Saturday, June 04, 2005

Ken Plum Running Scared in Reston?

Delegate Kenneth Plum, a Democrat who represents the Reston-area 36th District, seems strangely afraid of his Libertarian opponent, political newcomer Donny Ferguson. (There is no declared Republican running against incumbent Plum.)

In a recent letter to the editor, Plum, who was first elected in 1981 and therefore should know better, violated the number one rule of political campaigns: Do not promote your opponent, his party, or his views.

Generally, this rule is interpreted to mean "don't use your opponent's name in a speech or in print unless absolutely necessary." It goes without saying that you wouldn't send out information about your opponent or his positions in a direct-mail piece, and you certainly don't provide voters with a means to give your opponent money or volunteer time.

Yet in a letter to The Observer, a Fairfax/Loudoun newspaper, Plum actually gives readers the addresses of Ferguson's web sites:

I too encourage you to visit my opponent's websites, and He is offering to lead our community; we need to understand behind his no tax rhetoric just what he stands for.
Now, it may be that Plum simply thinks that libertarian ideas are too weird for Northern Virginia voters to stomach. Considering the number of government workers and employees of government contractors who live in the area and feed off the taxpayer's teat, he's probably right: They won't want to hear about shrinking the size and scope of government and giving more responsibility and autonomy to individual citizens.

But there are going to be readers, even in Reston, who will go to Ferguson's web sites and find his ideas intriguing, attractive, refreshing, or persuasive. There will be some who will vote for Ferguson on November 8 and others who will give Ferguson money or volunteer their time and energy for his campaign. And none of them would have learned about Ferguson or about how to contact his campaign except for Plum's drawing them a map to the buried treasure.

Whatever Donny Ferguson is doing to goad Plum into ill-considered reactions like this, he must continue doing it. And he needs to teach other pro-citizen, anti-government candidates his secret recipe.

It's so nice to see an incumbent politician squirming at the prospect of a Libertarian challenger.


American Daughter said...

I see you know the first rule of politics--never give opponent free publicity.

My personal favorite is the second rule. Don't over-react to attacks. Goes something like this:

Daily Bleat, day one, page 23, small type--"Candidate rumored to have slept with pigs."

Daily Bleat, day two, page one headline, huge type--"Candidate denies sleeping with pigs."

Daily Bleat, day three, style section, with pictures of candidate at various functions--"Where there's smoke there's fire. Rumors persist about...."

Ah but I am retired from politics now that I live in Virginia. I was involved in New York State. As one of my confederates there said, "Dees meatballs don't know what real politiks iss."

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