Beasley vs. Beasley
May 14, 2004
It remains to be seen whether Jim DeMint, Thomas Ravenel or Charlie Condon can stop former Governor David Beasley from winning the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, but there is one candidate who can. That candidate is David Beasley.
If Beasley loses, it won’t be because of his alleged flip-flop on trade, his change of heart on the confederate flag or the bad taste that lingers in the mouths of convenience store owners who lost their video poker machines. It will be because he has made a habit of missing candidate forums, leaving himself vulnerable to criticism that he doesn’t respect the people whose votes he needs to win.
Beasley was conspicuously absent again this week from a Republican candidates forum in Aiken. The Augusta Chronicle is the latest newspaper to jump on the “where’s Beasley” bandwagon, giving his planned absence top billing in a story about the forum. The newspaper reminds readers that the former governor has been “missing in action for at least three other forums since entering the race in January, and he's taken heavy fire and criticism from fellow candidates for his absences.”
A DeMint spokesman implies that Beasley will be ill-prepared to debate Democrat Inez Tenenbaum and a spokesman for Mark McBride calls the absence “disrespectful” of the voters. That’s the kind of talk you would expect from his opposition, but it’s resonating with at least some voters who are not otherwise “anti-Beasley.”
Some members of the Spartanburg Republican Women’s clubs still have steam exiting their ears for being snubbed by both Beasley and Condon, and they have waged a statewide e-mail campaign to let their wrath be known. Most of the unsolicited comments I have heard from voters about Beasley have been about his absence from that forum and the WORD forum in Spartanburg. The impression, right or wrong, is that he’s hiding.
Two Beasley spokesmen have called me and stressed that their candidate is attending more forums than he’s missing. I’m sure that’s true, but his absence is much more conspicuous than his presence, and the effect is having an impact that can only grow between now and June 8th.
Richard Quinn, whose consulting firm is managing the Beasley campaign, explained to me this week that some of his candidate’s absences can’t be avoided because they conflict with fund-raising activities. “The Beaz,” said Quinn, “entered the race late and therefore fund-raising has to be the top priority.”
I’m not sure that voters are going to be sympathetic to the excuse that their candidate can’t attend their local forum because it’s more important to attend fund-raisers.