This will be a review of a political lesson I first encountered in 2012, and only recently came to fully understand. It involves Montana Senator Jon Tester and his opponents Denny Rehberg and Dan Cox. Party designations are mere surface phenomena, but it is important to know that Cox ran as a “third-party” Libertarian.
Tester was first elected in 2006, defeating 18-year Senator Conrad Burns, a well-entrenched player who could only be unseated by a scandal. One was provided – Jack Abramoff, a candidate for our “Get Out of Jail Free Card” series (incarcerated at Federal Correctional Institution, Cumberland, Maryland, a minimum security prison, inmate #27593-112). Abramoff intimated that he got whatever he wanted from Burns’ office, which might well have been true. The important feature, however, of that relationship is that it received mainstream media attention (see here and here, for example). Normally corruption is ignored in our news. This means that Burns was being targeted and tainted, and was on his way out of office. His replacement had already been selected.