Friday, July 09, 2010

“Interesting” way to run a campaign

Oshkosh businessman Ron Johnson officially announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate running as a Republican against incumbent Russ Feingold back in May. “Eye on Oshkosh” has reached out to this candidate four times since that announcement – three times directly to his campaign office, always with the promise of a return phone call from people like “his press person,” “his scheduler,” or “his field operations person.” But the professionalism and/or courtesy of a return phone call has never been given. I even called his office at Pacur and left a voice mail for him directly, explaining that I’d called his campaign people with no luck, but again, I haven’t heard a single word from the candidate himself.

Since announcing his candidacy, Johnson’s put out press releases and bought time on TV, but what has he really said? Not much it seems. In fact, his own web site hasn’t thus far said much about what he intends to do if elected. Some have suggested to me that the strategy might be to offer little to nothing so that he can’t be pinned down to much of anything. To any candidate who would employ such a tactic I would say it is interesting, but not bold; somewhat unique, but certainly not suggestive of a candidate who has the courage of his convictions – whatever they may be. It’s very easy to take potshots at what you view is wrong, dish out one-liners, issue a bunch of press releases saying only what you want people to know and do ads that say “just the right things” politically – basically doing everything but put yourself in a position where you actually have to answer questions, defend your positions and talk about what you’d do instead of what everyone else is doing that you disagree with.

At this point I am completely unimpressed by a candidate who says a lot without saying much of anything that voters who try to be informed can really sink their teeth into, question, or challenge. I am even less impressed by a candidate who between himself and his campaign people can’t or won’t extend the common courtesy to return phone calls during a time when he’s asking voters to send him to Washington. It makes me wonder if he’d be even more responsive if he actually were to be elected. Or could we expect more (or less) of the same?

I don’t know yet for certain who I’ll vote for this fall, but I can say I won’t be voting for Johnson. Be that as it may, if he ever does decide he wants to come on the show and discuss his candidacy and positions, he’s welcome to contact us and if we have time available we’ll try to accommodate him. But certainly no more time is going to be wasted chasing after a candidate, especially one in a high profile race, who apparently has no time for someone in the media (especially in his own backyard) and, more importantly, someone who would be helping pay his salary if he’s elected.

Incidentally, one person who has been following Johnson and has challenged much of what his campaign is saying is local blogger, The Chief. You can check out the blog here. S/He does an excellent job and I think it would certainly be worth your time to check out the various postings. They shed some interesting light on things Johnson has been saying – as well as the things he isn’t saying.

Bottom line: If the Johnson campaign approach is to just complain like the TEA party folks about what’s wrong, but offer up no solutions of their own – viable or otherwise – it may get a lot of people stirred up and on his side, but sooner or later that approach is going to get old. I suspect smart voters will see through the political ploy and at the end of the day they’ll give their votes to deserving candidates who’ve been accessible and provided them with real answers, not just a bunch of age old complaints with no ideas of one’s own on how to “fix things.”


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