In about 48 hours the Loudoun County Republican campaign for sheriff will be done, but over the past 12 hours Eric Noble’s supporters have been caught in laughable acts of desperation. Beginning with an attempt to reclaim a “Tea Party” pedigree, of all things, and continuing with a humiliating smack-down by the Loudoun County Republican Committee (LCRC), these daft moves may or may not reflect the Noble campaign’s internal assessment of the race in its closing days.
Is Eric Noble’s campaign this incompetent? While it seems to have been run pretty darn well up until yesterday, something like the email below, sent right before the convention, suggests otherwise.
According to this official LCRC statement, the email that went out yesterday to certain LCRC delegates points to a major ethical lapse by Noble’s campaign. Either the campaign itself sent out a dishonest message, or the campaign gave the delegate list to someone who sent out the message. In either case, according to the LCRC, Eric Noble’s campaign is responsible.
The offending email was received this morning. Framed as an official LCRC communication, it contains registration instructions for Saturday’s convention – along with an endorsement of Eric Noble, right in the body of the text just before the time and location, and two attachments which are Noble campaign materials.
The email is nothing less than a breathtaking act of political deceit, and an attempt to manipulate the vote by claiming party sanction of one for the candidates.
Less legally dubious, and much more humorous: Yesterday afternoon a blogger who co-owns the Republican site The Bull Elephant tried to claim that certain “Tea Party” endorsements are more bona fide than others. Anyone who knows anything about so-called Tea Party groups knows that your dog and cat can form a “Tea Party.”
In this instance, Sheriff Mike Chapman had noted he was endorsed by the LoudounCounty Tea-Party, which has over 4,700 people “Liking” it on Facebook and has been there for years. The blogger – revealing a temporary lapse in judgement – fulminated that THAT was not the “real” Loudoun County Tea Party. (The supposedly true Tea Party has nearly 90 people “Liking” it on Facebook and the page has been there since, apparently, yesterday.)
The truth is, Tea Party groups are like dry cleaners. If you wanted to form a Sterling Tea Party or a Leesburg Tea Party, you literally could go to Facebook and create that Tea Party right now. Or start a Web site. Or put a sign on your garage. This is not to denigrate any “Tea Party” at all; heaven knows some of them do a lot of good. The point is, there is no brand or copyright or national organization that anyone must follow. (Personally, if I wanted to corner the market, I would form a “Tysons Tea Party” and stake a claim from Gallows Road to Route 15 and down to Manassas.)
But Chapman’s original recognition of the first Tea Party endorsement in the race is as defensible as any. What candidate would not do the same? It would have been understandable if the blogger had said, That is only from one Tea Party. Such a statement would be true.
But to say, Yours is not the real Tea Party …. well, that is just silly.
Which, I think, tells us the Noble campaign is in desperation mode (the blogger is an advocate for the campaign).
These two incidents say a lot about Noble’s supporters. It is hard to say whether they say anything about the candidate. These instances could be dismissed under the blanket of plausible deniability.
Campaigns attract diverse supporters in the aristocracy-of-pull universe that is politics. Just as space craft periodically dip into the gravitational fields of planets to hitch some momentum, political Voyagers and Wanderers drop into campaigns like Noble’s for the cycle, riding the momentum and then slingshotting off to the next gig. We can’t hold Eric Noble personally responsible for everything that happens under his name during a campaign, but the burden of showing he is above the misbehavior is on him now.
Up until recently it appeared Noble was mounting a serious challenge to Chapman, and some Noble supporters were predicting a blow-out victory at the convention. People anticipating victory don’t stoop to desperation and unethical behavior.