RonJon's an 'asshole', 'Crybaby' Masters will lose, and betting breakfast on Dr. Oz: A Republican Senate consultant lets 'er rip
An unvarnished and anonymous take from a senior official in the GOP establishment.
Rarely does any significant political player say much worthwhile on the record anymore.
In straying from the party-line playbook, there’s too much to lose and little to gain. Except viral infamy.
So to acquire the real juice on the inner-most happenings in political campaigns at the highest level, you must grant protective anonymity to the actors who sit in the strategy meetings, mingle inside the fundraisers and speak directly to the candidates. It’s a game all reporters must play, however begrudgingly.
For me, complete anonymity must cross a high bar. I must instinctively and empirically trust the source. He/She/They must extinguish their cocoon of bullshit. They must, in effect, let ‘er rip, in a way they would to their husband, wife or best friend from college after two rounds of small batch rye. It must pass the smell test, without reeking of performative exaggeration or cynical deception.
Allowing anonymity is not without risk. All sources have professional motives, personal scores to settle, rivalries to stoke and reporters to court for the future. Because of those complicating factors, anonymity must be accorded judiciously and rarely.
But the anonymous source is usually the way the most useful, straightforward and truthful account is transferred.
It also makes it the most entertaining.
Below is a recent conversation I had with a national Republican operative working on U.S. Senate races. (Even this description was negotiated and I was not permitted to divulge more specificity.)
The strategist believes the GOP will narrowly retake the majority, but not without lots of caveats and criticisms for the fleet of 2022 candidates and operatives along the way. The strategist also dishes on which Democrats are most admired from the other side.
You’ll notice that at one point in the conversation, the operative uses me as a sounding board, prying for my thought process on one of the most bedeviling races on the map. Often times, the smartest inside the operative class are hunting for anecdotal evidence and information as much as the reporter. It’s another side benefit of dishing.
The conversation is edited for length and clarity and specific portions that would betray evidence of his/her/they identity have been purposefully removed.
Catanese: Let’s start with Georgia Senate. What’s different this time compared to 2020?
Anonymous R: Good question. [Raphael Warnock’s] got a voting record. The Trump problems. And Trump last time was out there threatening the secretary of state three weeks out … I believe [Herschel] Walker’s going to win. Every poll I see has [Gov. Brian] Kemp 6 to 7 points up. The generic ballot is also better for us than 2020 by 3 to 4 points. So Walker wins by 1 or 2.
Catanese: Why is Kemp so much stronger this time?
Anonymous R: Stacey Abrams. She’s been complaining the whole time. It’s like ‘we’re ready to move on.’ Kemp handled the pandemic really well, pretty balanced approach. In taking on Trump, he was able to carve out his own distinct brand, not beholden to anyone. Also crime is pretty bad. Atlanta has a real crime problem. There’s a battle for Buckhead with the gangs. I’m sure you’ve heard.
Catanese: What state are you most worried about? Pennsylvania?