Around two months ago I started getting calls from a person who works for the state Democratic Party. He told me they think my state representative has the potential to be vulnerable, because of some hazy rumors of scandal or general bad behavior or corruption that (apparently, allegedly) surround him. Pick one: scandal, general bad behavior or corruption. I’m not sure what the caller was alluding to. It’s an overwhelmingly conservative district, so the idea is to have a Democratic candidate on the ballot ready to exploit the possible implosion of the incumbent.
They needed help finding a candidate. I didn’t do anything about it for a month or more, because I’m not the only person they’re calling, and I was hoping they’d find someone. But they haven’t. They have a week left to find the candidate and do what is necessary (50 valid signatures on a petition) to put her or him on the ballot.
I sent emails on it, but no one ever here responds to a request for help in an email, so I made phone calls last night. No one wants to do this. My “top” pick, a woman I have asked to run before, is a retired teacher and would do it, but she cares for her sick and frail elderly mother and she’s just completely consumed by that. Most of the people I talked to had reasons like that not to run: one woman I spoke with who has four kids literally laughed out loud in a jagged, slightly hysterical way. The people who don’t have crushing, overwhelming family and work responsibilities and might consider running talk about how horrible campaigns are: they won’t have any privacy and half or better of the county will end up hating them. I’m not blaming these people, at all. They don’t want to run for office. I don’t want to run for office, either, which is why I’m asking them.
I bring this up because I think there’s a perception that there are just tens of qualified, wonderful people vying for these slots, and the “candidate” is chosen in a smoke-filled room, after carefully excluding all the liberals and hippies. That may be true for big important jobs, like US Senate or House, I don’t know. Maybe it’s true in liberal areas, where there’s a lot of potential Democratic candidates, but in a conservative area like this it isn’t true at all. In a place like this, they’re contacting clueless people like me in absolute desperation trying to come up with a candidate. It’s really wide open. I’d take a hippie in a heartbeat. So why doesn’t anyone want to try?
Ever wanted to know who to thank for House Speaker John Boehner’s congressional career? The late Ohio Republican Rep. Donald “Buz” Lukens was your man. It was 1990. Lukens was in his second term in Congress. The year before, the 58-year-old congressman had been caught on a television network’s hidden camera in a McDonald’s restaurant speaking with the mother of a 16-year-old girl he was allegedly sleeping with. Lukens was soon convicted of paying the teen $40 to have sex with him and wound up serving nine days in prison and paying a $500 fine. That would be his first of two stays in prison, and his second of three sex offense allegations.
Despite the scandal with the 16-year-old, Lukens ran for reelection. He declared his bid for reelection on May 2, 1990, calling the whole debacle a “dumb mistake.” Boehner, who was at the time was president of a packaging sales company, saw his chance. He crushed Lukens in the Republican primary, launching the congressional career that has brought him to the position second in line to the presidency.
According to the FBI report, Lukens told his staffers that the underage girl had given him a fake I.D. that said she was 20 years old. The staffer said Lukens maintained the attitude that there was nothing wrong with what he did. Lukens felt he could have won the election if he had come forward and apologized.“10,000 people voted for a convicted sex offender,” one staffer told an FBI agent, referring to the 20 percent of the vote Lukens received in his race against Boehner.
Maybe Boehner’s not a good or inspiring example. I don’t know that I would actually say “you, too, could end up passing out checks from tobacco lobbyists on the House floor”, but still. These things happen and could happen again.