By now, you may be aware of Aaron Woolf. He’s the guy running for Congress to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, a fellow Democrat.
Owens was elected in 2009 to represent the 21st District in a contentious election that drew national media coverage.
If you have heard of Woolf, it’s not because he has engaged voters and generated name recognition since his selection by local Democratic chiefs in mid-February, but rather because the media is sounding off that they haven’t had a chance to speak with the candidate.
He hasn’t made any official appearances, given any interviews or publicly engaged with voters.
Editorial boards across the district have been bashing him for his perceived lack of transparency surrounding his nascent campaign.
Democrats, most of whom are unwilling to go on the record, appear to be unified in their talking points making statements like, “Woolf needs time to prepare. Mr. Woolf is carefully studying the issues and meeting with voters across the North Country.
“Aaron will be ready to meet with the media soon, they say. Not now. But just you wait — you’re going to love him.”
Republicans, for their part, appear to be exuberant in hammering what they perceive to be an out-of-touch carpetbagger, relishing in flogging the candidate whenever he ventures out into the open and is subsequently smacked down with questions about his candidacy.
Both sides need to change tactics.
Here’s some advice for the Democrats: This isn’t House of Cards, the popular Netflix drama about a scheming Washington politico, but rather a sweeping and expansive district of hard-working, blue collar folks who just want to earn an honest keep. So your silence in explaining how you selected Woolf as a candidate isn’t doing you any favors and your pseudo palace intrigue makes you look amateurish.
Grow up and be transparent. How are you going to help voters in the North Country? Arm your local committee chairs with policy positions instead of tongue-tied gibberish. And then when your candidate is ready to speak, he can put his best foot forward and the press can pepper him with questions based on your local platform, not amateur missteps that we learned how to avoid in our undergrad poly sci courses.
And to the Republicans: We read you loud and clear on your talking points. However, instead of issuing steady streams of fiery rhetoric that much of the public is immune to, anyway — vacuous bleating against Obamacare, liberals and empty appeals to what some may interpret as archaic interpretations of morality — instead show the public that you are engaged, alert and ready to lead by bringing some fresh ideas to the table.
Use the information vacuum on the other side to create valuable public dialogue so voters know what you plan to do to make their lives better and how you plan on ensuring their best interests on the federal level.
All of that being said, the general public appears to dislike Congress, anyway, which makes this all but an exercise in futility.
According to a Gallup poll released March 10, with the election eight months away, 15 percent of Americans approve of the overall job Congress is doing.
This is slightly better than last month’s 12 percent — golly, have a drink on us — but extends a nearly-steady string of sub-20 percent approval ratings for Congress that started in mid-2011.
Hmm. We’re eviscerating a man for diving into a position in which he’ll immediately be thoroughly despised, anyway.
Score one for foresight.
Democratic officials reached out to us on Monday, March 10, to coordinate an open-ended interview with Woolf. We’ll have talked with him by the time you have read this and we’ll have a clearer picture as to who this fellow actually is and what he’s thinking about.
We have the same questions of why this anointed Democratic candidate as well as Democratic Party leaders have been so unapproachable for more than a month and we hope to soon provide some answers.
But until then, while a victory seems to be a long shot at this juncture given his ineffectual start, the only advice we have to Mr. Woolf if elected is to be prepared for a grueling, thankless job — and more of the type of microscope media scrutiny you are experiencing now.
Here’s the bottom line. The issues facing our communities are raw, real and unrelenting and we need a red, white and blue leader to serve our interests regardless of political party — not petty children squabbling over what equates to mere puffs of gas in the wind. There is enough of that going on in Congress already.