If the Green Team had done this to JB Van Hollen, would the Van Hollen campaign have been upset?
Is this the end of the world?
No, of course not.
What do you do if you're the Republican candidate for attorney general and stuck at the top of the ticket is a guy who is going nowhere fast?
Abandon your party's gubernatorial candidate by urging voters to split their tickets.
That's what Attorney General-elect J.B. Van Hollen did on the eve of the election last week. His campaign slapped together a leaflet aimed at supporters of Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, proclaiming: "You can be a GOOD DEMOCRAT and VOTE AGAINST Kathleen FALK."
Not the type of pitch that will earn you brownie points with your party. Aw, but what the heck, Van Hollen won, making him the only Wisconsin Republican to win a statewide seat.
Brian Fraley, Van Hollen's campaign mouthpiece, said the literature should not have bothered Mark Green, the GOP standard-bearer who lost to Doyleby 53% to 45%.
"The only people who got this flier were those who had already decided who to vote for governor," Fraley said, noting that volunteers in Milwaukee, Waukesha and Dane counties were told to drop the 1,000 leaflets only at houses that had Doyle signs in their yards. "It's not like we said anything negative about the candidate. . . . We were going after people who had already made up their mind."
Targeting conservative Democrats was long a part of Van Hollen's strategy, Fraley said. The plan obviously worked well, considering the former U.S. attorney collected 86,000 more votes than Green.
"You need to reach out to conservative Democrats, independents and swing voters in order to win," Fraley said, boasting that his candidate was the only Republican challenger in the nation to win a statewide Democratic seat.
Van Hollen will replace Peg Lautenschlager, who lost to Falk in the September Democratic primary.
Fraley stressed his campaign's close ties to the Republican gubernatorial candidate. "We were not distant from Green," Fraley said. "We worked well with them."
But, Fraley added, "we ran our own campaign."
State Republican Party Chairman Brad Courtney, a glass-half-full kind of guy, initially sounded a little bothered by the literature but downplayed it, agreeing with Fraley that the leaflet didn't really attack Green.
But reverse the picture: Had Falk passed out literature to homes with Green signs, would that have annoyed the new chairman?
"Boy, can I think about this for a couple of hours?" Courtney asked.
Mark Graul, Green's campaign manager, didn't need a whole lot of time to make clear he didn't appreciate the 11th-hour move by Van Hollen
"It's not a tactic that I would have employed had the roles been reversed," Graul said.
Yeah, but why?
"Everybody is accountable for their own campaign," said the veteran Republican strategist. "I don't think I would put together a flier to encourage people to vote for a Democrat and for my candidate."