I hate to start off so early in the cycle blasting campaigns as utterly incompetent and drowning in stupidity, but this is just a staggering piece of idiocy that I need to scream about.
You see, Michael Sullivan's web site went live today, and I went straight to the issues page. I have combed through it three times now (yes, this is how I spend my Sundays) and I cannot find one single thing that would distinguish this as a campaign taking place in Massachusetts. It could be anywhere. Kentucky, Oregon, anywhere.
Oh, he's not the only one. Dan Winslow's issues page is equally guilty. Gabriel Gomez's has exactly one Bay State signifier, at the end of the health care section.
Let me explain three reasons why this is super duper stupid.
First, when you are essentially unknown and asking for someone's vote -- anywhere, but especially in parochial New England -- you need to assure them first and foremost that you know a little about, and care a little about, their particular patch of geography.
Second, if you are the Republican running in a Massachusetts federal election, you desperately want to NOT nationalize the issues in the election, because then you will get your ass handed to you on a stick.
Third, the GOP nominee's main line of attack will be authentic, genuine, in-touch Massachusetts, represented by the Republican; versus out-of-touch, dysfunctional Washington, represented by Markey or Lynch. So it's really, really important that people see you as in touch with, and identifying with, the people and places of Massachusetts.
It's really quite easy to do. Look at the opening paragraph of Ed Markey's Senate-campaign issues page:
Ed is a passionate voice for the families and future of Massachusetts.
From standing up for the middle class, to fighting the special
interests, to creating jobs in the innovation economy, Ed always puts
Scott Brown understood this. Here are just a few of the phrases sprinkled into the Jobs section of Scott Brown's 2012 campaign site issues page:
...create jobs here in Commonwealth... puts Massachusetts and America first... create and save Massachusetts jobs... saddled Massachusetts employers... would have crushed Massachusetts jobs... The medical device industry is huge in the state, with hundreds of companies employing 25,000 people... Massachusetts stands to lose thousands of jobs, while many will simply never be created in the Commonwealth... legislation designed to boost Massachusetts entrepreneurs... a new pipeline to New England would help keep electricity prices low
for rate-payers, making Massachusetts businesses more competitive... free trade agreements (South Korea, Panama & Colombia) that allowed
Massachusetts manufacturers to sell their products to more countries
around the world...
Even that is more vague that I would recommend -- you really want to sprinkle in references like "Cape Ann fisheries," "Blackstone Valley corridor," "vital tourism trade from Provincetown to the Berkshires," "old industrial towns along the Mystic River," and so on.
If the web sites are an early indicator, the three Republican candidates, and their campaigns, don't get any of this. Which is just staggeringly stupid.