There’s a long list of desperate campaign tactics that we here at the Odd Dominion like to call “Things that never work.” Topping that list, of course, are such tried-and-true lemons as “unilaterally pulling your attack ads from the airwaves” and “attempting to rescind your guilty plea for soliciting gay sex in an airport bathroom.” Although not quite in this rarified company, there is one mystifyingly popular political chess move that seldom, if ever, begets the sweet fruit of victory: resigning your current position to demonstrate the “seriousness” of your campaign for higher office.
You would think, after watching this gambit backfire on everyone from Viagra spokesperson Bob Dole to disgraced hair model John Edwards (guess which one had to call his doctor to
By resigning his office, Brian Moran has adopted the strategy of Bob Dole and John Edwards. Maybe he really doesn’t want that gig as governor after all.
tame a four-hour erection!), that no self-respecting pol would seriously consider this tired ploy a sure path to electoral success. Hell, not even John McCain—a man who basically tried every campaign tactic invented since the Crimean War in his fight for the White House—was foolish enough to resign his senate seat to further his presidential aspirations. (After all, a man can’t pay for seven houses’ worth of landscaping professionals when his only source of income comes from selling David Letterman’s green room swag on eBay.)
But now, in a move so bold that it could only be called aggressively foolhardy, Delegate Brian Moran has summarily abandoned the current job he was elected to do in order to convince Virginia voters to hand him the keys to the governor’s mansion, thereby giving him even more governmental responsibilities to shirk.
And to make the situation even more absurd, Moran’s abrupt decision to flee Virginia’s House of Delegates to concentrate on his gubernatorial campaign resulted in a whiz-bang primary that was so slapdash and disorganized in its execution, it made the recent run-off in Zimbabwe seem like a model of participatory democracy.
The problems began on December 12, the day that Moran announced his resignation. With a 45-day legislative session looming right around the bend, still-Governor Tim Kaine had little choice but to call a special election for early January to fill Moran’s seat, so that the new delegate wouldn’t miss a day of exciting law-makin’ action.
Unfortunately for the residents of the 46th district, Virginia law requires that special election candidates be chosen “within five days of any writ of election…to be held less than thirty-five days after the issuance of the writ.” Since Moran’s impeccable timing triggered this fast-track schedule, candidates for his seat had a whopping four days to woo voters before the parties caucused on December 16.
The all-too-predictable result? A rollicking barn-burner of an election in which a stunning 283 people showed up to deliver resounding victories to Democrat Charniele Herring, who garnered 191 votes, and Republican Joe Murray, who received—wait for it!—a landslide 20 votes, besting his closest rival by a measly four ballots. Even better, according to The Washington Post, Murray “decided to file as a candidate for the Republican nomination a few hours before the voting began.”
Now that, friends, is democracy in action. Come to think of it, perhaps ex-Del. Moran should skip campaigning altogether, take a year-long vacation to the South of France, and then parachute back in to register for the governor’s race at 5am on November 3, 2009. In fact, we like the idea so much that we’re going to put it at the very top of our new list, “Things so crazy that they just might work—especially since your current campaign strategy sucks.”