Local observers are stunned at the Moran campaign’s blowoff of the Pittsburg State University College Republicans invitation to debate Congressman Todd Tiahrt.
A release from the spurned CR group states:
“The Pittsburg State University College Republicans are disappointed to announce that Congressman Jerry Moran has declined multiple invitations to have a debate in Southeast Kansas. According to former campaign spokesman Dan Lara in February, Southeast Kansas is not a big enough venue for a high profile debate between Congressman Tiahrt and Congressman Moran. The Pittsburg State College Republicans plan to go forward with a debate with Congressman Tiahrt and a podium waiting for Congressman Moran.”
The release goes on to say…
“Residents of Southeast Kansas are used to being forgotten by our lawmakers in Topeka; to being relegated to second-rate status because we lack a Wichita or a Kansas City to draw attention. It is unfortunate that Congressman Jerry Moran is indicating that if he were elected to the Senate he would continue to ignore and perpetuate this discrimination of Southeast Kansas.”
Moran has made a career of being everywhere in his district, which is why many political observers are wondering 1) Just how involved is Moran in his own campaign, and 2) How dumb to you have to be to actually tell someone in a campaign how unimportant they are? There are ways of getting out of things, many ways in fact, that don’t involve insulting your base – especially when it’s in an area that doesn’t really know you. Moran has more GOP voters in the 69 counties of the “Big First” Congresisonal District than Tiahrt’s Wichita district, but Tiahrt is scrappy, and didn’t waste any time in publicizing this – as he should. This was a gift. Tiahrt had a very good day because of this gaffe.
It’s been argued that Moran is engaging in fortress campaigning, depending on a very loyal district-wide base to see him through. The next few weeks should be telling if Moran starts to take a more personal interest in his staff, and campaign. Given this kind of screwup, he probably should. PSU is not the only group having trouble with debate scheduling.
Lara has already been shown the door, it seems. However, forget damage control. That ship has sailed. When a group is so ticked off at you, they “…plan to host a debate, with a very conspicuous empty podium,” you’re kinda done there. Them’s fightin words.
However, given Moran’s edge in fundraising, and the fact that he’s never trailed Tiahrt in the polls, the PSU College Republicans might have just alienated the next Senator for this state. I don’t have a favorite, and it’s still a long time til the primary, but, like Moran, there’s no going back from that statement.