Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Little Lessons From Anna's Big Night

By Matt Rooney. Cross posted from Save Jersey

What a night, Save Jerseyans.

Off-the-line Tea Party darling Anna Little continues to cling to a slim 104-vote lead over her multi-millionaire, establishment-backed opponent Diane Gooch in the CD-6 Republican primary. Suffice it to say, you can expect both sides to retain legal counsel as the Monmouth County BOE examines provisional ballots.

So exactly how did Anna Little do it? No other rebel congressional candidates were able to break through the "tea ceiling" this year except her. Win, lose or draw, what made Mayor Little different?

Mayor Little developed credibility with voters, Save Jerseyans, and not just because she's a former freeholder and current mayor (a resume that inspires more confidence than Justin Murphy's "self-employment" through his campaign account). The key difference here also goes deeper than a mere issue of vetting, too, where New Jersey's Tea Party groups failed to consistently promote acceptable alternatives to the status quo (many would cite John Aslanian up in CD-9 as an example).

This is really a matter of appropriate messaging. Rather than campaign endlessly against "the establishment," Mayor Little fielded a positive campaign focused primarily on her own positions and convictions -- not her opponents' shortcomings.

She didn't exactly shy away from the contrast between herself and Diane Gooch. When I interviewed Mayor Little last week, she openly questioned her opponent's stances on a number of hot button issues for conservatives. But I think many other Tea Party candidates failed to seal the deal last night largely because they cast their respective elections as little more than referendums on establishment-backed opponents. For example, in CD-7, voters essentially had a choice between Leonard Lance and not Leonard Lance. "David Larsen who? Oh yeah -- that guy who trashes Leonard Lance. Is he a Democrat?" The same could be said for most of these districts, and the well-funded candidate with better name recognition is going to survive that kind of a challenge virtually every time.

CD-6 was different. Voters could choose the establishment candidate or Anna Little -- a credible, real person owing to her clearly articulated conservative beliefs. Mayor Little's Christie-style pugnaciousness and down-to-earth approach to retail politics gave her a sense of authenticity that Ms. Gooch's campaign, while well-funded, has not yet developed. That was the difference last night in Monmouth and Middlesex, and it just might be the difference in November if Little's little (sorry, bad pun) 104-vote lead remains intact through the provisional ballot tally and possible recount to come.


Anonymous said...

There are a number of factors that contributed to the election results around the state geography, social economic syaus of the districts, voter turnout, personalities and foibles of the candidates. Each district to some extent must be viewed on its own terms.
In the 6th district he bottom line is that niether Anna's popularity nor tea party support where by themselves enough to overcome the power of the line.

With out the support of the both the Regular Republican Voters in Monmouth who know Anna (and to know her is to love her) and the strong support from Tea Party groups she would not have won.

It was a team effort and the team needs to keep working.

TR said...

I think that the Corsi and Little and Peters votes in Monmouth county should be a wake up call to the Chairman and the covey of power brokers running things.

The message is clear that they do not like the way the party is running things.

If a challenger to the chairman had appeared 3 months ago and had a well thought out platform of reform (something the current challenger does not have) then I think the Chairman might have had trouble being re-elected.

As it is I think the race for Chairman in Monmouth will be closer then expected.

In the end the Chairman will hang on only because many of the people I have sopoken too who are very unhappy with some of the chairmans decisions do not view the current challenger as a viable alternative.

The Chairman may not be so lucky next time and should take a lesson from the primary results.

Get real said...

do not take people for granted, not everyone's impressed by money with no qualifications, do not be so elitist, do not think you can control all outcomes, etc., are a few I can think of!!