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Rick Robinson: The Worst Campaign Gaffes from 2014

Our long national nightmare is over.

Yard signs are in the dumpster. The mailman is delivering Christmas circulars instead of postcards with grainy black-and-white photos of candidates in embarrassing poses. And robo-calls now mostly plug the latest deal from Omaha Steaks — uhmmmm, steaks.

The 2014 mid-term elections are history. May they rest in peace.

The rancor of campaigning often makes it hard to laugh before Election Day. But as we’re no longer cursing our neighbor for having the wrong sign in their front yard, it’s time to look at some of the stupid things politicians did during the 2014 election cycle.

President Barack Obama tops the 2014 list. With approval ratings in the tank, declaring his policies on the ballot resulted in his disappearance from the campaign trail. Obama drew fewer invitations from Democratic candidates than the Duck Dynasty crew got from advocacy groups to attend gay rights rallies.

Many are calling Bruce Braley’s (D-Iowa) campaign for United States Senate the worst in Iowa’s history, with many laughable moments to lampoon. Yet, chiding popular U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley – who he wasn’t even running against – as “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school” tops the list. Voters who pride themselves in the production of pork, corn and soy beans didn’t much care for that slight and sent Braley home on election night with just 41 percent of the vote. At the Iowa State Fair, Butter Cow got more love.

It was hard to lose as an incumbent Republican in 2014. But sixteen years in the House went out the door when Lee Terry (R-Neb.) replied to a question about giving back his paycheck during the last government shutdown by saying, “I’ve got a nice house and a kid in college, and I tell you we cannot handle it. Giving our paycheck away when you still worked and earned it? That’s just not going to fly.” What flew were his chances at reelection…right out the window of that nice house.

His opponent – who had flipped parties more often than Florida’s Charlie Crist – whipped him over the head with the quote and beat him at the polls by just over 4,000 votes.

When Max Bacus headed to China, John Walsh (D-Mont.) left his gig as Montana’s Lt Gov. and was appointed to fill the term. A decorated war veteran, he’s also reportedly a nice guy. On the way to reelection however, the New York Times discovered Walsh had plagiarized much of his master’s thesis at the U.S. Army War College. In August, Walsh withdrew from the race and the War College stripped him of his degree. I guess nice guys really do finish last…

“Good men sitting around discussing & solving political & social problems over fine food & drink date back to the 12th Century with King Arthur’s Round Table” read the invitation to the male-only meet and greet for Steve Southerland (R-Fla.). Adding insult to misogyny, the invitation went on to read: “tell the misses not to wait up” because “the after dinner whiskey and cigars will be smooth & the issues to discuss are many.” Needless to say the women of Florida were not amused. Nor was Gwen Graham (D), daughter of the former governor (read – already had name id before the race), his opponent.

Southerland’s response to the outcry came while eating BBQ at a Panama City joint with Gov. Chris Christy. “Has Gwen Graham ever been to a lingerie shower? Ask her. Ask her. And how many men were there?”

Ms. Graham won by less than 3,000 votes.

With a heated race for United States Senate, Kentucky led the nation in stupid nominee wannabes. The race started with Ashley Judd (Who knows she never registered-Ky.) proving in politics that noses – no matter how darn cute – are not something to look down from when talking to voters. And speaking of noses, Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) campaign manager Jesse Benton gets consideration for telling his Tea Party buddies he had to hold his while leading McConnell’s troops into battle. And Alison Lundergan Grimes (D-Ky.) drew the ire of her own base when during a debate she wouldn’t answer that age-old political question…”Did you vote for Obama?”

Still the Kentucky winner or our “Stupid is as Stupid Does Award” goes to a registered write-in candidate, Robert Ransdell (wait for it) – a neo-Nazi running under the slogan “With Jews We Lose.” (Apparently Ransdell never saw Sandy Koufax pitch, but I digress). All the write-ins are yet to be counted, but we’re fairly certain his campaign – like Hitler’s – ended badly in a bunker.

For more columns and stories by Rick Robinson, click here.

For more on Rick Robinson's award-winning books, visit his Amazon page here and his website here.

This article first appeared at RARE and is reprinted with permission.
(Photo: Robert Ransdell from his campaign video)
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