Posted by: reddiva | April 18, 2010

Good Politicians Are Hard to Find


A political campaign is an interesting thing.  It is a process just like everything we do in life.  Also like everything in life, friendships are made and nurtured along the way.  At some point, the campaign is over and lives return to normal.  Usually when the end arrives it is due to an election the candidate you support has either won or lost.

Not all campaigns end this way as we recently saw with the candidate I endorsed in the US Senate race for Kentucky.  Bill Johnson withdrew from the campaign quite suddenly.  To say all of his supporters were shocked is a gross understatement.

On March 7, his supporters received copies of the following press release from the Johnson campaign.

Celebrity Name Recognition or May 18th Primary Reality?

ELKTON —
Kentucky GOP U.S. Senate Candidate Bill Johnson today issued the following statement regarding the Survey USA poll.

“The methodology used in the Survey USA poll took a sample of Kentucky residents with a telephone number and asked them if they were registered Republicans and likely to vote in the primary.  History shows that regardless of the answer, only 1 in 5 will actually cast a vote in the Republican primary.  This is a name recognition poll more appropriate to a general election than a Republican primary.

“The Survey USA methodology disclaimer states, ‘There are other possible sources of error in all surveys that may be more serious than sampling error. These include the manner in which specialized populations, such as likely voters, are determined. It is difficult to quantify the errors that may result from these and other factors.’

“What a fraud.  Out of the approximately one million registered Republicans, about 200,000 will cast primary votes.  When a sample is taken from the 200,000 with a history of primary voting, a much different picture emerges.  I remain confident in my campaign’s base of support and continued progress in this primary election.

“As a businessman, I understand it is important to base decisions and actions on proper data. I would have been tossed out of any good business executive’s office with a story and disclaimer like the one presented by Survey USA.  To say that the voters of Kentucky are buying Rand Paul when 4 out of 5 of those shoppers have never been to a primary election store is simply crazy.

“I will remain in this race primary race until the results on May 18th.  The media, pollsters, Washington elite, power brokers, and money machines will not deter my efforts.”

Please pay special attention to the last statement from Bill Johnson.  “The media, pollsters, Washington elite, power brokers, and money machines will not deter my efforts.”

Three days later, we received the following release from the Johnson campaign.

TIME TO EXIT THE RACE FOR U.S. SENATE
May the Best Man Win

ELKTON —
Kentucky GOP Candidate Bill Johnson today issued the following statement regarding his decision to exit the U.S. Senate race.

“Magellan Strategies completed a poll for the campaign on Tuesday evening.  The results were not encouraging for a continued run. It is time to gracefully and honorably exit the race for the U.S. Senate.

“I have no regrets. Spending time with men like Bob Heft (50 Star American Flag designer) and Dr. Alan Keyes (Pro-life advocate) has enriched my life.  Talking with Kentucky’s Republican congressman during the past few months reassures me that good people are fighting hard for America.  I am happy to say that we have some outstanding men and women serving at the state level, many of them have given me words of encouragement.  And meeting conservative men and women across the state of Kentucky has renewed my faith that America will again head back to the Constitution.

“Trey and Rand are both good men.  I have decided to remain neutral for now and clear of endorsements.  Regardless of who wins the primary, I offer my full support to helping that candidate become our next U.S. Senator from Kentucky.

“I will spend the next few months relaxing and enjoying time with my family.  I humbly thank all my supporters and volunteers for their efforts.  My goal was to be your public servant in Washington but perhaps another opportunity will emerge in the future.  I look forward to your continued friendship.  Please stay in touch.  Best Regards, Bill”

This was how we knew that the candidate we were supporting was no longer a candidate.  The emails flew back and forth.  Nobody really knew what to think.  We were all certain that we would all hear from Mr. Johnson on a personal level soon and he would explain to us what happened in those three days to change his mind so dramatically.

Word from Mr. Johnson never came.  I will not address whether anyone from the group of supporters that I call “my Kentucky friends” tried to contact him or not.  I personally did not because as his release had said, he was planning to spend some time with his family.  I most certainly would not have wanted to intrude on that time because I felt like he had earned some time to just exist rather than make a campaign speech.  I suppose many of us felt that way.

