Commentary: About These Rumors of Pending Senate Campaign Announcements…

Charlie Harper

Monday, February 25th, 2013

Let’s talk among ourselves about this, shall we?

We’re an inside baseball crowd here.  Most folks in this great state aren’t going to spend time reading or writing about Georgia politics.  It’s hard to soundbite.  The partisan talking points often don’t apply to state and local issues.  In short, you kind of have to want to be here.  And for those of us who are – contributors and readers alike – we generally are going to know a lot more about what is going on in the political world than the average folk that get their political news from random headlines and soft news outlets like The Daily Show or even Entertainment Tonight.

With that intro, I’d ask that all of us (and yes, that means those of us who write here) try to keep the daily rumors in some form of perspective.  And that means look at why the rumors might be there in the first place.  It’s not always just someone trying to be first to a story.  (though the competition among those who like to be first certainly helps foster the goals of those who choose to plant them.  We’ll admit occasional complicitness with that one.)

The rumor du jour:

The rumor yesterday is that Congressman Phil Gingrey has an pending official announcement that he’s running for U.S. Senate.  Last week we were treated to the same because of inelegant wording from Jack Kingston as he addressed the Forsyth GOP.  Neither man has formally announced, and Gingrey’s camp is specifically denying the existence of the rumored email that has made its way from the blogosphere to the Washington Post saying he’s ready with an announcement.

The only fingerprints on the WaPo rumor are that of Tom Perdue, the biggest loser so far of the U.S. Senate Campaign sweepstakes.  Perdue no longer has a candidate for a campaign that will likely cost more than $10 Million.

A consultant can make 10% off the top for fundraising, and 10%-15% commission for media buys and direct mail fees.  And you can always throw in a nice 5 figure monthly retainer for good measure.


Do the math.  A consultant that just lost that gravy train will be working hard to replace it.  That’s not to say that Perdue is the one behind the push to say that Gingrey is an official candidate.

Other consultants are working just as hard to get on board this train, and Georgia right now looks a lot like Grand Central Station. There are many consultants lining up candidates not only for the US Senate, but for Congress in the 11th, 1st, 10th, 12th, and even 14th, and 3rd.  The sooner Congressmen in those districts are pushed into this race, the sooner that campaigns will form for the various State Rep, State Senate, and County Commission races that will naturally be vacated as dominos fall.

If I’m being too subtle, let me say it this way.  It is to the advantage of the consulting class that the campaign for US Senate began yesterday.  Every day that passes is the opportunity for a monthly retainer lost.

The press – blogosphere and traditional media alike – can easily be manipulated as can be the potential candidates for this regard.  We do what we can, but it’s an inherent “feature” of what we do here.

As we go forward with this process, we’ll report what we know as news and we’ll continue with rumors from time to time which we believe are well founded.  We’ll also try to distinguish between the two.

But we’ll also all try to keep in perspective when we get these rumors “why” we get them, and as Doris Kearns Goodwin would love to say, “what they really mean.”

Now, about why these rumors are easy to generate:

As we’ve been saying all along, Kingston and Gingrey are taking active steps behind the scenes to raise money and do minimal organizational planning for what a run would look like.  Tom Price was already ahead of them on the preliminary organizing and continues to raise money but has put out an official decision timeframe of roughly “May”.

What will happen between now and “May” is the first quarter fundraising reporting numbers.  Each of these men is trying to demonstrate they are running to attract campaign cash, but each is also being careful to not “announce” and thus draw other announcements of those who would be running for their current seat, should they not decide to pull the trigger on a Senate run.

It’s an interesting dance.  And frankly, watching any of these guys dance was bound to be awkward.

And an alternate theory of why a consultant would be pushing rumors of a pending announcement that isn’t:

Some of these potential candidates already have consultants.  Other consultants believe they are close enough to signing a candidate that any mischief they can create will be beneficial to their candidate in the long run.

Tom Price has already taken a bit of a hit for what is being referred to as a botched rollout.  We (I) even reported here that he would be the first to announce.  That was based on reports of what he was telling folks on the afternoon of Saxby’s retirement announcement.  When I talked to him later that weekend, the wording was more careful, along the now generally accepted “99% sure” lines.  Much of this will be forgotten if Price maintains his now publicly established timeframe.

There are those who would like to create the public perception that other candidates are ready to announce, so they can then question why they didn’t, and then project weakness or indecision upon them.  The goal is to use rumor to force a hand, and get an “official” statement from them as to their timeframe for future announcements.

The sooner each potential rival is forced into a box, the better other candidates know when the playing field will fill or clear so they can make their own strategic plans around it.

In closing:

There are, and will be, a lot of moving parts around this campaign.  It will affect all other campaigns in Georgia, and will be part of the national dialogue for 2014.  As such, there are a lot of folks that will want to grab hold of and/or manipulate the narrative.  We understand this fact, and know that we will occasionally be used as a cog in that wheel.  We’ll do our best to play it straight, and we’ll count on you to help us along the way.

Updated with an added comment from Camp Gingrey:

“Phil is encouraged by the feedback he is receiving and is humbled by it.  But when there is announcement to be made, you will hear it from him and not from shadowy anonymous sources.”

Charlie Harper lives in Atlanta and edits the Peach Pundit political blog.

About Charlie Harper

Charlie Harper is a Marietta Georgia based conservative-leaning policy and political strategist.