Take a look at the following quotes and see if any of them sound familiar. We’ll number each quote to make it easier to check your answers later.
1) “I’ve not seen anything that is even a semblance of a campaign.”
2) “She’s running an aggressive and low-budget campaign for school board, but she happens to be running for governor.”
3) “Isn’t that sad that Democrats have to spend so much money?…We don’t need as much money as [our opponent] needs because our message is better.”
4) “Winning elections is not about having a lot of money. It’s about having enough money.”
Any one of these quotes could be referencing Republican gubernatorial candidate
Hiedi Heidi Ganahl. Some of them could even apply to the campaign of Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea. In truth, none of them are even about Colorado.
♦ Quote #1 is about Doug Mastriano, the Republican candidate for Governor in Pennsylvania.
♦ Quote #2 is about Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon in Michigan.
♦ Quote #3 is Tudor Dixon herself.
♦ Quote #4 is from Dan Cox, the Republican candidate for Governor in Maryland.
There is a clear theme emerging across the country for Republican candidates running for top-tier statewide offices. These candidates all rely on extreme, divisive rhetoric but have proven to be incapable or uninterested in raising the kind of money that is necessary to get their message out to a majority of voters.
As The New York Times reported earlier this week, Republicans are struggling to compete with their Democratic opponents when it comes to both money and exposure to voters:
Along with Mr. Mastriano in Pennsylvania, Trump-backed candidates for governor in five other states — Arizona, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts and Michigan — have combined to air zero television advertisements since winning their primaries.
Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona, the R.G.A.’s co-chairman, was asked about whether he views Mr. Mastriano as a viable candidate during a question-and-answer session this month at Georgetown University.
“We don’t fund lost causes and we don’t fund landslides,” Mr. Ducey said. “You have to show us something, you have to demonstrate that you can move numbers and you can raise resources.”
Trump has not endorsed Ganahl or O’Dea, but the story is similar in Colorado. O’Dea has been running television ads for several weeks, but his campaign has recently been buying ad time on a day-to-day basis and has no television presence on network TV (O’Dea’s ads are only available on cable television). Ganahl hasn’t run a single television ad, which puts her in the same position as Republican candidates for Governor in Illinois (Darren Bailey), Massachusetts (Geoff Diehl), Maryland (Cox), and Pennsylvania (Mastriano).
As The Denver Post reported a few weeks ago, it’s not just Ganahl who is struggling to find enough money to reach out to voters in Colorado: None of the statewide Republican candidates (for Attorney General, State Treasurer, or Secretary of State) have the resources to do much more than complain on social media. This has been an issue for Colorado Republicans throughout the 2022 election cycle.
But Governor is a much more important office, and here Ganahl’s financial problems mirror Republicans in other states. At the end of August in Maryland, Dan Cox had been outraised by Democrat Wes Moore by a 10-to-1 margin, ending the fundraising period with all of $130,000 in the bank. Ganahl concluded the fundraising period that ended on Sept. 6 with $188,000 cash-on-hand.
The similarities with many of these MAGA Republicans make their campaign strategies look oddly intentional. Take a look at what Chris Cillizza of CNN recently wrote about Mastriano in Pennsylvania:
Mastriano is running one of the most unorthodox campaigns ever in such a high-profile race. He has not run a single television ad in the general election. He doesn’t do interviews with mainstream media, choosing instead to deal with conservative media outlets.
It’s eerie how similar that is to the Ganahl campaign in Colorado. Up until the week before the June 28th Primary Election, Ganahl hadn’t conducted a single interview with a mainstream media outlet anywhere in the state since her Sept. 2021 campaign kickoff.
It’s not just a lack of fundraising or television advertising where you can find similarities between Ganahl and other MAGA Republican candidates. The Washington Post recently ran a story wondering if Republican gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey could get elected in Illinois after spending so much of his time and rhetoric bashing Chicago as a “crime-ridden, corrupt, dysfunctional hellhole.”
Like many MAGA Republican candidates, Ganahl is running essentially the same General Election campaign that she ran ahead of the Primary Election.
“When you have candidates who essentially aren’t helping themselves by staking out either extreme positions or extreme positions on weird issues that only speak to a real core Trump part of the base, it’s not a surprise that there are going to be struggles,” said Republican strategist Doug Heye in a recent interview with The Hill newspaper.
You don’t need to be a rocket surgeon to understand this, so why do Ganahl and other MAGA Republican candidates continue rushing toward the same brick wall? The fact that this strategy seems to be so prevalent among multiple candidates suggests that it is an intentional incompetence at work – like they are doing this on purpose.
If nothing else, what we’re seeing from Republicans in 2022 may be idiocy by osmosis. For example, it makes sense that Joe O’Dea would pick up some strange habits when he spends so much time with MAGA Republicans such as JD Vance (Ohio) and Blake Masters (Arizona). It doesn’t defy logic that this collective weirdness isn’t helping MAGA Republicans get elected.
As GOP pollster Whit Ayres told The Hill newspaper: “People are looking for good judgment and good sense and good decisionmaking out of governors. Anything that casts doubt on the judgment or the common sense of a gubernatorial candidate undermines that candidate’s potential to get elected governor.”
You could say the same thing about candidates for every major political office. Doing the opposite hasn’t been working for Republicans thus far, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to have worked on Nov. 8.
Perhaps these candidates have adopted an alteration to the infamous Qanon slogan: “Where We Go One, We Go All…to Defeat.”