Suddenly, on Bill’s Facebook page, a note appears that there is a “draft Johnson for Governor” effort.  Bill didn’t say yes publicly, but he also didn’t say no.  Instead his response was that if a certain number of people join that particular Facebook group he’ll think about it.

Excuse me?  What am I missing?  He hasn’t even written a letter or made a phone call to his Senate race supporters and he is talking about running for Governor?

Yes, it’s true that those of us who supported Bill for Senate shared with each other our feelings.  It is a very good thing to work through anger, puzzlement, surprise, disbelief – all the emotions that we were all feeling.  We used each other for sounding boards.  I tried to just listen since I was not as deeply involved as they, but I can tell you it only took a day or two for me to start realizing how devastating this whole thing had been to them.

Some took it more personally than others; some are hurt on a different level.  All of them are hurt, and because they are my friends, I hurt for them and with them.

Fast forward to a few days ago.  There was an enormous TEA Party Rally to be held in Kentucky this past Thursday.  At this event, Bill made an appearance with a short speech and then introduced Rand Paul saying in effect that he and Rand see fiscal policy the same way yet not mentioning the myriad of ways they are different in the support of the issues.

Then a photograph appears of Bill Johnson standing between Rand Paul and David Adams, Rand’s campaign manager.  The three men appear to be having a private conversation in a congenial manner.  I suppose all politicians at one point or another have interesting conversations with another politician who has diametrically opposite political opinions.

Suddenly, the Ron Paul Forum posters have begun a thread totally about Bill Johnson and his support for Rand Paul since dropping out of the race.

Part of the post said:

Since the original topic is Bill Johnson, when the video is released you will notice that Bill Johnson introduced Rand at the Lexington Tea Party and only had great things to say about him.

I talked to Johnson 2 or 3 times afterwards about him considering a run for Governor and he said that if he gets the money he will certainly run. Being that his stock is so high and Trayson’s political career is over if he stays in and loses, he figures raising money for a bid shouldn’t be a problem.

Johnson talked about how great Rand was to the tea party movement, and that he exited the race because all he was doing was hurting Rand‘s numbers and he wanted people to feel like their vote counted. By leaving he stated that Trayson has lost traction and with that feels like endorsing Rand would truly result in no net-gain.

He said that he supports Rand and from talking to him feels like Rand supports him and the movement as a whole. He hopes to be on good terms with Rand after the primary and looks forward to working with him. He also expressed regret in having to deal with some of his supporters who will rail on him for introducing/showing support for Rand.

In the spirit of full disclosure, he did say that he would also introduce Trayson but has never been invited/felt welcome with his campaign.

Knowing how the Paul people lie and distort realities, I sent Bill an email showing him this post.  I asked him just one question:  “Is this true?”  I expected an immediate response saying, “No!”  The response I got was, “Call me.”  So I did.

We had a long talk, and I came away from the conversation feeling very differently about Bill than I had when I saw him in Lexington speaking at an event with Dr. Alan Keyes.  Am I disillusioned?  Perhaps to a certain degree, but more than that I am angry at the way he has responded – or NOT responded – to my Kentucky friends, his former supporters who because of the way they feel they have been treated are now Johnson detractors.  I don’t blame them.  They are justified.  They are responding as they were responded to.

One of the best examples of this came from one of the people in our group of friends and former supporters.  I asked her permission to share it which she gave.  Read this for yourself and see if you don’t agree that these people are justified.  I am printing it exactly as she wrote it with the exception of a couple of names of other supporters which I have deleted for privacy purposes.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. That is my motto in regards to Bill Johnson. I helped coordinate the Tax Day TEA party with Mica on Thursday. One of the first things we discussed was Rand Paul and how I would not participate if this was going to be a Rand Paul rally. When she agreed to invite Trey Grayson to speak, I felt better. Trey’s office declined the invitation and we were not given a reason why. I asked Mica to call Trey’s campaign manager and get someone to speak on behalf of Trey. She left Nate (Trey’s campaign manager) a message and Nate did not return her call. It was verified that Nate did receive a voice mail from Mica. I also agree to help due to the fact that we allowed the 6 candidates for Congress to speak for a couple of minutes was good, too. Then when Bill was confirmed to speak, I felt really good.

