Kilgore must have been absent from class that day.
Or misheard the word. Or something. (It’s "underdog"
Jerry, not overdog." People pull for the
will prove to have been a costly mistake. How
costly? Try governorship-costly. Kilgore will agree
to debate Russ Potts or forego a real shot at being
elected the next governor of Virginia.
for one, think he will find a way to agree. Why is
that? At this point, he simply has no choice. To
continue to duck Potts will do Kilgore’s campaign
far more damage than Potts could possibly do to him
in any debate.
is a Republican state by about nine points—the
Bush spread over Kerry was the perfect
snapshot—and losing a third debate, or a fourth,
or fifth to Kaine is not going to change that. In a
two-man race, Kilgore should have that nine point
head-start going in and coming out, no matter what
Potts complicates that, particularly where those
nine points are concerned. Visualize all of
Virginia’s voters standing in a horizontal line,
ranked left to right, liberal to conservative. The
hardcore liberals are on the left end of the line,
the hardcore conservatives are on the right. The two
ends are well defined.
the thing, though: The center of that line is a
fuzzy. That’s where the moderates are. That center
is also where the nine points are. You see, the nine
point Republican advantage is not made up of
hardcore conservatives. It is found more towards the
fuzzy, moderate center.
Russ Potts. Will Potts get a single vote from either
the far left end or far right end of that line? No.
will his votes come from, where will Potts take
votes out of that line? Congratulations. You just
broke the code. The question now is not how many he
will take out of the dead center, but how many of
the nine points he will take.
you can visualize Potts as Pac Man, starting at the
center and gobbling the line up to the right, you
will understand what the Kilgore advisers fear
most—that he will quickly chomp up those nine
are the implications of that? Get the chalkboard and
I’ll draw you a picture.
is perception in politics, and then there is
substance. Perception matters most. Inexplicably,
Kilgore has let himself get trapped into the
perception that he is somehow afraid to debate the
senator from Winchester. I doubt that is the real
case at all. Tim Kaine is who he should fear in
debate. Tim Kaine is a great debater, by most
accounts By most accounts, the Democratic
nominee has already clocked him twice.
why the duck on Potts? Two words: bad advice.
Kilgore is getting bad advice from his handlers.
of Potts from the beginning, they can’t seem to
grasp the fact that the four-term Senator from
Winchester is legitimate with a capital "L."
He turned in more than 2000 signatures from each of
Virginia’s congressional districts to get himself
on the ballot. He’s picking up endorsements.
He’s raising money. He’s talking about real
issues. He’s doing all the things serious,
legitimate candidates do. And he’s clamoring for
admission to the debates.
insistence that Potts be denied will prove to be a
career-ender—for Kilgore. The Republican standard
bearer has some of the best brains in the business
working for him—they’re the best money can
buy—but this blunder is one is going to be more
expensive than anyone imagines. This one is going to
cost Jerry Kilgore the governorship.
July 11, 2005