March 19, 2015

Scott Walker and the Children of the Corn

He fired a new consultant to placate Iowans.

Only two days ago, the Scott Walker campaign – which is now just a political action committee called Our American Revival – announced it had hired Liz Mair as communications consultant. And then Walker encountered a strange beast known as the “Iowa Republican.”

On paper, hiring Mair looked like a killer choice. She’s a seasoned Republican operative who has campaign experience with the likes of Sen. Rand Paul and Gov. Rick Perry.

But Mair’s tenure on the Walker campaign lasted mere hours before the Democrat political machine exploited a weakness in the presidential primary process and doomed Mair’s collaboration with Walker. It dug up tweets Mair posted back in January and showed them to The Des Moines Register.

“In other news, I see Iowa is once again embarrassing itself, and the GOP, this morning. Thanks, guys,” Mair tweeted Jan. 24. A minute later, she followed up with, “The sooner we remove Iowa’s frontrunning [sic] status, the better off American politics and policy will be.”

Oh boy, when those comments hit the Iowa newsstands, the corn started popping.

Jeff Kaufmann, the GOP chair for Iowa, called Mair’s comments “juvenile” and “ignorant.”

At least Mair wasn’t caught operating a home-cooked email server.

It could have been a tit-for-tat moment, a mere speed bump for the Walker campaign thrown down by Democrat opposition researchers. But next year’s Iowa caucus is a corn-fattened, political sacred cow. And Mair went cow tipping.

For politicians on both sides of the aisle, the path to the presidency begins in the Hawkeye State – not because of any state or federal law, and not because it’s inherently strategically advantageous. A few decades ago, both political parties decided they would kick off their presidential primary races in Iowa. It’s been done that way every presidential election since, and, thus, the political parties birthed a state among states.

Political analyst Jonah Goldberg wrote in 2012, “The real problem with the Iowa caucuses is simply that they confer too much entrenched arbitrary power on one state in perpetuity. For instance, without the Iowa caucuses we would never have wasted billions of dollars on environmentally damaging and economically wasteful ethanol subsidies.”

Naturally, the Iowa political machine likes how candidates make pilgrimages to Iowa to give offerings on the altar of ethanol. It gives candidates a reason for stopping in flyover country.

This is the exact kind of setup the Founders tried to avoid when they instituted the bicameral system in the legislature: states were given both proportional and equal representation. Because Iowa is now always the first state to decide on candidates, Iowa wields outsized influence in presidential contests.

And influence Walker’s campaign it did. Upon hearing the news that Walker’s newest hire once dissed the state, Iowa Republican leaders acted like Mair called their wives fat.

So Walker fired Mair. Well, news reports say she resigned, but Red State’s Erick Erickson (who is a friend of Mair) wrote, “Given Liz’s work history, I will put it to you this way – Team Walker has botched this. There’s just no way Liz Mair resigned with it being her idea.”

In response to the kerfuffle, Mair took to Twitter. Wednesday morning she wrote, “I may not like the result, but as someone who deals with a lot of opposition research, kudos for being quick on the fly…”

Later in the day she wrote about the mail she was getting from Iowan politicos. “It’s a sad commentary that self-described Iowa R[epublican]s are emailing me calling me things like ‘pig,’ ‘bitch,’ and ‘dyke.’” She continued in the next tweet, “I know I offended some folks with my tweets, but I never used that kind of insult. Nor would I. These Iowans are embarrassing the state.”

Welcome to the 2016 political primary: Where the final inning isn’t for a year, but the mud slingers are already at work; where in 49 other states, conservative hopefuls tout lean budgets and decry pork spending, yet they support ethanol just for Iowa; where a man like Walker, who stood firm before teachers unions and a corrupt prosecution, bows before state cronies over comments that expended fewer words than the preamble to the Declaration of Independence.

Meanwhile, if another presidential hopeful is looking for a communications consultant…

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