Hey everyone! It's four, maybe five, blog posts in one today.
First, I bring you this post from Maryland Matters. It describes a poll which shows a very tight race shaping up for Howard County Executive. In it, you'll see a quote by Allan Kittleman's re-election Campaign Manager, Sean Murphy, who calls the poll "fiction".
I'm not sure what variety of peyote is being grown on the back acre of the Kittleman compound in West Friendship. But for anyone in the AK18 campaign to call the poll "fiction"-- well, they're suspect. As Sparty wrote last week, there may be methodological peculiarities to the data, as is the case with all polls. Or, do we need to rehash all the polls leading to the 2016 Presidential election and how that turned out? But from where this observer sits, the poll's estimation of Ball's and Kittleman's strengths in various demographic groups would seem to just about make sense. The numbers look legit to me.
But not to Mr. Murphy. And of course, Mr. Murphy is a now, longtime participant in the AK18 campaign. And his merry exploits have been chronicled elsewhere in the annals of this blog. For Mr. Murphy was named by this correspondent, long before the nicknaming became a thing, as Flashbulb Sean!
Yes, Sean Murphy, political consultant and would-be maker of kings. And continual harrasser of Courtney Watson, her supporters and her family during the 2014 campaign. Three examples of which-- at the Oakland Mills Fall Festival, and a PTAHC forum at Mt. Hebron High School, and at the Miller Library were all witnessed personally by me. And the forms of harrassment? Yelling from the crowd, setting up his camera and standing so as to block her path, and, the deed which earned Flashbulb his nickname, setting off flashbulbs in the eyes of Ms. Watson and members of her family. Very classy stuff. And he's not a seasonal campaign worker, either; I have at least 10 emails from the AK18 campaign since 2015, solicitations for funding signed by, "Sean Murphy, Campaign Manager".
So, when people think of the AK18 campaign, they think of people like Michael Davis. People who are longtime fixtures in the county, steadfast and reliable. And Mike Davis and of course, Allan Kittleman are well-recognized (rightfully so) community leaders. But Mike Davis is the campaign chair. He's the symbolic face and persona behind the campaign. It's people like Sean Murphy who turn the wheels of the campaign and make it go. And I had heard that in October 2014, Flashbulb Sean received a dressing down from Allan Kittleman himself about his shenanigans that were captured in this blog. I believe that happened.
But this is the paradox of the Kittleman campaign. Kittleman's political persona is of the "Aw shucks/guy next door/I'm just a regular guy" variety. He fashions himself as a moderate who doesn't play the political games that others play. Yet, throughout his political career, he employs and allies himself with people who consistently deal their cards from the bottom of the deck. Sean Murphy is just the latest manifestation of that, but in past campaigns, the signs are more subtle.
Here's an example. A typical AK campaign piece will say something like, "Unlike others who play partisan politics, AK is a principled leader." How many shots at the opponent are within that statement? The answer is two. One, that the unnamed opponent is someone who plays partisan politics, and two, that same unnamed opponent is not a principled leader. It's a very effective and efficient means of characterizing the opponent without ever mentioning his or her name. Because it allows candidate AK to say, "I never used so-and-so's name! I'm introducing the voters to me, because I care about the people of Howard County." And so there's shot number three: a pivot on the point to that he cares about HoCo. Which is a suggestion that the other person doesn't. Add in the positive points in these statements that AK makes about himself and within the three sentences I mentioned, no fewer than five points of separation are made between AK and his opponent. That's pretty good.
Which is what brings me to what makes me shake my head about this whole thing. If AK is so skilled in the art of political rhetoric, and he is, why employ people like Flashbulb Sean? My opinion? That despite any other better angels, that there's a recognition that a certain segment of the Republican base is motivated by red meat. Is motivated my meanness and evil. We have seen this manifest itself especially in the last year and a half. Traffic to meme generators in Western Howard County is going to be white hot throughout 2018.
And so now we're in the early phases of the 2018 campaign. Will we see politics of personal harassment once again employed by the AK18 campaign, as we did by the AK14 campaign? And if so, how can Allan Kittleman "aw shucks" himself away from responsibility and accountability? With each flash of a bulb, with each meme, with each campaign flyer or incendiary Facebook post, it will be appropriate for AK to answer if he supports that form of political discourse or behavior. And failure to respond in a fashion that does anything but disavow and denounce such actions reflects a clear failure to lead.
Let's be careful out there.
#hocopolitics #kittleman #calvinballteam