Where are the candidates?The Bob Corker campaign released poll results that they said were accurate that showed Corker with a commanding lead in the GOP Primary race. The numbers that the Corker campaign have released break the race down like this:
Bryant 17 %
Criticism of the poll because of its obvious bias from both Bryant and Hilleary is warranted. Bryant's call for Hilleary to drop out of the race wreaked of desperation, however, and as a Bryant supporter, I don't like my candidate looking desperate.
I do not believe these numbers are accurate, just as I did not believe the Survey USA poll of last week. However, I don't think that there is any doubt that Corker holds a statistical lead at this point in the race. Unlike some people, I do not believe Corker's lead has all to do with money. It does have to do with the fact that as of today, neither the Bryant campaign nor the Hilleary campaign are doing the simple things that they can do to increase their campaign profile, and they do have the resources to do these things.
I think nearly everyone in East Tennessee with a television set has seen one of Bob Corker's commercials. As effective as commercials are, I don't think they have as much of an impact as the huge Bob Corker signs outside Pilot stations all over the region. Yes, I know Jim Haslam had them put there-but if you drive around Knoxville for any length of time, you are beginning to see Corker signs wherever there is an open patch of grass. They are still usually not far from a Pilot station, but I have seen them in open fields-I even caught one in East Knox County at the edge of a patch of grass near a Food City. These signs are now no longer just the province of Pilot, they are beginning to crop up all over Knoxville. Where are the Bryant signs? Where are the Hilleary signs?
Van Hilleary did have a brief ad buy here, but he has disappeared. Bryant is nowhere to be heard or seen by the everyday potential voter. I have not been approached by either campaign to put up signs for them, and I think it says much for the state of both the Bryant and the Hilleary campaigns that their campaigns in East Tennessee are virtually non-existent, especially in Knoxville.
I know that Ed Bryant is coming to Knoxville for a major fund-raiser. I am glad he is coming, and I hope he raises a ton of money. I'd love to be there, but to be honest, since I am about (by hook or by crook) to buy a house, I don't have $250 right now to lay down so that Nicole and I can attend. More folks need to see and hear Ed Bryant than just the people who can attend the fundraiser-though I hope that many people do attend, the campaign needs the money to get the message out there. However, this is a bit late in coming. Ed Bryant should have been making several trips to Knoxville and let the press know he was coming, and he should have done it long before now.
Van Hilleary is also nowhere to be found in this area. On talk radio, yes-but we all know that for the most part, die-hards listen to The Voice. I met Van on Primary night, but beyond that, I have heard little out of him except on local radio.
It isn't as though Corker doesn't have problems. The entire blogosphere now knows (thank you Terry Frank) about the Bott radio network countering Corker's ads with spots that followed detailing Corker's real record. As a result, Corker has abandoned Christian radio altogether-that could be a critical campaign problem since people who listen to such stations are often Republican voters. What's more, in a dramatic turn-around Corker has agreed to participate in the Town Hall Truth Forums. We will get to see how Corker responds to the very legitimate criticisms of his record, and if he will be willing to do it more than once.
If Corker is to be beaten, his opponents need to establish a constant presence in East Tennessee, and they needed to have done it months ago. This race will be won or lost in East Tennessee, and it is time the conservative candidates began to recognize that reality.