The Jeb Bradley/John Stephen Debates

by Dave Jarvis, First District Congressional Candidate

As the economy suffers with oil prices up and a credit crunch freezing up liquidity at a rapid pace, the people of New Hampshire watch two career politicians personalize the First District elections and turn it into a brutal slugfest less on ideas than on mud. From the beginning of this election cycle Jeb Bradley and John Stephen have been the frontrunners in the campaign and fought for the title of most conservative. I, as a candidate in the First District as well, wanted to do nothing to stop this exchange. I never wanted to interfere with their roles as frontrunners or in their fight for most conservative. It is much easier to go to where the campaign will be at the end of the race than to beat oneself up going in the wrong direction only to have to return later to a point of reason.


First, it was never wise to fight for the “ultra-conservative” title. If you win it, you have a tendency, especially these days, of alienating moderates and independents. People have learned to mistrust conservatives during the Bush years because they mistakenly believe he is one. So taking the title of most conservative has very little political sense and opens up the door to people like myself to call myself a moderate and get a ton of votes because of it.


Second, it was never wise to let the fight between Stephen and Bradley become as brutal as it has. Neither candidate is looking good because of it, and neither is preparing themselves effectively to face Carol Shea-Porter. In this current economic environment people want fighters but fighters for ideas, not fighters for political advancement. And in so brutally attacking each other, both Stephen and Bradley run the risk of showing that an extreme desire for personal advancement may be behind their mutual rage. Again, I never have a problem watching my political foes shoot themselves in the foot, so distance has been a strategy of mine.


Third, making the race a two person race is completely understandable on their parts because Geoff Michael and I both joined the race rather late. However, after learning of our candidacy neither campaign recognized the wisdom of calling it a four person race. If they had, expectations would be lowered a bit, and votes may have gotten spread amongst the four of us, making the competition slightly easier for them. According to their own perceptions as this being a two person race, the winner will need to take at least fifty one percent of the votes. Forty nine would be easier to take, as would forty eight, etc. Again, I never had a problem with them thinking this way because I knew that with them so doing eventually the campaign would focus on me.


I am a smart politician. In fact, I am the smartest politician in this race. Today, as the two “frontrunners” for the Republican nomination knock each other silly over the conservative moniker, I am fighting for the largest block of New Hampshire voters, many of whom are likely to vote in the Republican Primaries. I am talking about the undeclared and Independent voters of New Hampshire, the people who will decide this primary, and who will decide the general election as well. Those voters have much more pragmatic beliefs, and much more complex political needs. And it takes a rare political mind to convince them. They like to see ideological independence, something Bradley and Stephen lack. They like to see political courage, something not yet seen in this election by either. They like to see a caring personality, and a crafty mind in the policy of their candidates. Historically, they are not all that concerned about money or experience. They read between the lines and are very good at sniffing out quality. That's where I come in. They will be voting for me.


As the race winds down, Bradley and Stephen are someplace I would not like to be. They are in a two man brawl that will be decided by a third man, me. And as they realize it they will become anxious, both of whom are worried about the epithet of “two time loser”. Locked in a downward cycle, they will become more frustrated and if they are not smart they will demonstrate the depth of their personal ambitions and the part those ambitions play in this race.


I will not say I will win this election. Not because it is impossible, but because it is not something the people of New Hampshire are ready for. However, I will spoon feed you all with the important political news of the day. I am very much in this congressional race. I will be getting a good amount of votes. I will be much more competitive than anyone in this state, barring myself, is aware. And, if this streetfight between Bradley and Stephen continues, I will be the First District Republican nominee.