This week was brutal for the U.S. Senate campaign of Terri Lynn Land. There were two articles put out by national media outlets detailing the implosion of her campaign, both of which came out at the same time a new poll has Peters now up by double digits.
Both articles appear to redefine the word “lackluster” to mean “utterly and completely embarrassing”.
Not so long ago, Republicans were giddy about winning U.S. Senate control in part by picking up a prized seat in Michigan held for more than three decades by a retiring Democratic lion, Sen. Carl Levin.
They had good reason. Michigan voters had given the GOP control of the statehouse and governor’s office, and conservative organizations prepared to deluge the state’s airwaves. But as midterm elections loom, the optimism has become a salvage operation for the GOP candidate, Terri Lynn Land.
On the surface, she might have seemed an ideal Republican candidate. Pro-business, Land has won statewide office twice, as secretary of state. But she has been tripped up by lackluster public appearances, polling concerns and dwindling outside financial support.
The article has quotes from various Republicans saying things like, “She hasn’t made a strong impression”, “She’d make a better senator than she does a campaigner”, and “I think she could use a little more eloquence.” When your own supporters are saying things like this about you, you are deep, deep trouble.
The AP piece talks at length about how outside spending on Land’s behalf has all but dried up:
And now, with just two months until Election Day, outside groups that endorsed her are putting far less behind her effort. Some are moving their campaign investments to other races.
Senate Republicans need to gain six seats to assume the majority. They feel the goal remains within their grasp, given five Democratic retiring veterans, including Levin. But a number of moves by outside groups suggest Michigan has fallen as a GOP priority, unlike Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana and North Carolina.
And despite American Crossroads reserving $800,000 in advertising for a week in September, Peters and allied groups are on pace to vastly outspend Land in the race’s final weeks.
Americans for Prosperity, the flagship group of billionaire conservative brothers Charles and David Koch, stopped advertising for Land this summer, after spending $5.1 million in ads supporting her through June, but describing the race as “an uphill climb.”
Likewise, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which endorsed Land, ran $400,000 in ads, but has not since June.
The most recent red flag for Land came last month when Freedom Partners, a group associated with the Kochs, canceled an $878,000 ad purchase that was to run in Michigan throughout August.
“There is a high interest in return on investment,” James Davis of Freedom Partners said. “We make decisions based on the most effective use for each dollar at that time.”
Since then, Americans for Prosperity, for instance, has reinforced its advertising presence in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado and Louisiana Senate races.
It’s astonishing that Koch brothers have spent over $5 million on this race. It’s even more astonishing that she trails by 10 points despite that. It’s like Land has a knack for it or something.
Yesterday, U.S. News & World Report published an article titled “The Invisible Senate Candidate” where they refer to her “largely stealth campaign”:
In Michigan, Republican Terri Lynn Land is attempting an audacious political experiment: Whether she can snag a U.S. Senate seat while hardly campaigning.
Land, a former two-term Michigan Secretary of State, is no doubt a ubiquitous presence on television screens. The more than $8.6 million she’s pooled together so far this cycle has allowed her to air a series of splashy advertisements and maintain an air of competitiveness against Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., for the open seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Carl Levin, a Democrat.
But on the trail, she’s taking a minimum exposure approach that’s making her close to invisible. State-based reporters complain about an unprecedented lack of access to the candidate and a dearth of information about her whereabouts on any given day. Advertised public events and interviews are few and far to come by. And Land continues to decline to debate her opponent, stiff-arming organizers with the silent treatment.
Land’s approach seems to be supported only by her former partner on the RNC, Dave Agema, the notorious bigot. “I say, do whatever it takes to win. I don’t care how she wins, whether she debates or not. If she has to not debate to win, that’s fine”, he told USN. Again, when they only person defending your stealth campaign tactics is Michigan’s most unpopular bigot, your campaign is really in its death throes.
USN attempted to reach out to Land but was rebuffed each time:
U.S. News requested Land’s public schedule over several months and was unsuccessful in obtaining it.
Over a two-month period, U.S. News put in repeated requests for an interview with Land in the state or on the phone. She was not made available.
Media folks in Michigan could have told them they were wasting their time.
In contrast, in an apparent attempt to avoid running up the score, Gary Peters released a new positive ad this week called “Service”, highlighting his military service:
The contrast between Terri Lynn Land and Gary Peters could not be more stark. From Peters we get dedication, eloquence, leadership, and a sincere desire to help make the world a better place.
From Land we get evasion and wharrgarbl.