The day after the election on his campaign website, before he makes his declaration for 2008, Jim Esch starts with this line:
“Not a win, but I would not call it a loss.”
No, it’s a loss.
Esch lost by 10%. In political terms, that’s a solid loss.
It’s not in the 60’s, but make no mistake, it’s still a specific spanking.
Democrats and others woke up on Election Day-plus-one surprised that Terry didn’t win by more. (And we find it hilarious that Barry Rubin is now running for cover from intra-party criticism.) Now they’ve apparently convinced themselves that with just a little more punch, Esch could have pulled it out. (Esch pops onto Democratic party radar a day late – OWH – 11/9/06.)
In our prediction, one of the only ones available anywhere in this race, we at Leavenworth Street made the guess that Terry would hit 63%. The mistake we made in our odds was that we ignored the fact that Terry all but ignored Esch.
Terry ran a full court positive campaign and acted as if he were running unopposed. He did not run any negative ads against Esch, and did not take the time to define Esch. Against a more formidable opponent this could have been costly for Terry. But had he gone negative (or comparative) he would have defined Esch any way he pleased, obliterating him and putting him in Michael Scott territory.
Esch ran a high school student council campaign, sporting t-shirts and tennis shoes to big-boy events. After a trip to Washington where he failed to gain any PAC support, he claimed he was PAC-free, and then failed to raise any significant money. He then wasted the tiny amount of campaign funds he collected on a vanity website that he and his drinking buddies could admire, instead of on effective TV, radio and print ads (not to mention polling). His bus-bench campaign made it look as if he were running an extended state legislature campaign, instead of trying to sit in John Cavanaugh’s old seat.
On Election Day, Esch admitted in his campaign blog that he thought of quitting the race before the general election, yet was talked out of it by his parents, as if he were tiring of his 3rd grade karate class after finding out it wasn’t all about chopping boards in half. This only magnifies what many knew: Esch would love to sit in an elected office, because, well, he wants to sit in an elected office. He hasn’t built a resume as a hard worker, or a dedicated public servant or a successful businessman. He’s built a resume of being the guy whose name was on a ballot when the Democrats got swept into office. Except he didn’t get to join them.
We’re sure that Esch is convinced that if he’d only put some effort into it, he could have made the race competitive. (And Jim, since you’ve already declared for 2008, will you also refuse PAC money again?) The reality is that a well-qualified candidate could have made this competitive. Esch was not that candidate, and simply declaring that he’s going to do it again in two years doesn’t make him any more qualified.
In this year of Democrat takeover, Lee Terry is fortunate he didn’t have a more qualified opponent.
But Jim Esch is lucky that Lee Terry didn’t knock his political block off.