From the 2019 book by Sam Carpenter, a chapter from Making Oregon Great Again: Guide to the Grassroots Revitalization of the Oregon Republican Party (and the Defeat of the Ruling Class).
Download the entire book for free at www.makeoregongreatagain.com/book
The Ruling Class Scorched-Earth Campaign: Watch for It.
“…with courage, an open mind, a tolerant heart and a
—Self-description, From Knute Buehler’s 2018 campaign website
I said this in the Preface and it’s worth repeating: “Over these last months, I’ve realized that if I had not written this book, the events of this primary would have been known to maybe only a couple of dozen people who were closely watching, and so the same diabolical (I’ve learned to like that word) manipulations would continue to be repeated cycle after cycle. For that reason, more than anything, I consider the publication of this book a public service to grassroots conservatives.”
I’ll fit the puzzle pieces together in this summary-chapter. As you read, remember that our Oregon Republican downfall can be traced, one-layer-deeper, to our primary elections. With the wrong nominees in our general elections, losing is a foregone conclusion.
I especially direct this chapter to those in the conservative grassroots who contemplate running for office in Oregon, Statewide or Local.
But to start, here’s the tongue-in-cheek (but time-tested) roadmap for the aspiring Republican Ruling Class Moderate candidate who must overcome a solid grassroots conservative competitor in a primary election. With this, I’ll talk to that candidate directly…
- In a diplomatic way, as a Ruling Class Republican candidate, you must convince donors that regular conservative Oregonians are not smart enough to understand that Ruling Class progressive Democrats control the state, and so we need to compete with them on their own level, using their rules.
- You must identify as a “New kind of Republican.”
- Ignore the Republican Party platform. Quietly assure your Ruling Class pals, both Republican and Democrat, that yes, you are certain the document is real, but also certain it was created by Neanderthals.
- Avoid Republican primary gatherings so your true identity is kept on the low-down. Anyway, these people are not going to vote for you. Instead, spend your time in the cities hobnobbing with the elite, raising money.
- If there are two presentable conservative grassroots candidates, each having some kind of reasonable funding, that’s a very good thing: the conservative vote-splitting will happen without your assistance. If there is only one conservative candidate, you MUST enlist another one because you MUST have at least two believable conservative candidates. Three would be best….
- Gather or create evidence (compile a dossier!) for each of these conservative candidates to use in the slash-and-burn assault that will begin one month prior to the election.
- Six weeks out from the election, Identify the leading conservative
- Prepare for your assault
- Five weeks out, and by whatever means necessary, enlist the cooperation of the trailing conservative(s). Or, better yet, if you’ve really been doing your job, perhaps he or she (or they) are already on your team
- With big-dollars, perform a scorched-earth attack on the leading conservative.
That’s it. Very simple. You split the conservative vote. You win!
However, there’s a caveat: you’re going to lose the general election because, through all this, Ruling Class progressives and their fellow Democrats will have been laughing at you, while the Republican Country Class will have become disgusted.
THIS is how the Left wants things to go down! Very simple.
You need to know how this works.
It’s a perfect formula that guarantees general election victory…for progressive Democrats, and only because of weak Republican leadership.
Now I’ll talk to you, the potential grassroots conservative candidate, using my experience in this last gubernatorial primary campaign as a loose biographical guide.
Let’s put the pieces together.
Voting in the November 2016 Presidential election, Knute Buehler wrote-in John Kasich while disparaging Donald Trump on a very personal level.
In the spring of 2018, to win a primary election, Knute Buehler disparaged me on a very personal level.
With conservative politics in Oregon the way they are now – with dominant progressive Democrat political control in Salem and feeble state Oregon Republican Party leadership in opposition – if you are a grassroots/forever-Trump conservative running for major office in a primary election (statewide, congressional district, state House or Senate), and you become a direct threat to the ORP-approved leading Republican Establishment Ruling Class candidate in a primary election, know for sure that if you make a mistake or have any baggage whatsoever, your opposition will be coming after you. Those mistakes and that baggage will at first be hoarded by your moderate opponent, and then later, hyper-exaggerated. A few weeks before election day, your “moderate” opposing candidate will attack you personally, using every media outlet possible (and know that media will be happily complicit in the attacks).
And if you make no mistakes or have no baggage, it will be created out of thin air or cantankerously constructed out of stray unrelated events from your past. The opposing candidate will tear you down and humiliate you in front of everyone you know and multitudes you don’t know. Yes, and there’s a good chance that a strategically-placed conservative vote-splitter (or two) will mysteriously appear.
The Ruling Class Establishment Republican will try to destroy you personally. It’s what they are doing to our President, even more than two years after he was inaugurated.
Get ready for it.
The progressive Left really, really doesn’t want a President Trump-supporting candidate running for state-wide or any other major office for the simple reason that, with a level playing field, that candidate would very probably win the race.
And keep this in mind: The Ruling Class Republican Right, our very own self-anointed smart-people, don’t think a real conservative can win, and anyway, they have a visceral dislike for our President.
