This will make you mad. You won’t want to accept this.
But here it is: With only rare exceptions, politics is for politicians.
Translation: Candidates who come from the private sector to run for high office — most of the time, not all — wind up suffering ignominious smack downs that leave them bloodied and their reputations sullied.
Running a business is one thing. Running a political campaign, with its demands for quick responses to questions and spotless backgrounds, is something else.
Both began their campaigns with promises of bringing real-world job-creating experience to government.
“I want to be the CEO of your state,” Spence says on the stump.
But so far, the real-world has meant only harsh introductions to the real world of big-time politics.
Brunner wobbled early on, but appears to be gaining his sea legs. The slow start hurt when it comes to those all-important first impressions.
Spence continues to struggle — dogged by questions about his resume, involvement with a St. Louis-area bank that received a $40 million bailout, and the news that he was late paying taxes.
Worst of all, he changed his story on the pivotal question of how he voted as a bank board member on repaying the bailout.
For Spence, the revelations have hurt his campaign and left some wondering whether he can still be an effective candidate.
Both Spence and Brunner have dumped bushel baskets of personal money into their campaigns. Both could rebound. But if recent history offers any guidance, both could be facing long slogs.
Take Ross Perot. In 1992, the billionaire entered the presidential race, made a splash, rocketed to the top of the polls…then dropped out only to re-enter the race in October. He finished in third place.
“I think he realized the job of being president was a lot tougher than he thought,” said Ed Rollins, who managed Perot’s campaign.
More recently, there was Meg Whitman, the business exec who ran for California governor in 2010. She wound up spending more of her own money on the race — $144 million — than any candidate in American history.
She committed numerous slipups. Among them: her failure to have voted during the previous 28 years.
“Atrocious,” admitted Whitman. “I wasn’t as engaged in the political process and should have been.”
In 1996 and again in 2000, there was herky-jerky Steve Forbes, who made a splash with his push for a flat tax, then went nuclear on fellow Republican Bob Dole in Iowa and dang near blew them both up.
Politics? That’s a sport for politicians.
To reach Steve Kraske, call 816-234-4312 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @stevekraske.