I had a chance to chat with Michael Fjetland (who's started a blog about his potential primary challenge to Tom DeLay) on Friday. He's an interesting guy, and I enjoyed the conversation. In talking about what Pete McCloskey has in mind, the basic deal is this - if Fjetland can raise a decent amount of seed money, about $50K or so, McCloskey's group will pony up $500K to help. They're apparently serious about challenging the DeLay wing of the Republican Party - they're supposedly looking at a couple more races (no word on which yet) with the same kind of deal for their chosen insurgent.
Fjetland's task, therefore, is pretty straightforward. If there is an undercurrent of resentment/fatigue/dissatisfaction/whatever with The Hammer, and if he can tap into it for some financial support, then he'll have the wherewithal to make a race out of it next March. It wasn't clear to me that there were any milestones or deadlines for him at this point, so I'll check in later on to see where things stand.
The logic of a primary challenge is simple enough - you don't need as many votes to win. If you believe, as Fjetland does, that it will be very hard to top the 110,000 votes Richard Morrison got in last year's general election, then the thought of aiming for 30,000 votes in a primary is appealing, especially in an open primary state where you can hope to woo independents and the odd Democrat or two. I'm trying to decide what level of turnout would be most favorable for someone like Fjetland. No matter how you define it, the number of disaffected DeLay supporters has to be limited, and that suggests that a lower volume might be better. On the other hand, it's certainly possible that a wide-open Governor's race featuring both Strayhorn and Hutchison might bring a bunch of non-traditional Republicans out to the ballot box, with those people being more likely to consider an alternative to DeLay. That's not something one can control, of course. Coming up with a strategy for this is going to be a bit risky.
One thing that struck me in our meeting was how much agreement the two of us appeared to be in on many issues - the budget deficit, spending on infrastructure, foreign policy, and more. Funny how some things that used to be Republican articles of faith are now firmly Democratic, isn't it? I can't help but think that anyone who'd push the button for Fjetland in March would be open to doing the same for Nick Lampson in November if Fjetland isn't his opponent. Just something to keep in mind.Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 09, 2005 to Election 2006 | TrackBack