These people – this 10% of our base – will not be your friends.
There will be plenty of money available to your opposing Ruling Class candidate to be used against you in an October surprise-type coup-de-grace via a gigantic multi-media slam (because that will be the only way to stop you),
Diana and I endured this and we now realize it wasn’t just aggressive campaign tactics. These attacks were propagated by people who are mercenaries to the core.
Politics draws in the most amazingly diabolical folks.
A strong, respected ORP would not let the above scenario unfold.
In my case, as an illustration, the ORP should have challenged Buehler on his first day of mudslinging attacks, demanding that he pull the ads, via a conversation, and if no response to that, then a press release and social media and an official withdrawal of ORP approval. And before that, the ORP would have stopped Wooldridge’s last-minute entrance into the race, and before that, would have talked to the seven pseudo-candidates, attempting to convince them not to enter the race at all.
Can the ORP actually stop someone from running for office? No, of course not. But it can wield influence via personal conversation and by withholding or withdrawing approval of a candidate. (Yes, the details of this new ORP responsibility, noted in upcoming Part Three, must to be worked out, but you get the idea.)
If you are THE qualified grassroots conservative candidate, you NEED a powerful ORP to protect you.
I’ve talked of lies and innuendo within a campaign, but let’s dig down a little deeper.
What I’ve just described creates a new almost impassible roadblock, the roadblock that stops aspiring grassroots conservatives from becoming candidates: the legitimate fear of widespread humiliation and personal destruction.
Following is a blow-by-blow analysis of how real-life Ruling Class operatives get ginned up for the character-destruction of an opponent.
It’s painful to read, but mandatory to understand.
As our campaign unfolded it began to occur to us that over time, bad moves, innuendo, rumor, and out-of-context words are sought-out and then collected by the moderate campaign’s operatives. These negatives – truth or lies, it doesn’t matter – are, figuratively speaking, put into a for-future-use bank account. The attack-ready bank account balance builds as deposits are collected, these deposits carefully fondled within the campaign organization, internally hashed over and over, again and again…
Yes, of course any good points of the opposing grassroots candidate are ignored.
Ads are quietly prepared, then the onslaught is unleashed just a few weeks before election day.
This last-minute transfiguration of the grassroots opponent into Satan himself, someone to be literally feared and despised, is endemic to the Ruling Class campaign business – progressive Democrats especially, but now also on our side.
And yes, its success is based on the fact that fifty percent of voters don’t pay attention to politics until it is shoved in their faces close to election time via complicit Ruling Class mainstream and online media.
This is pure Saul Alinsky technique. It’s in his book.
How can anyone, under any circumstances, personally justify character-assassination? Ruling Class Candidates, with their entire campaign staff following along – all prodding each other into a frenzy under the guise of moral superiority and public service – convince themselves that their conservative opponent truly is a horrible person.
They come to actually believe their opponent’s newly manufactured fictitious character…the one they themselves created out of nothing at all.
In the Ruling Class candidate’s freneticism, truth or fairness become irrelevant. What matters is that the Republican Establishment “moderate” Ruling Class candidate, can convince him or herself that the competitive conservative grassroots opponent deserves to be destroyed personally.
If the ORP doesn’t get some backbone, God help the next conservative grassroots primary candidate who is polling well.
What was my re-manufactured character? Small-town, incompetent, uneducated, liar, out-of-my-league, shady, flat-out mean, and yes, all the usual Far Left derisive personal descriptors. And not too far into the mudslinging, the inevitable “he’s a hater” epithets emerged. In the end – and this is incredibly ironic – as the epithets and rumors ranged far and wide, I was suddenly accused of doing exactly what they had been doing: mud-slinging, scorched-earth, personal destruction.
Scary Ruling Class stuff, but standard character assassination fodder, aimed exclusively at the person, not the issue. But at least there is a silver lining: in withstanding these kinds of attacks, one is totally vetted for the next electoral go-round.
Personal-destruction jihad is exactly what the Ruling Class – DC progressive Democrats, Republican anti-Trumpers and the national press – are doing to President Donald Trump in this moment. It was what they attempted to do to Brett Kavanaugh.
It’s what some people do to win political power when they have nothing else.
It doesn’t matter if what they say is true or not. What matters is how much personal damage they can inflict in order to utterly destroy the opposition and thus win the race. Really, it’s a kind of attempted murder and it’s a level of nastiness that Diana and I don’t fully understand.
But not understanding it is OK. One must just know it happens, and then be prepared for it.
Before I filed for candidacy, on October 17, 2017, I published the following on my Make Oregon Great Again website (), referring to the general campaign, should I win the nomination: “Once I file for the gubernatorial race, my intelligence and moral bearing will be publicly challenged by the progressive far-Left contingent, and more often than not those assaults will include the standard epithets: that I’m intolerant, bigoted, a selfish rich-guy, stupid, etc. I just want you to know in advance that my family and I are expecting it.”
