Meet Me in the Lobby
When the second district Democratic primary between Anne Mclane Kuster and Katrina Swett heated up recently, some political observers pointed to the Swett campaign’s attack on Kuster’s lobbying background as the initial salvo in that skirmish. The Swett campaign argued that Kuster has profited handsomely from representing the special legislative interests of a variety of corporate entities, particularly pharmaceutical companies. The Kuster campaign has countered that their candidate actually focused on beneficial public policy work in areas about which she genuinely cares, like providing free prescription medication to senior citizens. At the time, I took a wait-and-see attitude about whether the Swett attack would have political legs.
Well, with the news that Katrina Swett has herself been a registered lobbyist, it now appears that the Swett campaign is actually the one being undercut by this issue. Swett is claiming that although she was a registered member of her family’s lobbying firm, she never actually lobbied on behalf of clients. I think she is probably telling the truth here. I know plenty of family businesses in which various members are listed as officers of the corporation, but aren’t actually involved in the day-to-day operations of the firm.
But what a tactical blunder by the Swett campaign! I can’t think of a better way to muddle their core negative message against Kuster than with the news that Swett has herself been a registered lobbyist. It doesn’t matter that she may not have been actively engaged in the profession. For anyone paying casual attention to the race (which most people are in August), this disclosure will simply be seen as more evidence that politicians and would-be politicians are in the pocket of corporate America. If the Swett campaign has to get into a debate with the Kuster camp about which candidate was a bigger lobbyist, then the potential impact of the original negative attack is essentially lost.


Posted On: 08-15-2010 07:45:24 by Jim Splaine
I think your observation of voters paying even "casual attention" to the campaigns in August or up to this point is optimistic. I think the campaigns are way off the radar of most everyone. That's why I think the polls are way off, and aren't measuring the real attitudes of the voters right now. It's off-year, the economy has people's mind on other things, and the candidates -- none of them -- have yet grabbed hold. People will start paying some attention after Labor Day.

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