The last pathetic remnants of the disastrous BRIGHAM/Bohlinger campaign for the U.S. Senate came crashing to Earth today in a sadly anti-climactic conclusion, but it’s worth revisiting for future political candidates when they hire political consultants with no idea how to run a campaign.
Back in December, despite having no money to campaign, the BRIGHAM/Bohlinger campaign decided to spend its time pursuing an amendment to the Montana Constitution campaign to run concurrently with its election effort. At that time, political observers in Montana questioned the sincerity and syntax of the campaign for privacy. I described it as a proposal likely “scrawled on the back of a napkin in a Helena coffee shop before being rushed over to the Montana Secretary of State and the political media for another moment in the spotlight, but it certainly wasn’t vetted, wasn’t researched, and wasn’t even written well.”
In typically understated fashion, Bohlinger strategist Bob Brigham claimed that the initiative would not only win voters but “create a turnout model” to give Governor Bulllock a better Legislature in 2015. To some extent, the strategy worked–Bohlinger got an enormous amount of free press for his proposal, which was, of course, its only purpose all along.
Well, the results were made available today and the Secretary of State revealed the total number of signatures for each of the ballot proposals. The BRIGHAM/Bohlinger Privacy Amendment had zero. Not Bohlinger, not Brigham, not anyone.
I took some flak from the more high-minded members of the Montana blogging community for my criticism of the cynicism of the BRIGHAM/Bohlinger campaign, but the the today’s results are just the final piece of evidence that this campaign was never about protecting privacy or reproductive rights or anything else: it was simply the manifestation of someone’s bitterness about being excluded from the Montana political establishment and a candidate he found to exploit along the way.
There are probably a few lessons here for the political press, too. It’s one thing for a tried advocate to announce an initiative campaign and fail. It’s quite another for a cynical political campaign to use one for free media exposure, and perhaps the press ought to wait for the next candidate and his strategist to gather as many as 100 signatures before they give it coverage.