Richmond, Indiana businessman Don Bates Jr. is running for election to the U.S. Senate. It seems somewhat rare that a local person runs for national office, and as a participant in the local political blogging culture, I think that makes me obligated to comment, right? 🙂
Bates has a campaign website, a Facebook page, a Twitter feed, and a YouTube channel, so he can check the "modern candidate" requirements off the list. The content of the website is at times confusing in its construction and full of typos and grammatical errors, and generally seems a notch below what one might expect from a national candidate. But then again, if that's the worst you can say about a campaign, we're doing pretty well, and at least Bates is putting his views out there for examination and discussion.
On "the issues," the theme of Bates` positions seem to be (A) fight against whatever Barack Obama and other Democrats wants to do, and (B) try to resurrect the politics, if not the physical incarnation, of former President Ronald Reagan. I'm almost not kidding about the resurrection part:
I look forward to the day in Heaven when I can look [Ronald Reagan] in the eye, shake his hand, and thank him for saving the United States of America from Communism and economic disaster.
That's Bates on celebrating President's Day, posted on his Facebook page.
Evan Bayh's very recent announcement that he would not seek re-election brought some media attention to Bates, which Bates re-appropriated to imply that Bayh thinks President Obama's legislative agenda is harmful:
I started telling people that Barack Obama's agenda would not be good for America, and that because of Senator Bayh's inability to stop President Obama's agenda, Senator Bayh must be replaced. At first, very few people believed me. It now appears that even Senator Bayh believes me.
What Bayh actually said was that Obama's legislative agenda "is the right agenda for America...My decision was not motivated by political concern." But that didn't stop the local paper from quoting Bates` statements without challenging his shrewd re-framing.
Overall, Bates` behavior and language has been consistent with his statements that he's running for office because he believes the country is headed in the wrong direction. In my view, a candidate with that primary motivation should have a very strong "right direction" that they can present to inspire and mobilize supporters - especially if they have an artificial lack of national political experience. So far, Bates seems to be a reactionary candidate ready to demonize anyone who disagrees with him and dive into the fist-fight, instead of someone driven by hope for a better future, the ability to collaborate and compromise, or any real faith in the political process to better the lives of all of the citizens he would serve.
(Yes, this is a possibly harsh initial conclusion drawn after viewing the Bates campaign website and a few news articles - I haven't talked with the candidate in person, and I reserve the right to update my observations later.)
Regardless of his political positions, I hope that Mr. Bates can work on creating a campaign that's focused on a positive vision, and communicating his own unique qualifications for making that vision a reality. Good luck to him!