( Mitt Romney talking about McCain's similarities to Bob Dole.)
The arguments over the ethics of the Ventura County Republican Central Committee taking money from a tobacco company to be used on behalf of their candidates, including primarily Tony Strickland, is not going away anytime soon.
Supporters of Hannah Beth Jackson and other groups upset with the introduction of a large amount of tobacco money into Ventura County politics will be protesting outside Tony Strickland's fundraiser next week.
(There also might be a group opposed to the idea of Mitt Romney being a candidate for VP working with them. )
They have been sending press releases to all sorts of media across the county and even into Santa Barbara County. This looks like this is just the kick off in the battle over what his opponents are attempting to show is dirty money.
I have always maintained that taking tobacco money was going to cost the Ventura County Republican Central Committee and Tony Strickland more than it was worth.
Republicans have been countering by pointing out that the State Democratic Party takes money from cigarette companies too. But this misses my analysis. I am not lecturing Republicans why it is wrong ( if they don't get why it is wrong for either party to take tobacco money they aren't going to shift their views anytime soon on it) as much as I am arguing it is going to allow many negative stories and a chance Tony Strickland to be defined as a candidate.
If the election is about campaign finance the Democrats will win. Like it or not voters hate cigarette companies more than they hate environmentalists, teachers' unions, and maybe even trial lawyers. (But tobacco company trial lawyers have got to be one step above DUI lawyers in the public's mind.)
If the election is about raising taxes on the average voter then Tony Strickland can win. This tobacco money storyline is taking away his chances to discuss his strengths as a candidate.
The VCRCC has put him on the defensive in a way that allows his opponents to define him as an ally of tobacco interests. I have watched Tony campaign many times but he has never been depicted as a tool of tobacco interests before. The VCRCC is allowing it to happen to him. Were they in need of money that bad?
Tony Strickland is favored to win. But this is going to make it harder. He is a great campaigner, he has access to large amounts of money, he has decent name ID, and his field campaign is very well organized.
He also doesn't care if his critics make fun of his GreenWave energy company, he mentions it as a part of his stump speech. The more he talks about GreenWave the better for him.
Expect Republicans to hit back with full force looking into Hannah beth Jackson's campaign finance records. But that doesn't seem like a winning tactic as it just continues the conversation over campaign finance. Is that something Tony Strickland wants? Tony is best when he is on the offensive. This donation allows Hannah Beth Jackson to bring up old charges again with a fresh appeal to it.
So, are you going to be at the fund raiser on the inside or out on the streets?
Here is the press release from the protest group:
PROTEST AGAINST $50,000 TOBACCO DONATION TO VCRCC & TONY STRICKLAND FOR
We will be protesting the Ventura County Republican Central Committee's acceptance of a $50,000 contribution from Altria (Philip Morris) on behalf of Tony Strickland. We view a contribution of this size as very significant and a further indication that the tobacco industry will continue to attempt to buy politicians in California. No other single company is responsible for more deaths of American citizens. Mitt Romney, keynote speaker at the Strickland fundraiser and on the shortlist for Republican Vice President, should speak out about tobacco and the cancer it continues to spread throughout our Nation.
Date: Tuesday, June 17, 6:00 P.M.
Place: Hyatt Westlake Plaza
880 S. Westlake Blvd.