Various people have asked VDB over the last 24 hours to enter into the mindset of Jim Douglas, to try to divine his real reasons for stepping away from the Governor’s race. But it’s funny: it matters so little that the imagination just won’t function. He was tired, or he wasn’t tired; worried about losing, or not at all. Only two things bear remembering: he’s going, and he won’t be gone for a good long while yet.
But a mental task much more to VDB’s imaginative liking? Gaming out various and sundry Scenarios Dubie.
First things first: Lieutenant Governor Brian Dubie cannot, and will not, run for re-election as Lieutenant Governor. Why? Right or wrong, he would be perceived as cowardly, lazy, lacking in seriousness, or all three. No good could come of it, and any decent politician would know that in his gut.
So it’s up or out for Dubie.
Up: Dubie knows very well that this election will not be like the last several. Both Markowitz and Racine will have the capacity and the financial resources to fight a long, tough fight. Douglas Democrats will not automatically become Dubie Democrats; many will come home, for a host of reasons, but suffice it to say that Dubie would be scrambling to hold together a crumbling coalition.
The days when Dubie could duck debates would be over. Tough to execute a Rose Garden strategy when you’re not an incumbent. Which is to say that this race will mean very serious work, and that commencing sooner rather than later.
Out: By taking a pass on the Governor’s seat, Dubie would reinforce the idea that he’s a half-hearted campaigner, a man only sort of interested in holding office, assuming that the road isn’t steep and the demands aren’t strict when he gets there.
Taking a pass, then, makes a later win in a race for Governor or Congress or U.S. Senate significantly less likely. Especially as Democrats in the top two statewide seats could mean that all higher office would be locked down tight for most of the next decade, given past incumbent histories.
So there is the question in a nutshell: if Dubie wants to advance in political life, this is a race he can’t duck.
With those considerations in line, our bet?
Dubie runs, on the calculus that infighting on the Left will cut his work by a third, if not in half. He comes out relatively late, given the entry dates of the Racine and Markowitz campaigns. He presents himself as George Bush Sr. to Jim Douglas’s Ronald Reagan, and builds his campaign around some version of “Read My Lips.”
And finally he loses, friends.
And that’ll be a sad, sad day in VDB’s opinion: we lost Quayle, we lost Bush, we lost Sarah, we lost Uncle Jim, and now if our pundit’s aim is true, we’re due to lose Dubie too. Which will leave those of us on the Left with no one to satirize but ourselves, and that way, of course, lies madness.