Michael, Ben, and I had a chance to sit down with Marc Holtzman yesterday, and I now understand why campaigns organize these things. All three of us were leaning towards Bob Beauprez; all three of us are now reconsidering that not-position.
I don't want to repeat their analyses, so I will just add my own impressions. First off, the campaign is clearly well ahead of normal schedule in terms of organization and ground game. Secondly, Marc really is an ideas guy. And third, there's the Internet: it's not just for email anymore.
I'll start with the ideas. Holtzman is a former VC and investment banker, and he's clearly applying that technical knowledge to the state's budget issues. His arguments in favor of securitizing the tobacco settlement are the kind a finance-type would love, citing interest rate spreads and long-term effects of health education, funded by, er, the tobacco settlement. He makes a strong case that the state will never get a better deal than the one it can get now, and putting that money away to retire debt or for a rainy-day fund can be part of a structural solution to the budget problems.
He also talks about securitizing other state assets such as real estate. His example is the highly-successful REIT that Tony Blair launched in Britain, based on Public Health Service properties. The problem is that politically, it's already been charicatured as selling off the State Capitol, and he'll need to find specific, goofy examples of property that the state owns. I'm sure they're out there.
By comparison, a number of Beauprez's answers seemed sincerely conservative but not yet a governing program. He'll have to come up with something that fits that bill.
As for the ground game and technology, the campaign is impressive. They're already well ahead of where a campaign normally is, in terms of counting heads going into the convention. Holtzman also talked about using a VOIP conference-call technology that captured hundred of voters for over 45 minutes. Cool stuff.
Holtzman is clearly positioning himself as the non-establishment candidate, recalling Ronald Reagan's visit to Republican Party headquarters in 1977. (The Rockefeller Republicans running the party stiffed him. They paid for that later.) So internal rebellions can happen. But the more common career path for a party insurgency is the Howard-Dean-Mike-Miles trajectory.
The good news, from Holtzman's point of view, is that he's a much more substantial candidate than Miles ever was, and a much more serious person than Howard Dean. And while Dean counted on college students in Iowa, Kerry had organization. We know how that one turned out.
Stay tuned folks, this one's just getting started,