The 2009 Senate campaign has already gotten off to a better start than it did nearly ten years ago.
The candidate was 38-year-old Jamaica Plain native, and Connecticut resident, Jack Errol Robinson, a wealthy business executive with degrees from Brown, Harvard Law, and the Harvard Business School who pledged to raise $5-$8 million in his quest to unseat the legendary Liberal Lion.
The Republican Party was excited, the Kennedy campaign was irritated, and the public was intrigued.
That was the high point of the campaign - and it was only the beginning of March.
By Saint Patrick's Day, Robinson was already on the defensive, responding to allegations of sexual assault, drunken driving, carrying ninja throwing stars, and plagiarism. Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby tried to spring to his defense, noting that the sexual assault charge had been dropped and the drunk driving charge dismissed when Robinson passed a breathalyzer (the throwing stars were found in his pocket, and the plagiarism charge was confirmed by a federal judge), but it was too late.
Jack responded by releasing "The Robinson Report" (Update: Alpine McGregor over at Rumors on the Internet was able to find the report), answering all the charges against him, and went on the offensive - lobbying bombs at Kennedy for his own past indiscretions on Martha's Vineyard, and insinuating that GOP Governor Paul Cellucci had a gambling problem.
The state GOP and Governor Cellucci disowned him, and Robinson was left to his own devices, paying Somerville company Powderhouse Political Consultants $100,000 (I assume this is the same firm he used this year) to gather signatures to get him on the ballot. Robinson called for the resignation of the state GOP chair, and claimed the state party was trying to "sabotage his campaign."
Despite paying for signatures at a rate of $14.29 each, Robinson's chances of making the ballot looked grim. He was so paranoid about his nomination papers, that he asked Secretary Galvin to assign State Police to protect them, lest someone tried to steal them. Galvin refused.
As it turned out, Robinson had a reason to be worried, although not of theft. The state's Ballot Law Commission, citing "a pattern of forgery," threw out 153 of Robinson's signatures, barred him from the ballot, and went so far as to refer the case to Attorney General Tom Reilly's office. His three campaign staffers quit, Robinson fired his lawyer and appealed his case to the Supreme Judicial Court, deciding to represent himself.
On July 18, in a shocking decision for many, Robinson won his appeal and the SJC put him back on the ballot. Jack Errol was emboldened by the decision, predicting to the Globe's Frank Phillips that he would go on to raise as much as $10 million and build a statewide political organization including "media advisers, consultants, and campaign staff."
That prediction was a bit off the mark. Over the next two months, Robinson hired one campaign staffer, who later quit, failed to substantiate claims that he was related to baseball icon Jackie Robinson, and travelled alone to all 351 towns in his "burgundy Cadillac Deville" often stopping for less than five minutes and wandering towns looking for someone to talk to.
From the time he began his campaign in March through the end of August, Robinson had raised just $154K, far short of his $5-8 million goal. He moved his campaign headquarters to "cyberspace," in an effort to "rewrite the rules for campaigning in a new-age economy." Said Robinson, "we are running a guerilla campaign, kind of like the colonial militia against the Redcoats." Yes, kind of like that.
In the end, Robinson turned in an election day performance so dismal, Frank Phillips dubbed it "the lowest ebb of US Senate races in Massachusetts since voters began directly electing lawmakers in 1918."
Robinson polled just 13% of the vote, getting fewer votes than there were registered Republicans in Massachusetts.
On the bright side, it will be virtually impossible for Robinson to fare that badly again. He is on the ballot this time (at least for now), and rather than be sabotaged or actively ignored by the state GOP, he will likely be only passively ignored.
Plus, with such a short campaign schedule, the primary is in 40 days, he won't have to put as many miles on the Deville. Remember, campaigning is all about experience...
Posted by The Senator on Friday, October 30, 2009
Labels: Jack E Robinson