“The only thing man has learned from history is that man has learned nothing from history.”
– George Bernard Shaw
Republican Bob Schaffer has said he’s running for the U.S. Senate in 2008, but that was before he said that he wasn’t. Now that he’s hired a general consultant for his campaign, maybe he’ll start saying – again – that he’s really running.
Schaffer has basically frozen the Republican field for Senate while he waits to “officially” announce his candidacy, but the hiring of Shari Williams as his general consultant is not a good start to a campaign that is already in the role of underdog to Democrat Mark Udall.In a big statewide campaign such as U.S. Senate or governor, a general consultant is often the person who basically runs the campaign. A campaign manager is responsible for the day-to-day operations, but it is the general consultant who normally makes the strategic decisions. If Williams is indeed making the strategic decisions for Schaffer, he may never escape the role of underdog.
Williams has a long history of high-level involvement in Colorado political campaigns, but her last two races have been complete failures. She oversaw Republican Greg Walcher’s campaign in CD-3 against Democrat John Salazar in 2004, and despite a heavy Republican voter registration advantage, Salazar pulled the upset. Last year Williams lorded over Bob Beauprez’s campaign for governor, and we all know how that turned out. Here’s what I wrote about the Beauprez campaign after the 2006 election:
…nothing compares to the magnitude of the Beauprez debacle in 2006. The Beauprez for Governor campaign will go down as one of the worst Colorado campaigns of the last 50 years, and rightfully so. In mid-2005, Beauprez was thought to be such a formidable candidate for governor that Democrats aside from Bill Ritter wouldn’t even throw their hat into the ring.
Republicans once expected Beauprez to win this race, but his campaign ended up being so terrible that he could have conceded to Ritter in late September and nobody would have been surprised.
In short, Williams was at the helm of two recent Republican losses that should not have been losses. Democrat Bill Ritter ran a strong race in 2006, but the governor’s seat was Beauprez’s to lose. See, it wasn’t just that Beauprez lost – it was how he lost. Calling his campaign for governor a train wreck is unfair to train wrecks.
Williams is obviously a smart person or she wouldn’t keep getting hired to oversee big campaigns, but I’m more than a little surprised that Schaffer would choose her to oversee his run for the U.S. Senate. It always irritates me when professional sports teams keep hiring the same head coaches over and over again, even though those coaches have proved that they can’t win, and I see Schaffer’s choice of Williams to lead his campaign in much the same way. Lenny Wilkens, for example, is the winningest basketball coach in NBA history. Wilkins is also the losingest coach in NBA history, which doesn’t give me a lot of confidence in his abilities as a basketball coach. Anybody can win a lot of games if they get to coach for 30 years.
Politics is different from real life in a lot of ways; for one thing, a political campaign is the only business that you run where your goal is to go bankrupt. But I’ll never understand why politics is also a business where your professional results are virtually irrelevant. If I applied for a job with Qwest, and my resume showed that I had run the last three companies I worked for into the ground, then I wouldn’t expect to be hired. But if I went to Bob Schaffer and said that I lost the last few campaigns I oversaw, he might give me a job.
Schaffer may very well be the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in 2008, but the way he’s starting off, I wouldn’t expect him to be the next Senator from Colorado.