Typically, I’m not one who gives two Schlitz who an elected official’s spouse or partner is. I think there are certainly conflicts of interests that arise between a family member and an elected official that could pose a challenge during a campaign that are certainly fair game (see Sen. Udall and wife Maggie Fox, Rep. Perlmutter and former-wife and lobbyist Deanna Perlmutter, etc.).
But, very rarely would it ever be appropriate to question who a candidate is dating. Recently-divorced Governor John Hickenlooper let fly that his campaign prohibits him from dating during his re-election campaign. He told Maureen Dowd, “I really can’t date. Political enemies would attack whoever the person was for whatever reason unless it was just exactly perfect.” There is simply a lot wrong with this statement.
First, any single candidates out there, here is some free advice, always show concern for the other person, over yourself. The stock line is, “With my schedule and exposure, it’s a lot to ask someone to always ride with my security detail and step into the limelight. I wouldn’t put anyone through that.” Instead, Hickenlooper seems more concerned with how his date will impact him and his candidacy and accuses his “political enemies” of making an issue of who he was dating without any examples or prior history of these attacks. No one “attacked” his ex-wife. No one attacked Guv. Ritter’s wife. No one attacked Sen. Bennet’s wife. Heck, no one attacked Senate President Morgan Carroll’s boyfriend. Which begs the question, “Who do you want to date?”
If we take a look at the most recent governor dating scandals we find the South Carolina guv traveled to Argentina to be with his mistress or the New Jersey guv who announced that he was in fact gay. Certainly, from a campaign manager perspective, these dating issues would impact the campaign or at least challenge their messaging. But to simply just date someone would actually be a good thing for the campaign.
Campaign managers are focused on reducing risk for the campaign. Maybe it’s my cynical side, but it’s the way the governor made his statement to Dowd that indicates there would be a reason to question who he was dating. I’m not sure who an “exactly perfect” date would be for the governor, but I’m sure it’s a very long list of women without a conflict of interest with the governor’s office. However, if Curtis Hubbard is worried about the governor dating, it means who he dates would be a distraction from the campaign.
Maybe I’m reading too much into this. But there does seem to be more to his statement. Living your life in a way that insulates you from any criticism is boring and lacks honesty. But hey, doesn’t that describe Hickenlooper’s first term?