Shortly after Public Defender Matt Shirk declared he was running for re-election, he adopted a more adversarial campaign persona toward the office of Angela Corey than he’d previously demonstrated.
The sides have squabbled. But in the end, they’re both incumbent Republican politicians, and both had a remarkable stroke of luck just before the qualifying deadline last Friday.
Shirk is getting his bell rung in the cash chase against Charles Cofer, a former county judge who retired in order to run against him. Shirk, in trouble, turned his rhetoric up a little bit toward Cofer, calling him a creation of the “liberal trial bar.”
Odd, huh? Why define Cofer as a liberal?
Because only Republicans can vote in a closed primary.
If the race were between Cofer and Shirk, and no Democrats or Independents were on the ballot, then all registered voters would be able to vote in the primary.
Neat, huh? That’s rare here.
And it ain’t happening in August. See, Roland Falcon got in the race.
He’s a write-in. And he likes Matt Shirk; even thinks he’s done a good job. Falcon, at 59, is running for Public Defender but not to win the job of Public Defender.
He really wants to be a judge.
“I’m a poor lawyer. I’m my own secretary. I vacuum, wash windows, write motions. I do want to become a judge, and this is a test: Do people know me?”
“I have a name recognition problem,” Falcon added.
Not any more! Name recognized: He’s the guy who jumped into the Public Defender’s race at the last minute for no particular reason, just to maybe become a judge, even though there are six unopposed judges he could have run against … if he had really wanted to be a judge.
What it seems he really wanted was to close the primary. Who the hell knows why? Odds are, he had a less-insipid reason for throwing salt in Charlie Cofer’s game than he let on in our chit-chat.
Shirk got, as they say, lucky. And he’s not the only one — Angela Corey, his frenemy, got lucky, too.
As if by chance, Kenny Leigh (Slogan: MEN ONLY. FAMILY LAW ONLY. WRITE IN ONLY.) jumped into the State Attorney’s race.
It raised so, so many questions: Would he try only cases with MEN victims? And how did he know to get in just after Melissa Nelson did? And did he file his own paperwork in Tallahassee? (Some cynics of the highest order are saying that perhaps someone with a rival campaign filed Leigh’s paperwork, which may seem a bit collusive, but whatevs).
Why is Leigh running? Glad you asked!
“The Republican Party I love is killing itself,” Leigh told this jackass at the other end of the phone. He said he was “pro gay rights” and “wanted to get the dialogue started.” (What dialogue? Who the hell knows?)
“I don’t even know any gay people,” Leigh continued, “but it’s killing us.”
People have other theories.
After the two-person race became a multi-ring circus last week, Wes White, who’s been running a shoestring campaign against Corey this last year, said that Corey’s “Jimmy Crow” tactic was a way of disenfranchising black voters who might want to send the State Attorney a message.
Harry Shorstein, Corey’s predecessor, said something similar, but more sane and less inflammatorily laden with questionable imagery. He called it “shameful” on the phone on Friday, but the old Marine wasn’t surprised.
He knows BS when he hears it.
It’s gamesmanship, and it’s smart and, as Nixon said, “if the president does it, that means it’s not illegal.”
In other words, nothing is stopping Shirk and Corey from drafting a mummy and a dummy to run as joke write-in candidates to close the primary.
They figure that no one’s really going to notice, that low-information Republican voters, still dizzy and slightly scramble-brained from a year on the Trump Train, will just vote for incumbents.
And why not? Not like any high-profile embarrassments have happened. Not like Marissa Alexander lived through a Kafka novel. Not like this circuit made George Zimmerman famous. Not like anything weird happened during the Michael Dunn trial. And not like Matt Shirk had a grand jury recommend that he resign just because, to conserve water, he may have taken showers with one or two employees a few times.
Republicans are in a unique position. They can, on Aug. 30, send a message to the purveyors of this rank chicanery, designed to throw an election back to incumbents who have made this circuit famous for too many of the wrong reasons.
Or they can reward such behavior, and see it again in four more years.