Gosh, it’s tough having to run for office without already being a permanently entrenched incumbent who can just snap his fingers and instantly command vast resources and firepower. These out-of-work career politicians really have my sympathy.
Consider, for example, the plight of former California Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa. He’s running for mayor of Los Angeles after having been termed out of his job in the state legislature. He says it would be a lot easier to campaign if he were still in office. “Would I prefer to be speaker right now?” he asks rhetorically. “Absolutely. . . . If I call a press conference [these days], no one shows up. If you do it as speaker, everyone’s there. . . . And, you can raise money if you’re already in elected office.” Straight from the horse’s mouth, folks. The incumbents themselves admit that incumbency as such confers huge advantages over challengers on the campaign trail. From which fact one can readily deduce that term limits helps even the playing field.
As the Los Angeles Times points out, the benefits of incumbency are “immeasurable.” They include “a battle-tested army of aides, ready attention from the media, and that most important political asset of all, access to money.” The political consultants agree. “The advantage of incumbency is amazing,” says Rick Taylor, a political consultant in LA. Campaign manager Ace Smith says, “If you’re a [known incumbent], you have Rolodexes the size of oil drums of people you’ve helped for decades. You just dial for dollars.” Just dial for dollars? Sounds like fun. Maybe too much fun.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.