Here is why I will not be fooled by Bill Johnson again:

At the TEA party on Thursday, there were Rand Paul stickers and yard signs everywhere. Not a surprise. Had someone ask me if I’d like a RP sticker and I said, ‘no thanks’. Rand was scheduled to speak at the end of the event but because he had to be somewhere later that evening, we had to change it to where he would be among the first to speak. Rand gets on stage and gives his typical speech. “it would be funny, if it weren’t so tragic.” Puke. Then he goes on to say “this is what the TEA partiers should do”..blah, blah, blah. I have news for Paul, nobody asked you what the TEA partiers should do so shut your pie hole!

I’m standing in front of a cooler that had water in it. Bill Johnson walks towards me and I smile really big and say enthusiastically, “Hi Bill!” He looks at me, smiles a half grin, walks past me and grabs a bottle of water out of the cooler and then walks past me again. Did not say hi to me or anything. NOTHING. I was appalled. I had spent 4 hours with this man in Louisville for a Lincoln Dinner, drove in blizzard snow weather to see him in Lexington at a 9/12 meeting where my husband and I handed him a check for his campaign. Went to a gun show in Louisville and spent more money for his campaign setting that up. This man KNOWS me, he knows my face, he knows who I am and for him to walk past me as if I’m a stranger he’s never seen before was a shock!

Bill Johnson gets on stage to talk and I stopped counting at 5. I told (name deleted) that if Bill Johnson’s head was up Rand Paul’s butt any further on Thursday night, his head would be coming out of Rand’ mouth! He may as well as come out that night and said he endorsed Rand Paul because the last half of his speech was all about how great Rand Paul is. I thought I was going to lose it!

Well, at least I got my little dig in Rand when I spoke during the event and said he was wrong about the TEA partiers not being angry. I wanted people in the audience to know that we all don’t like DOCTOR Paul. As (name deleted) pointed out to me, the expression on my face when I said Doctor Paul looked like I had just bitten into something very sour.

Later that evening, I find out some things that really hurt Bill’s campaign:
1. He had an opportunity to call a large Jewish organization for an endorsement and all he had to do was call. He did not make the call.
2. He had an opportunity to fly to
Washington, D.C. to meet with an organization that is widely-recognized among Conservatives and they were split 50/50 between who to endorse: Rand or Bill. Bill said it would be a waste of time to go to D.C. and this organization came out and endorsed Rand soon after.
3. He was told to go to CPAC and introduce himself to some heavy hitters like Newt Gingrich, Michael Steele, Rush Limbaugh, etc. Bill said that CPAC wasn’t a big deal.

Then, when he dropped out of the campaign, Alan Keyes found out he had dropped out the same time America found out: through Bill’s press release.

Several of us spent a few hours at (name deleted) house on a Sunday afternoon to come up with a plan of action and stay organized and get Bill’s name out. Bill even called us while we were talking to give us ideas. Bill knew who was at (name deleted) house. He did not call or email any of us to thank us for us getting together before he dropped out.

I found out this past Saturday that someone (I suspect who) spent $4,000 to purchase campaign materials such as signs, bumper stickers, hats, shirts, etc. the weekend before Bill dropped out.

On the political side, Bill has no clue who the hotshots are and how important it is to garner their support. If someone like me knows the importance of CPAC and how any candidate running for a federal office like Senate should be there, surely someone who is actually running for this office would know to go. Not Bill.

If a huge endorsement was going to come from an organization and all I had to do was travel to D.C. and have lunch or dinner with this group, I wouldn’t be able to fly there fast enough. Not Bill. It’s not worth his time.

