Are Reed and Hartsuch being "triaged out"?
Fans of the TV show "M*A*S*H" remember the mad rush of triage, as the buses rolled in and Ottumwa's own Radar O'Reilly yelled "Choppers!" At triage time, the wounded are divided into three groups. The soldiers with the superficial wounds are left to fend for themselves, while those who can't be saved are, in the cruel logic of allocating resources, left to die. The immediate attention goes to the middle group, who have serious wounds but can be saved.
Thus it is in politics. Both parties, in cold political Darwinism, leave the weak to die. It happened to me in my own legislative race 12 years ago. But at the moment, the grumbling appears louder on the Republican side.
Iowa's conservative blogosphere is grumbling that Christopher Reed, the long-shot challenger to Senator Tom Harkin, is being triaged out. The latest controversy centers around Reed's charges on Steve Deace's WHO radio show that that Caleb Hunter, executive director of the Republican Party of Iowa, is "actively telling Iowa voters not to support my candidacy because I have no chance to win." Reed also said Hunter was telling donors their efforts were better spent on trying to win back the Iowa House, where Democrats now hold a 53-47 edge.
"The only groups that I have seen attempting to support Reed at all are the Iowa Right to Life and Iowa Christian Alliance," writes the Iowa Defense Alliance blog, saying that the treatment of Reed reflects on the Republican State Convention's battle over National Committee seats. "These are the same people that claimed that (Iowa Right to Life head) Kim Lehman couldn’t be a national chairwoman because she wouldn’t support all Republicans. Now the shoe is on the other foot. These same people are now doing what they claimed that Lehman would do," Iowa Defense Alliance writes, calling RPI leadership "the Romney Party of Iowa."
"Reed's information is second or third hand," writes Republican state central committee member David Chung at the Hawkeye GOP blog. "I do not know exactly what was said or where but it sounds as if it lost something in the translation."
"(Former state Rep. George) Eichhorn was definitely the 'insider' candidate with more ties to party leadership, and I’m sure they weren’t too happy when their buddy got beat," write Nathan Greene at Battleground Iowa. "I don’t think Hunter was telling people not to vote for Reed, but he was certainly telling people he doesn’t think Reed has a chance, so people should send their money and their volunteer hours over to (House minority leader Christopher) Rants."
"It’s one thing if the party doesn’t have the money to financially support Reed," writes Greene. It is another thing altogether to actively attempt to sabotage his volunteer and fundraising efforts."
The multiple posts on the party's support, or lack thereof, have led to comment wars on the blogs. "You, Christopher, have raised less than $20,000 for your campaign for US SENATE - you need to just curl up and hide your pitiful, pitiful self -- you are an embarrassment," writes an anonymous 'Steve' on Battleground Iowa. "Go buy yourself another suit or haircut with your campaign funds," he adds, repeating an often-noted criticism of Reed.
Clayton County Republican Chair Gwen Eilers has gone so far as to send out a mass email urging Republicans to write in third-place primary candidate Steve Rathje instead of voting for Reed.
"It is no secret that RPI has limited funds this election cycle," writes Chung. "I supported the decision to target these funds to those races where they are likely to be affect the outcome. These chosen few are not chosen for their ideological purity. If it were so, Reed would be at the top of the list. But a dispassionate view, looking to target key races, the U.S. Senate race is not one of them."
Despite his near-invisibility, Reed is reaching as high as 40 percent in some polls, simply by being Not Tom Harkin. Yet, with presidential nominee John McCain in the state Saturday, Reed's name was not mentioned from the podium in Davenport, and no Reed signs were visible in the hall.
Instead, underscoring the Republican Party's apparant priority, state Rep. Steve Olson said, “I believe we can take over the Iowa House.” Also speaking were state Rep. Jamie Van Fossen and two legislative challengers: Ross Paustian, House 84 challenger against first-term Democrat Elesha Gayman, and state senate challenger Shawn Hamerlink, opposing Sen. Frank Wood.
And with the presidential candidate of his party in his home county, sitting state senator and 1st Congressional District challenger Dave Hartsuch did not speak. National handicappers all rank the 1st District as safe for freshman Democrat Bruce Braley.