Every election cycle turns out its share of terrible candidates, from out-of-touch hardliners with bizarre policy views, to those who are without a filter or just plain weirdos. It happens all the time, but it is intensified whenever there is a major change in the national political mood like we’re seeing in 2018. In years like this, it is not uncommon to see candidates seeking high-profile public office who really…just shouldn’t.
For example, Jennifer Diffendal.
Diffendal is the newest candidate running for Congress in CD-6. You may not have heard her name because she only entered the race this month as the fourth Democrat seeking to challenge Republican Rep. Mike Coffman. If you are an active Democrat in the Metro Denver area, you may not have heard her name because Diffendal is a former Republican who has only been a registered Democrat in Colorado since March 9, 2017 (which is still considerably longer than her husband, Ed Diffendal, who literally changed his Party affiliation on March 7, 2018).
Diffendal is not going to win the Democratic nomination in CD-6, where Jason Crow is the clear favorite. With petition signatures due at the end of this month and the CD-6 Congressional Assembly on April 12, it’s pretty unlikely that Diffendal will even see her name on the June Primary ballot. The only reason we are even talking about Diffendal is because of a fascinating sidewalk interview someone posted on Facebook (click for Part One and Part Two) that shows why running for a high-profile elected office is a lot more complicated than you might have assumed.
Diffendal recently “campaigned” outside Coffman’s office to talk with a group of women – whom we assume to be Democrats – who have regularly staged demonstrations critical of the Aurora Republican. In the Facebook interviews mentioned earlier, Diffendal uses a lot of words like “community” and “empowerment,” and explains that she is “all about the potluck dinners.” The discussion gets off to a bad start when one woman nearby asks:
“If your thing is supporting women standing on the corner, where have you been? We’ve been out here every single week…for more than a year.”
Diffendal tells these women that she is running for Congress because there needs to be a female candidate in the race, which eventually transitions into this gem of a quote about Crow:
“I just feel like he doesn’t understand what it’s like to be a woman. He has no experience with that.”
Jason Crow is not a woman, nor has he been a woman in the past. Duly noted.
But the star of this particular show is Diffendal’s struggle to respond to a half-dozen iterations of a question about her position on school vouchers. In fact, it is not clear that Diffendal could identify a “voucher” if it bit her in the knee. Here’s that exchange:
WOMAN #1: “What’s your position on school vouchers?”
DIFFENDAL: “I think vouchers can help people. [pause] I didn’t understand you, I’m sorry.”
WOMAN #1: “Do you support vouchers? Do you support diverting public funds to private schools?”
DIFFENDAL: “I support women who are trying to raise their kids in a world that’s full of division.”
WOMAN #1: “That’s not an answer.”
DIFFENDAL: “Because I want to help you. I’m not trying to take away your voice. I want to amplify your voice.”
WOMAN #1: “I didn’t get an answer as to whether or not you support vouchers.”
DIFFENDAL: “I support community [sic] and every kid who deserves an education.”
WOMAN #1: “That’s not an answer. Yes or no, do you support vouchers?”
DIFFENDAL: “I’m sorry, that’s what I believe.”
WOMAN #1: “I didn’t get an answer.”
DIFFENDAL: “I didn’t understand your question. I am so sorry.”
WOMAN #1: “Do you support vouchers? Do you, or do you not, support vouchers?”
DIFFENDAL: “I support community, and I support kids…”
WOMAN #1: “Yes or no? Do you support vouchers?”
The voucher discussion ends abruptly here, because nobody – on either side — seems to know what to say anymore.
Diffendal seems like a perfectly nice person from the Facebook videos we watched. Perhaps she will be a strong candidate for public office someday. But not this day. If you are confused by a question about vouchers, then you just aren’t ready to be running for Congress. Or for anything, really.
It is absolutely a good thing to have more people running for public office – but only so long as they have taken the time to truly prepare for what can be an exhausting, all-consuming slog for months and months on end. Anybody can fill out paperwork to become a candidate for office; nobody is ever impressed by that alone.