trick'.

  • Andy Hall on October 23, 2012 1:08 PM:

    Peter C, the LaRouchie who's running as a (D) is in TX-22, Kesha Rogers, is going for the seat currently held by Pete Olson. The (D) candidate for Ron Paul's seat (TX-14) is Nick Lampson, who represented this area before the district lines were redrawn in 2003.

    That said, Kesha Rogers is a real piece of work. This is her second run for the seat, having now twice won the (D) primary. Here she is (on the right, with the Obama-as-Hitler poster, in 2010. There's a lot of "operation Chaos"-type crossover voting going on there, just to fnck with the local Dems.

  • Peter C on October 23, 2012 1:28 PM:

    Thanks @Andy Hall,

    The lines for this whole area are very confusing, especailly since the courts have said that the new districts were not drawn correctly. I hate the fact that the districts are now defacto established; I don't believe that they will be changed despite the court ruling.

    I showed up at the polls during the primary expecting to vote for Lampson, and luckily I'd also looked at Rogers and George, so I voted for the person who better represents my views. I think I'll write in George this time around, and start building a pocket of sanity for next time. At least, I'll ensure that the voters in my precinct know ahead of time what their primary and general election options are. I think this is a case of having to become the Democratic Party in my locality.

  • Karen on October 23, 2012 1:58 PM:

    Peter C, I live in the suburbs of indigo Austin and still fell your pain. I also miss the 50 state strategy. Do you know how close they CDMA in 2008? How many gains we made, only to see all of it and more lost in '10, leaving us stuck with crazies in charge of redistricting. Can. We get some help down here, guys? A few thousand votes in Tarrant County and all Texas' urban areas are blue. Persuade some suburban women, and the whole state is blue. Take Texas out of the R column and never worry about a Republican president again.

  • Peter C on October 23, 2012 2:32 PM:

    Go, Karen, GO! You work on Tarrant County, I'll work on Fort Bend and we'll see what we can do.

    I'm thinking we've got to build a coalition around Julian Castro and his brother. That would get Texas' demographics working on our side.

  • Howie on October 25, 2012 12:15 PM:

    Didn't some guy named Bean, or Lean, or Dean, or something, once have a "50 State Strategy?"

    Sure, but it doesn't matter for stopping all and any outliner candidates like Clayton. 2008 produced the South Carolina Democratic candidate Bob Conley -- a kind of John Bircher figure.

    It's a big country, with lots of elections, and lots of primary elections that don't add up to anything. We'll end up with candidates like this here and there. They'll be embarrassing, and won't speak well of the party situation in different locales, but shouldn't be dwelled on.