If all I had to do was make a phone call to get an endorsement from an organization that has the respect of the Jewish community, I’d be calling them the minute I found out that was all I needed to do. Not Bill. He never made the call.

And if I was considering running for a political office in the future, I would most definitely NOT alienate the very supporters who worked so hard to help me with my very first run for office and do whatever I could to make sure they knew how important they were to me. Not Bill. He doesn’t call or email his supporters after he drops out. And not only that, but he completely ignores them when standing right next to them at an event.

Not only does Bill not know how important it is to get endorsements and garner support from big name Republicans, but he doesn’t even know how to treat his supporters. If he would treat us like this now, how do you think he would treat us when he got to Washington?

I have made such great friends like all of you due to supporting Bill Johnson. But I will not be supporting Bill Johnson in the future for any office. I mentioned to someone a couple of days ago that Bill would be better off running for Mayor of Mayberry than Governor. But at this point, I think (name deleted) is right. Bill would have a hard time getting elected to be dog catcher.

I’m about integrity and character. I’ve been very vocal about Rand Paul having neither. And unfortunately, it appears that our very own Bill Johnson doesn’t either. The way you treat people says a lot about yourself. And the way that Bill treated me (and [name deleted]) on Thursday night speaks volumes for the kind of person he truly is. And personally, I will have nothing to do with someone who pushes me aside after all the time, energy, and money spent on them.

My personal message to Bill Johnson is a simple one.  Yes, it matters where you get your campaign financial support; yes, it matters about the bridges you do not want to burn; yes, it matters that you did not say exactly those words because the meaning was the same; yes, Ronald Reagan called a lot of politically opposing people friends, but you are not Ronald Reagan; yes, all voices matter in our Republic but the voices of your supporters must matter most; yes, appearances are very telling.

And one more thing, Mr. Johnson.  Because of you, I have some very good friends I will cherish for as long as I live.  Much good has come out of this experience in addition to the bad.  That is, they say, the way of life.

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Responses

  1. Good post. I will do some thinking, post something and link back.

    I know it’s been a different experience for you since you’re outside Kentucky. I know we all appreciate everything that you and others have done for us. Like you, I appreciate all the friends I’ve made in this campaign.

    • Meeting all of you and getting to know you better is plenty thanks enough, Lisa!

  2. Very profound post, my friend. Though I am extremely saddened at the recent turn of events I am eternally grateful for the friendships that were forged during this bittersweet experience.

    • We all are sad about it, Crimfyter. On the other side of that coin, aren’t friendships put through a fire the best ones anyway?

  3. Excellent post, can’t say that I didn’t disagree with any point that was made. I am sickened by the thought of the one I thought was legitimate and actually concerned for not only KY but for our country suddenly did an about face without as much as a thank you or any acknowledgment for all we’ve done to help him along the way. I will be more wiser the next time I jump into the middle of a campaign and most likely will have an application for the candidate to fill out before I come on board!!! Kudos my friend, privilidged to be able to refer to in this manner! Keep in touch!

    • How truly blessed this one simple blog writer is!

  4. “I’m a word man. See, there’s this theory about the nature of tragedy, that Aristotle didn’t mean catharsis for the audience but a purgation of emotions for the actors them selves. The audience is just a witness to the event taking place on stage.” (Jim Morrison, The Doors)
    It’s been one hell of a ride. I’m going to get off now. I’ve purged my Facebook. We’ve made our positions clear. Kick the can on down the road.
    Politics is a risky business. People who are interested need to keep their eyes and ears open knowing that very few will return the same person as they were when they entered.
    Thanks, Marie, for wrapping this up. It was necessary and right to do so.
    I so hope Johnson resumes his private life for a number of reasons but mainly because I don’t think he could take much more.
    His family deserves to have him home.

  5. Thank You very much for this great post. I was still in shock about this’happening’, now I see it more clearly and realize the value of getting to know so many very good people who I would never have heard of but for Bill Johnson. May you all be blessed and your Gods be with you, God Bless America. Stay Strong.

    • Thank you for your comment. We have only one God, and He is blessing continually!

      RD


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