And the losers are second-guessing …
The political landscape is strewn these days with political losers who are left to battle two illnesses. First, they are trying to heal the wounds inflicted by their opponents and, secondly, they battle the self-inflicted disease of second-guessing, the symptoms of which are very clear: You can hear them muttering, “If only I had done this or that, I would have won.”
Loser Brian Calley, who really wanted to be governor, has inoculated himself from the second malady.
“I’ve never been one for time travel-type scenarios, so the past is the past and the future is the future and the future is as awesome as you want to make it.”
He’s no fun. No wollying in his loss at the hands of Bill Schuette. No self-pity for making mistakes.
His political consultant, however, does engage in a series of “what ifs,” which makes for more interesting reading.
To be sure, longtime GOP consultant John Yob is not crying in his beer or engaged in self pity, but this guy makes his living by not making mistakes. So, almost by definition, he has to look back, so that, going forward, he does not make the same miscues twice.
His post-primary election reflections these days center on two key decisions: Was it a mistake to link his client, Brian Calley, to the part-time legislative proposal? And should he have advised the lieutenant governor not to abandon Donald Trump for president?
To watch him walk through those two issues gives you a rare peak into the inner workings of a campaign and how some things go right and other things not so much.
On the PTL thing, Mr. Yob knew his candidate for governor would have a rough time running as a Rick Snyder Republican, as opposed to a Donald Trump whatever he is. He confesses he needed to pull a rabbit out of a hat and putting Mr. Calley at the front of the PTL parade, with so many grassroots folks behind him, was that rabbit.
The challenge was, “the grassroots loved the plan, but the establishment did not” and those folks bad-mouthed the proposal and Mr. Calley at the same time. Nonetheless, there was a point where that petition drive could have gotten to the ballot.
It was widely reported at the time, after Mr. Calley bailed out as the leader of the PTL club, that, as a last-ditch Hail Mary, Mr. Yob and company would mail out 100,000 blank petitions, hoping to get enough folks to sign the petitions, pass them along to their friends and then send them back to campaign headquarters with the goal of reaching 350,000 valid signatures or more.
He reveals for the first time that there were actually 500,000 mailers and they got between 40,000 and 50,000 signatures in the return mail. They needed 315,000 valid names and, he says, “we got there,” but he did not have a “pad” of names, those over an above the mimimum, to withstand a certain legal challenge to the signatures. Mr. Yob knew the establishment desperatly wanted to kill this thing and would fly speck every signature to toss them out of the final count.
And then there was that moment that he looks back at now.
He thought about putting $200,000 (of his own money, which he had) into the 11th-hour effort to qualify for the ballot. But he never opened his check book.
Would Mr. Calley have won the nomination had the PTL thing been successful? Let the second-guessing commence, but even Mr. Yob concedes that, with Donald Trump warmly embracing Mr. Schuette, the guessing leads to a likely “no.”
Which leads to the second turning point issue.
After the “Access Hollywood” audio tapes of candidate Trump boasting about his manly prowess with women, Mr. Calley called Mr. Yob to give him a heads up.
The L.G. was going to un-endorse Mr. Trump, as he found the candidate’s conduct to be reprehensible.
Mr. Yob listened but made nary a peep on whether to do it.
“I wish I had told him not to do it,” he now second-guessed the option he did not take.
But, he reminds everyone, “you have to put that decision in the context of the day.”
After the tapes were out, all sorts of high-level and rock-ribbed Republicans called for Mr. Trump to take a hike. And Mr. Yob concluded Mr. Calley was in good company.
So Mr. Calley un-endorsed Mr. Trump and, with that, the die was certainly cast that he would lose to Bill Schuette, who hammered Mr. Calley with a flip-flop mallet when he re-endorsed Mr. Trump later on. Mr. Schuette gleefully reminded all those fiercely loyal Trumpeters in the outer reaches of Michigan that he had stood with Mr. Trump all the way, while his opponent had not.
Game. Set. Match.
Hence, Mr. Calley is left to ponder his future, which could include another run for office.
“I never say never, because I hate to eat my words,” he chuckles
And Mr. Yob?
He’s still raking in the cash from other clients hoping to make it to the end zone in November. And, as long as none of them want to hook on to the PTL plan or want to un-endorse Mr. Trump, he thinks they and he will do just fine, thank you very much.