Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Debate Increases Over Gubernatorial Endorsements

Tim Craig wrote an article for the Washington Post about how Brian Moran's campaign is extremely upset that the Fairfax Coalition of Police, the Fairfax Deputy Sheriff's Coalition, and the International Union of Police Associations recently endorsed Creigh Deeds for Governor. Moran's communications director apparently was so disappointed that he sent over an official letter that questioned the legitimacy of the endorsement because Brian Moran wasn't interviewed during the process.

I can understand where the Moran camp would be upset that he didn't even receive an interview and I think they were right to at least raise questions about the endorsement process that the organizations used. As I mentioned in an earlier post, however, these organizations have received a lot of respect from both sides of the aisle and do go through an in depth process before they make their endorsements. Since the organizations wouldn't want to damage their reputation or the credibility of their endorsements, one would imagine there had to be a reason why Brian did not even receive a brief interview with the organization before the endorsements were announced. According to Craig's article, the reasoning behind this move was that there was no question in their minds that Creigh was the better candidate.
They also told Moran there was never any doubt that they would be endorsing Deeds, who was the Democratic nominee for attorney general in 2005.

"As we discussed with your staff, we did not feel a formal interview and endorsement would be fair to you because from the outset it was clear that Senator Deeds is far and away the most qualified and electable candidate in our view," they wrote.
Now I’m a fan of both Brian Moran and Creigh Deeds. I would be happy to have either one as my Governor and am officially neutral in the race at this point in time. In my opinion, however, this series of interactions seems to make Moran's campaign look even worse than if it had simply not received the endorsements. Not only did the campaign attack an organization that has helped plenty of Democrats get elected, but it also brought to light the fact that these organizations didn't even think highly enough of Moran's candidacy to give him a courtesy interview. If these exchanges hadn't taken place most voters in the Democratic primary would have probably assumed that they struggled over which candidate to support. Now we learn that some of the leading members of the law enforcement community believe “Senator Deeds is far and away the most qualified and electable candidate” and that they came to this conclusion rather easily.

The question now becomes; how should have Brian Moran handled the situation. He could have very easily requested to sit down with the law enforcement community to see where they felt he could improve. During this process, the aspects of his record that they view favorably would have likely been addressed as well. When you consider that all 1200 members of the local organizations probably weren’t going to vote for Creigh just because their union endorsed him, Brian could have used this discussion to remind voters of his positive aspects and potentially even earn the support of a fairly large portion of the union’s membership. By attacking the organizations’ credibility, however, he makes this process more difficult than it could have been.


  1. As a member of the VA State Crime Commission, the House Courts Committee and a former lawyer for the Commonwealth, it is absurd for the police unions to openly state that a basic interview to consider Moran is not worth their time. It raises the question of what did Deeds cash in if he got these endorsements so easily? And it certainly limits the legitimacy of their entire endorsement process, not just the one used in this race.

  2. When you get to the heart of it, it isn’t the actual endorsements that matter but what the organizations/people are willing to do for your campaign. If Moran had stressed the experience that you point out, he might have attracted a large portion of the unions’ membership. These individuals then could have gone out and canvassed, phonebanked, etc. and stressed these points to the general public. The individual members of the union could have therefore helped the Moran camp limit the impact of the endorsement. Now that he’s attacking the credibility of the organization, I imagine he’ll have a harder time convincing some of those who are on the border to actually help out his campaign.

  3. I think that is a valid point and it shows some of the inexperience in the Moran camp where they should have kept the dispute under wraps (not on letterhead). Also, it makes in a news item for a second time.

    But I think at this point in the election, none of the grassroots stuff is essential to the campaign. They are more worried about saying 'law enforcement endorsed' on their websites or fundraising letters.

  4. By the way, I've been skimming the blog for a few days now and you've got some good stuff on it. Keep up the good work.