When Alienation Is A Campaign Tactic

We have two newcomers running for county commissioner in Walker County who are vying for the Republican nomination.  One is running against the incumbent and bringing solutions to the table on how to get the county back on a firm financial footing.  The other is running against the leaders of the Party whose nomination he seeks.

For what it’s worth, I’ve stayed out of the whole commissioner race for personal reasons, but I’ve been watching it from the outside.

Mike Peardon has taken to both social and traditional media for the past few months to complain about an officer in the Walker County Republican Party is supporting his opponent in the primary.  The complaint comes about from when Walker GOP 1st Vice Chairman John Carpenter delivering the sign to a friend.

Mr. Peardon saw the sign in the yard and Mr. Carpenter in the home when he arrived at the home to campaign.  Mr. Carpenter said he was doing his friend a favor when he called and asked for a sign, but Mr. Peardon is accusing Mr. Carpenter and the Walker GOP of shenanigans.  From the Chattanooga Times Free Press article:

Peardon says Philpott didn’t know who Whitfield was. He only had the sign because Carpenter convinced him to put it in the yard.  Carpenter says that’s not true: Philpott, a 28-year veteran of the sheriff’s office who has since left the department, wanted the sign because he was already supporting Whitfield. He knew Carpenter was active with the local Republicans and asked him to bring the sign.

Philpott backed up Carpenter’s version of events, saying he wanted the sign because “I d—- sure don’t want Bebe Heiskell’s [expletive] in my yard.”

Said Carpenter: “I would have taken a Mike Peardon sign [to Philpott], or a Jeff Mullis sign, or a Tom Graves sign. I was just doing it as a friend.”

Peardon’s response?

“If he wants to lie before God and everybody, he’ll have to do it. But I’m telling you what [Philpott] told me.

Mr. Peardon has complained on social media, primarily Facebook, for weeks about how he’s perceived the Party being unfair even though the Party hasn’t endorsed anyone nor any party officer has officially endorsed/blessed/whatever a particular candidate (which our rules forbid).  He sought a rule change during the May Republican Party meeting, but the Party decided to affirm the rules and made no amendments.  No doubt that he will use this in the final few hours of the primary.

If he is victorious on Tuesday, he’s going to have to work hard to rebuild those bridges that he burnt during the primary.  It’s going to be a tough general election race with the Republican-turned-Independent commissioner in November.  A constant complaint of how “it isn’t fair” how “The Establishment” is keeping you down may work for a primary, but it offers little in providing solutions on how promote and implement conservative policies.  Our county can’t afford another 4 years of attempting county-operated businesses in order to balance the budget.  We need our Republican candidates to focus on promoting their ideas vs. distracting voters with ill-informed opinions on how our Party rules work for political benefit.

Although, I do have to laugh at the irony.  A number of folks who are officers of the Party are those who consider themselves, at least at one point, anti-establishment.  Many are TEA Party folks.  Now the tables have turned and they themselves are considered #TheEstablishment.  I can empathize with them, and I hope those folks can appreciate the tough job that Party leaders have.  I’ve been there 4 years ago and to an extent today as a district chairman.  It’s a situation that I don’t envy, and I know my friend, Walker GOP Chairman Matt Williamson, is doing a good job to involve the community with this election and to grow the Party.

It seems, though, that making your own Party the enemy is the new campaign tactic.  I believe it’s a self-defeating tactic because those who run and win with that strategy expect leadership to fall in line because “I won and you lost”.  Like it or not, the Party structure has resources and tools to help candidates during a general election.  Alienating leadership and volunteers who would help you is a poor strategy in my opinion.

Politics shouldn’t be a zero-sum game, but perhaps I’m too idealistic.

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