Having just returned this week from vacation, when I ignored
this place and any issues it might discuss, I just Thursday read
Josh Farley’s story about how some people are complaining because
Bruce Danielson, candidate for state Supreme Court, doesn’t seem to be
I’m going to play the devil’s advocate here, in a way. I’m not
saying this move by Danielson is good or right. (Nor am I saying
he’s the devil.) I am saying he just might benefit from this
strategy, and that in itself might make it good or right. I’ll also
argue that maybe there is more than winning the election at
I understand the complaint. The 20 or so of you who might want
to go to a debate between the judge candidates and the hundreds
more of you who would like to read something before voting could
benefit from knowing Danielson’s positions on judicial matters,
assuming you’re undecided.
My answer to that is Danielson did post a one-page website and put his
info in the voter’s guide. He’s telling you something. It’s not
nothing. Whether there is enough there for you to get a sense of
how he would perform as a judge is another question.
That, perhaps, gets answered in the Sun story itself. Farley
followed the advice of bob12345 before bob12345 gave it, suggesting
to me that maybe bob12345 didn’t read the entire story. bob12345
wrote, “i have no problem with him not posting his info,
campaigning, or participation in debates. his info is out there,
the sun should have filled in his info for him.. ‘reporting’.”
Well, bob12345, I assume you’re talking about the questionnaire we
gave each candidate first. No, we’re not going to fill in the
answers to our questions for him. Would you expect the county
auditor to do that? The questionnaire is a place for candidates to
make their arguments without any filtering by us. Farley did,
however, go back to some of Danielson’s old public statements and
put them in the story. You know, reporting.
On the question of whether Danielson’s strategy will make him
the winner, well I’d say it probably won’t, based on history of
other candidates who choose not to show up to public events, answer
questions from inquiring news organizations, or doorbell.
It doesn’t mean it won’t ever work. Danielson, I suspect, may be
employing this technique to illustrate his point on his website
that “Judges should be elected without influence from a political
party or special interest group.”
For the record, I think the term “special interest group” is
thrown around way too much, the all-encompassing bogeyman used by
politicians to scare voters into not voting for the opponent.
For those who might think Danielson is arguing against electing
judges, the very next sentence on his site should dispel that
notion. “Voters should not settle for a judge who has been
appointed by the most partisan office of the State.”
Another reason it could work one day, if not now, is because it
makes the candidate look like a maverick, bucking the system and
delivering a middle finger to establishment politicians and the
mainstream media. Some respond favorably to that.
It also generated a story (free advertising) because some in the
legal community are put off by Danielson’s decision to run this
way. The story does not, contrary to some of the commenters, say
the Kitsap Sun is upset about it. The Kitsap Sun, as far as I am
aware, has not taken a position on Danielson’s tactic. We also
don’t have a practice of editorially slamming people who don’t buy
ads from us, by the way. In fact, I only know who buys ads when I
see them the way you do, on my computer screen or in the paper.
Those of you who want to believe otherwise are probably not going
to believe that, but I’ll go through the useless exercise of
telling you anyway.
Finally, let’s not discount the idea that maybe winning the
election is not the candidate’s first priority. I don’t know
Danielson’s motivation for running. We assume all candidates
actually want to win. The large majority probably do and would take
the job if they did win, but you’d be surprised how many know very
well they’re not going to. So they run for other reasons.
Danielson could win, and if he does I’m sure he’d relish the
job. But if he doesn’t win, he has made a statement by running the
way he has. And if you’re more cynical, he’s paid a filing fee and
paid for a website, which if nothing else ends up creating
advertising for his legal services. How many clients would it take
for him to make up whatever price he paid?
As a P.S. to this, Danielson is not alone this election in
applying this kind of technique. In the 6th Congressional District
race Eric Arentz filed as an independent and as far as I know
hasn’t campaigned other than providing information for the official
Stephan Brodhead, a Republican, has done a little more. He
answered our questionnaire, has a
pretty comprehensive website and I see his ads on
Facebook. He won’t, however, talk to me or other reporters.
In fact, when I wrote that the primary ballots were in the
mail and described him as “2010 Oregon Congressional
candidate Stephan Brodhead,” he took particular exception to that,
writing as a story comment, “Well Gardner, for your information,
when I ran in Oregon in 2010, I did it for experience. I ended up
endorsing one of your fellow Mormons that attended BYU, hence your
qualifiying me as an Oregon candidate is quite self serving… In
fact it is prickish and somewhat BYUish…..Sorta Council of 50 type
Later that day I wrote an e-mail to him saying, “I was hoping we
could set up a time to chat on the phone for an election story for
the weekend,” making no reference to his online comment.
He responded: “Go ahead and talk to Brigham Young, I mean, Jesse
Young. Given how you worded your blog, I am certain that your
interpretation and journalistic intent will not fall in my favor;
hence, I am not interested in talking with you at all….
I responded, “What are you talking about?”
His answer: “You called me the ‘Oregon candidate’ in your
blog….You chose this as a qualifier, and did not have to. This
shows your intent….I am not interested in any type of interview at
this juncture. I think we are done…Please quit with the
My final response: “I’m not done. I don’t understand what the
problem is with what I wrote.
“I’m giving you an opportunity to make your case as a candidate. To
be clear, you’re going to decline an opportunity to make that case
because I mentioned the fact that you ran for Congress in
“If that’s what you want, for me to write that you refused to be
interviewed for the story, I’ll grant your wish.”
He didn’t respond to me again until after I wrote the story I
had asked him to comment for. In that story I described him as “a
real estate owner and manager, small business owner and veteran.”
He took issue with that description.
Brodhead’s message to me: “Collectively, all of the news
organizations have censored my service in Iraq while playing up
Driscoll. Your latest article simply calls me a veteran while you
explain in detail Eichner and Driscoll’s military service. This is
just another blatant example of your media bias and manipulation.
Your credibility as a journalist is suspect. Thanks for devaluing
my contributions as a veteran while playing up others….”
My response: “Amazing that someone who refuses to talk to anyone
in the media complains that he’s being censored.”
In the story I referred to Eichner’s military service by calling
him a “former Navy submarine captain.” Of Driscoll I said he was “a
veteran who in 2006 volunteered to rejoin the U.S. Marine Corps and
served in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
So perhaps Brodhead has a point, though I don’t feel all that
guilty for using “veteran” to describe him. Most people do still
consider being a veteran a good thing, right? Given the chance to
do the story again I might say he was a flight engineer in Iraq. I
wasn’t trying to discount his service. But again, if want to
believe otherwise, what I say here isn’t going to change your mind.
If you go to the bio page on Brodhead’s
site you’ll see his military experience.
And if you’re looking for a candidate who won’t talk to the
media or debate his opponents, you’ve got your man. In a primary
race with five candidates from the same party, I can see a day when
that strategy might work.