But in the primary campaign, we were not expecting this mudslinging from fellow Republicans. A slime-attack from an opponent was unexpected enough, but we never dreamed there would be a coordinated attack from two other candidates: Wooldridge with his sappy, ridiculous stolen valor video and Bruce Cuff too, chiming in: “Sam Carpenter is a disgrace and should immediately drop out of the race.”
Yes, we were taken off-guard.
In an Interview with the Associated Press in early January 2019, after he had lost in the general election, Buehler said, regarding his future intentions in the public arena, that he hopes to “bring civility to politics.” Arrrggghhh!
Some say Buehler is a progressive who entered the governor’s race as a Republican in order to protect Kate Brown. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that. He clearly campaigned against her, desiring to win for himself.
But in his stances, he IS a progressive, and scorched-earth is what progressives do when they have nothing else.
In the end, here’s my view: Buehler is a big government leftist – just look at his positions on the issues. But, in his mind, because he is just a little bit less-so than Kate Brown, he felt he would be a “better” progressive big-government leftist than her. So, he ran against her – and used the Republican Party as his vehicle – not caring one whit about our party or our platform, but simply using our Republican Party as the means to appear on the ballot against her. If Buehler had entered politics 10 years earlier, in the tail-end of the George W. Bush era, he’d have been a Democrat.
If your moderate opponent sounds like a leftist, call that positioning out loud and clear from the beginning. Don’t let up. Keep that opponent on the defensive.
At some point, a large enough collection of anecdotal evidence adds up to real evidence, evidence there is fishiness going on. As grassroots conservatives, let’s not be afraid to tie the evidence together into useful conclusions that can be acted upon.
I remind my fellow grassroots Republicans that this IS war…and winning it begins with establishing assertive leadership in our party organization, an organization that can fend off these progressive intrusions from whichever side of the aisle they may emanate.
As a public justification for attacking me, Buehler accused me of lying, yet he never identified even one of those alleged lies. That’s because there were no lies.
In your campaign, expect the same generalities and be ready to challenge back…but then again, if these accusations come at the end of your campaign, you won’t have much time. Maybe best to get in front of them and let your opponents know you are expecting their barrage.
Or, maybe the ORP will take care of this problem before it emerges.
This is from Knute Buehler in a May 6th, Oregonian article by reporter Jeff Manning. Buehler said to Manning, as he accused me of lying (which, as I’ve said, was itself a lie): “I’m joining… a chorus of voices in condemning Sam Carpenter – including (fellow GOP candidates) Greg Wooldridge and Bruce Cuff – for his false attacks and repeated lies.”
There was no “chorus of voices.” And there was not a single “false attack” from me against any candidate. No lies, either. We were SO careful about that.
Expect this treachery.
As I was being ripped apart with lies, I was incessantly accused of being a liar.
Expect the other side to accuse you of precisely what they themselves are doing themselves.
If you take the lead, be on hyper-defense mode. Treachery will be at-hand.
As I approach the end of this agonizing but necessary summary-chapter, here’s an ironic twist, from a Knute Buehler flier we received at our house in mid-August 2018. In his own words, aimed at Kate Brown, Buehler inadvertently describes his own three-week, damn-the-torpedoes mudslinging tactics against me back in the May primary election. When we first read the following, Diana and I were speechless at the raw duplicity. But in the end, thinking it through, we took grim personal satisfaction at the final “live by the sword; die by the sword” outcome.
Buehler said: “Just a few weeks ago, Kate Brown released a vicious TV attack that had no bearing in fact whatsoever. Why? Because the latest polls indicate we’re in a dead-heat race and gaining momentum.”
Do I hear and echo?
And in an interview with Gary Warner of the Bulletin on December 29th, 2018, just before publication of this book:
Warner writes: “Buehler appeared at the Sentinel Hotel in Portland to concede: ‘Tonight, I lost the election, but I do think this competitive governor’s race has made all of us better,’ Buehler told the subdued crowd. ‘Democracy has won. Competition is good for all of us.’”
“Buehler said he called Brown and got her cellphone voicemail.
“’I never received a call back, Buehler said.
“’I think it highlights what we said throughout the campaign, that Gov. Brown lacks leadership skills,’ Buehler said. ‘People are supposed to be gracious in victory and realize the value in the healing process after an election. It’s a time to take a step in improving the state of Oregon for all the people who voted in the election.’”
For the record, I never received a call back from Knute Buehler when he won the primary. So much for leadership skills, graciousness, and the healing process.
Buehler lost to Brown by 120,000 votes. Live by the sword, die by the sword…
And although I’m not going to go into detail about Buehler’s loss in the general election, I will say this about our observations of the heated big-media back and forth attacks in the final weeks of the campaign. The big question between the two opposing candidates devolved into this: who was the most pro-choice candidate, Kate Brown or Knute Buehler? Using big-media and millions of dollars each, they passionately vied against each other for ownership of that identity.
Has abortion-enthusiasm become a competitive sport?
How did our Republican presence in Oregon come to this?
Of course we lost the 2018 gubernatorial election! Of course we did!