Michelle Martin is the Democrats’ nominee to run for the United States Senate in Georgia. Martin has just one problem -- she is not really Georgian. She went to a private school in the Washington, D.C. area. She is a creature of the Washington beltway. But the Democrats decided to draw her to Georgia to run. They produced a memo explaining how she could run as an authentic Georgian.
This is why you will not find Michelle Martin on the ballot in November. She will instead run her race using her maiden name, Nunn, to tie her to her father, former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn. Nunn’s campaign prepared a very detailed memo outlining how she would run for office. The Atlanta Journal called it “clinical” in its details.
Campaigns prepare these memos. As a campaign consultant, I prepared them. Campaigns sit candidates in a room with their closest friends and family, hash out their strengths and weaknesses, and from them develop both a theme and a plan. The message derived from that meeting is the most crucial for a campaign. The Nunn campaign determined early on that it would tie her to her father. Gone is Michelle Martin and here is Michelle Nunn.
The campaign memo also suggested making Michelle Nunn relatable to Georgians by putting her in rural scenes. Apparently even Atlanta voters want to see a candidate walk through mossy oaks. Thus, in her commercial, the closing shot is of her and her family walking under some trees.
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Additionally, the campaign memo encourages Nunn to play up her Georgia roots to show voters that she really is one of them. Her father is featured in her advertising. Her grandmother is featured in her advertising. She does her best to be a native Georgian, never mind that the high school basketball team is not Georgian. It is all part of the plan to convince voters of something that is not true.
Unfortunately for Michelle Nunn, the memo warns that her opponents would try to paint her as too liberal and out of touch with Georgia. The plan cautions her not to take a formal position on Obamacare. What she really wants would hurt her, but no one would believe her if she said she wanted to repeal it.
This explains the most awkward moment of Nunn’s short political career. NBC News asked her if she had been in the Senate in 2009, would she have voted for Obamacare. The deer in headlights look, stumbling, and stuttering deflection of the question made headlines across America. No doubt she had studied her memo so much, she knew she could not take a position on Obamacare. She knew from the polling that she could not say she supports it or would have voted for it. Instead, we got awkwardness that generated national headlines.
It seems pretty clear the Nunn campaign expected an elected official to be their opponent. While the campaign memo makes no guesses as to who it would be, every campaign tries to make their best educated guess and line up their themes to oppose their most likely challenger. Nunn’s theme of being an outsider does not play well against David Perdue. Her team surely expected a Handel or a Kingston.
Now she will have to pit her outsider status against David Perdue’s outsider status. Because those largely neutralize each other, the Nunn campaign will have to go where it prefers not to go. She will have to convince voters she will not be a reliable Democratic vote. Good luck with that.
Erick Erickson is a Fox News contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.