Mutually assured destruction in primaries

Avoiding mutually assured destruction in primaries

Avoiding mutually assured destruction in primaries

On Tuesday, Kentucky held its Gubernatorial primary. As of this writing, businessman Matt Bevin was leading the 4-way primary by 83 votes. 

Six months ago, the primary was expected by many to be won by either former Louisville city councilman Hal Heiner or Agricultural Commissioner James Comer. 

As polling showed the race a dead heat, and as Election Day neared, Comer and Heiner got into some heated mudslinging. National Journal recapped the personal fighting here. Bevin mostly stayed out of the mudslinging, only running an ad poking fun at Heiner and Comer for the way they conducted their campaigns. 

You can see that ad here: 

The fighting probably cost Comer the race (pending a recount). And while there's little you can do about a campaign getting nasty in the general election, primaries are a little different. 

The takeaway is this: if you have a primary opponent, sit down with him early on in the race and try to set some ground rules. It's not a perfect solution - the candidate down in the polls may decide to break the rules - but do make an effort to at least get to know one another personally. 

In a primary, you and your opponent are likely in agreement on a number of issues. You likely have gotten to know each other over the years at events. 

Taking an hour to grab coffee early in the campaign might help you avoid mutually assured destruction. 

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