Thursday, November 08, 2007

Wrong Move, Huckabee

The Club for Growth, an arch-conservative interest group that prizes tax cuts over all else, are not fans of Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. The CfG has never been shy about intervening in Republican primaries (it bankrolled then-Rep. Pat Toomey's challenge to Senator Arlen Specter in 2004 -- Toomey now leads the group), and views its mission as insuring that nobody in the GOP breaks from the Party's supply-side-at-all-cost ideology. And, long before he broke through as a serious candidate, they've been dogging Huckabee, who they see as insufficiently committed to death-by-tax-cut.

Huckabee's response, however, may not serve him that well:
Not surprisingly, Huckabee has been far less sanguine about the Club's attack on his record. Campaign manager Chip Saltsman said that the Club's enmity toward Huckabee appears to be the result of a "personal vendetta," adding: "Most people are starting to figure that out. (Toomey, for what it's worth, insists that there is nothing personal about the attacks.)

As for the allegations made by the Club For Growth, Saltsman said that "we've made our record on tax pretty clear." Saltsman argued that because Democrats enjoyed strong majorities in the state legislature during Huckabee's time as governor, he struggled to rein in their approach to taxes and spending. "What the Club for Growth is banking on is people not wanting to do the research," said Saltsman.

Two problems. First, defending yourself in front of Republicans by saying that you couldn't resist the Democratic swarm in your southern state is not a good way to endear you to the base. I know that Arkansas is actually much more Democratic-friendly than its reputation and region would suggest (indeed, both its Senators, its current Governor, and three of its four Congressional Representatives are Democrats), but most people aren't going to read that deep. Which brings me to problem number two: "banking on people not wanting to do the research" is actually a reasonably sound political strategy. Depending on voters to become informed is a sure-fire way to get crunched. If Huckabee doesn't learn that, he's going to run into serious problems as he struggles towards electoral viability.

1 comment:

bpassmore said...

There is always more to the story:

In an attempt to understand why the supposedly conservative Club for Growth is determined to destroy the campaign of Mike Huckabee, it is helpful to understand that Jackson Stephens, Jr. (Steve) gets what he wants. So, when Mike Huckabee opposed him in Arkansas, he did what very few had dared to do. In 2002, Huckabee decided to oppose a voter initiative to eliminate the state sales tax on groceries and medicine, an effort that Stephens was helping to fund. Tensions got so bad between the two that Stephens told a local newspaper Huckabee had become a “tax and spender.”

Steve Stephens didn’t get what he wanted, so he decided, it seems, to get political revenge instead.

Read the whole story - very interested stuff.