Yesterday’s article on Bearing Drift concerning Steve Waters has drawn considerable attention from folks across the Republican spectrum. For those unfamiliar with the story, let me give you a bit of background. In the past, Mr. Waters has associated with candidates and politicians that mainstream Republicans routinely dismiss and marginalize. For example, in 2008, Steve Waters ran Delegate Bob Marshall’s campaign for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, nearly upsetting establishment favourite and former Governor Jim Gilmore. Well, Bearing Drift informs us that the George Allen for Senate campaign has hired Waters.
This development is drawing considerable attention for a number of reasons. Chief among them revolves around the extremely likely possibility that Delegate Marshall will be running against George Allen. If Marshall does throw his hat into the ring, Waters will not be in his corner. Now I know why the Allen campaign would hire Waters; having been involved with typically socially conservative activists, they hope to draw upon his knowledge and efforts to woo voters who I call the hard right. After all, in this primary, Allen’s major weakness is supposedly not being conservative enough. Steve Waters, they hope, will help counter this perception.
Now when you ask why Waters would join Allen, the answer becomes murky. Perhaps Waters believes that Allen is a true conservative and is the best candidate. Maybe he has discovered that contrary to popular opinion Bob Marshall is not going to run or he has had a falling out with the Delegate and is going with his new first choice. Another likely possibility is that Waters thinks Allen will ultimately win and that he would like to be a part of the victory and the spoils it affords. After all, a spot on a Senate staff is a highly sought position.
Reaction from this news is, not surprisingly, mixed. Allen supporters welcome the news and are touting Waters as a worthy ally in the fight ahead. Marshall people and those who oppose Allen are reacting with disbelief and anger, some comparing Waters to Benedict Arnold for selling out the “true” conservative movement. An opinion of Waters seems to be closely tied to one’s opinion of Allen.
I’m not sure what to make of the whole situation really. I won’t say that I know Steve Waters too well. I did speak to him briefly during the 2008 Marshall campaign but cannot speak either positively or negatively of his efforts. I have heard some people give him praise for his hard work, after all Marshall nearly upset Gilmore. However, I’ve run across others who claim that Marshall almost won in spite of Waters supposed hindrance. Like 1,440 others, I claim Mr. Waters as a Facebook friend. Speaking of that matter, I do find it very bizarre that he must have gone through my friends list and sent friend requests to just about all of them, including ones that I know that he has never met and have little or nothing to do with Virginia politics.
Getting back to an earlier point, the most interesting question of this whole affair is Waters’ motivation. Does he believe that George Allen is the best candidate? Is it a matter of money or power? Is he somehow seeking revenge against Marshall and his cadre of loyal supporters? Unfortunately, I expect this question to go unanswered.
At the end of the day, I expect Steve Waters will draw some amount of conservatives toward Allen, but others will be unswayed. If the primary were held today, with or without Waters, the smart money is on Allen to win. Will Waters help Allen retain this edge through next year? Again, not knowing enough about Waters, I can’t answer that question. I’m just wondering how long it will be until the fuss dies down.
Update: The Fifth District Watchdog makes an interesting point. Back in October of 2010, I got an invite to join the Facebook group “Republicans against a George Allen comeback“. Would you care to wager a guess who sent me the invite? This story is getting more odd by the minute. Given that revelation, Steve Waters joining the Allen team makes about as much sense as Ben Marchi joining Jamie Radtke’s crew. Although it is remotely possible that Waters has had a complete change of heart, these developments seem to smack of hypocrisy. Regardless of your feelings regarding Allen, it seems likely that Steve Waters has destroyed his political creditability with all parties.