If you had asked me, at the end of 2013, what Democrats would be campaigning on in 2014 I probably would have told you oil industry impacts. Rail delays. Housing issues.
I would not have said student loans, a Republican marketing firm requesting public student information, and Kevin Cramer filming an ad in a veterans cemetery.
Yet here we are, just weeks away from election day, and all Democrats seem able to talk about is Odney advertising and that Cramer ad.
They’re tying to nationalize Cramer’s gaffe – and it was a gaffe, the ad was in poor taste – by pushing it to their allies on MSNBC. Ed Schultz took it on, and last night Rachel Maddow did a “debunking” because looking up a campaign ad on television is real in-depth journalism type stuff.
Cramer says “screw the veterans,” according to Maddow.
But all snark aside, it’s remarkable that Democrats think their path to victory in North Dakota lays with pushing these sort of “gotcha” moments to their left-wing media pals at MSNBC and The Huffington Post.
Democrat Tax Commissioner candidate Jason Astrup has been capitalizing on incumbent Republican Ryan Rauschenberger’s struggles with alcohol with attack ads, and that’s fair (though the ads are so harsh they’ll probably backfire), but he’s done very little to communicate a platform of ideas beyond the attacks.
Democrat Agriculture Commissioner candidate Ryan Taylor probably has the best shot of any Democrat on the statewide ballot to win, but his race has been way off message talking about student loans (for some strange reason). Sure, the industrial commission on which the Ag Commissioner has a seat oversees the Bank of North Dakota which does a lot with student loans, but I’m pretty sure North Dakotans were expecting to hear about agriculture and energy policy from the Agriculture Commission candidate.
Nobody seemed to care about Democrat House candidate George Sinner’s campaign until Cramer gave liberal demagogues fodder with his ill-advised cemetery campaign. But is that really what we want to elect a representative to the House on?
Sinner doesn’t seem to be offering much else.
That’s telling, isn’t it? There are plenty of issues North Dakota Republicans are weak on, but Democrats in this state are such hide-bound ideologues that they can’t seem to get outside of their own politics.
Heidi Heitkamp did in 2012, positioning herself (dishonestly, I think, given her voting record since) to the right of Barack Obama and her national party, and she won. Granted, by a small margin, but still.
Maybe one day Democrats in this state will figure out that they can win elections if they present North Dakota voters something they’re willing to vote for. I thought they might have figured that out after 2012. Their 2014 candidates tell me otherwise.