I have had several people tell me that they enjoy reading the blog, love the snarky humor, but also said, "I hope I never end up on your bad side!" Well, fear not. Nixon had an extensive "enemies list," but it's really easy to stay off my "list," two simple rules:
Rule #1: Don't lie. If you do say something that's not true, then admit it, say you're sorry, and correct the mistake.
Rule #2: Don't be a jerk. Criticizing political opponents based on their voting record, the feasibility of their campaign promises, and their statements and actions is legitimate, and a valid way to illustrate differences between candidates. Misrepresenting an opponent's record so you can call them a "liberal" or issuing personal attacks, not cool.
So there you go. Two simple rules. Follow them, and you can sleep well at night without worrying I'm going to "target" you.
Craig Miller got my attention after he misrepresented Karen Diebel's record on taxes and spending, and attempted to distort his own record on immigration. Matthew Falconer gets attacked frequently here because it seems like every word out of his mouth is either a false attack on someone or a misrepresentation about local government. As for Doug Guetzloe...wow, where to even begin with him and his Fake Tea Party? Here's one example: at the recent Central Florida Tiger Bay Club debate between the Orange County Mayoral candidates, one of the few issues upon which all four candidates agreed was that they all publicly denounced Guetzloe and denied that they were working with him or would work with him.
About two months ago, I wrote a post about Seminole County Commissioner Mike McLean's purchase of about $9,000 of new furniture for his office right after running a campaign claiming he was a "fiscal conservative." Shortly after the post went up, I got a call from McLean's campaign manager, worried that I was planning a series of "hit pieces" on McLean. I said, no, I didn't have any major issue with McLean, I actually had never even met him.
I also explained that I had known John Horan since I had a summer internship with his law firm back in 2002, and knew him to be a dedicated Republican and all-around good guy. I had written the article about the furniture issue because I just thought it was kind of funny and there was a news article that easily verified the facts and details for me. Doing a detailed "hit piece" on a county commissioner regarding specific votes, statements at county commission meetings, and policy positions requires a lot of time and energy to properly research, and I lacked the time or interest to scour over McLean's record like that.
I have continued to get messages from McLean staffers and supporters, worried about my involvement in the race, trying to argue with me about the minutiae of Seminole County Commission budget issues and McLean's voting history. I don't know how many more times I can say this without turning blue in the face, but I am not working for the Horan campaign. I've knocked on some doors once or twice, but that's it.
It never ceases to amaze me how a certain mythology has risen up regarding me, this blog, and my political activities. People have accused me of working for candidates I've never even met. If I was working on even half of the campaigns I've been accused of working for, I'd be a millionaire. Remember, campaign finance reports are public record. If I'm working for a candidate, you'll see it eventually. My work shows up on the reports as either my name or "Caffeinated Campaigns" or "Caffeinated Campaigns & Consulting, LLC."
Since writing that article, I have met McLean at a recent HobNob event, and he certainly seemed like a friendly and affable fellow, exactly as I have heard him described. Unfortunately, this nice and friendly-seeming guy has also made some extremely questionable and disappointing decisions regarding his campaign messaging.
The McLean campaign sent out a mailer comparing John Horan with Barack Obama and attempting to paint Horan as an amnesty-loving liberal. Scott Maxwell doesn't always get his stories straight, but I think he has this one pegged pretty well:
Just by looking at [the McLean mail piece], one obviously assumes Mr. Horan is some sort of liberal, amnesty-loving Democrat who wants to take his open-border, Obama-loving ways to Washington, D.C.
Except he’s not.
Horan is a Republican. And the office he’s seeking isn’t federal. It’s for Seminole County commissioner — one that has virtually nothing to do with immigration.
But who cares? Immigration is the scare tactic and wedge issue of the day. So Seminole County Commissioner Mike McLean (who’s apparently a little nervous about his ability to retain his seat) decided to opt for scare tactics … whether they are relevant or not.
I don’t know John Horan. But I know McLean. He’s an affable enough guy — but also one who has a series of enough bone-headed (and sometimes ethically questionable) moves from his past that he’s right to be nervous.
But I don’t think he’s right to play these silly scare games. County commissioners have about 1,000 things more relevant to their jobs than immigration.
Want proof? How about the fact that McLean’s been on the board for four years and hasn’t done a single thing regarding immigration. (He said he once tried, but the county attorney said his effort his proposal was unnecessary.)
That means that, if voters in Seminole elect a guy who does absolutely nothing with regards to immigration, they will have selected a guy who’s done precisely what McLean has accomplished when it comes to immigration: nothing.
I asked McLean about his mailer, and he said: “I stand by it and feel it is important for voters in the upcoming Republican Primary to be informed on my opponents views on key Republican issues.”
It’d probably be more important for them to be informed of you and your opponents’ views on Seminole County issues.
...Perhaps McLean’s nervous about the embarrassing headlines he’s made during this past term — including the time he reimbursed himself with almost as much taxpayer money for local mileage as the entire rest of the county commission combined.
There was also the time when — fresh off campaigning as a fiscal conservative — he spent more than $8,000 in taxpayer money redecorating his office … including $1,200 for a high-back chair. (McLean said he felt an obligation to make the office look nice, because it really belongs to the taxpayers.)
And then there was the time McLean used county records to get the addresses of county employees, so he could solicit them for his insurance business. (His excuse? Just “trying to make a living.”)
Maybe you can see better now why McLean wants to distract voters. The question is: Will they fall for it?
Mike McLean should be ashamed of himself. This despicable mailer is nothing more than a pathetic attempt to distract from his own record. The Orlando Sentinel was right to endorse John Horan:
So there you go. Don't lie, and don't be a jerk, and you won't have a problem with me. If Mike McLean or his campaign has a response to this, please email me or post a comment. I would hope that the response would come with an apology, but I won't hold my breath.Mr. McLean's early tenure on the commission was marred by episodes of poor judgment. He ordered more than $8,800 worth of new furniture for his county office. He obtained a list of hundreds of county employees to solicit as customers for his insurance business. He billed the county almost as much for travel in his first year as the other four commissioners combined.
These episodes would be easier to overlook now if Mr. McLean were more contrite. Instead, he dismisses them as having occurred during "different times," when public money wasn't so tight — as if it's OK to gouge a healthy budget.
And Mr. McLean has chosen to go after Mr. Horan for a 2008 guest column in the Sentinel that called on Congress to secure the nation's borders and permit "a market-driven flow of legal immigrants needed for the American economy."
Pretty reasonable stuff. And yet, Mr. McLean's campaign has likened him to President Obama. This is silly, and it's irrelevant in a county commission race.
We endorse John Horan.