UPDATE: The Rise and Fall (and Rise?) of Jamie Radtke

Erick Erickson has walked away.

After this incident, perhaps I was a bit too vocal I’d not actually be supporting her campaign. I assume this act of self destruction in front of 400 attendees of the RedState Gathering is why Jamie Radtke’s campaign decided to orchestrate a hit job on me in the Politico after I both endorsed her campaign and allowed her to speak at my event.

Over the past number of months we have fronted multiple posts to the front page by Jamie Radtke and others touting her candidacy. I’ve made clear repeatedly that I would not be supporting George Allen because, while he will fight the Democrats, I see no indication he’ll ever fight Mitch McConnell.

In any event, the Radtke campaign clearly was not getting traction and they and their proxies began incessantly harassing me to write about her campaign and do what I did for Marco Rubio and Mike Lee.

I didn’t want to be the bad guy or burn a bridge needlessly, so instead of saying I wouldn’t because the campaign sucked and was going nowhere or that I would wait and keep being pestered with “now will you do it”, I told them I could not. It seemed at the time to be the easiest way out.

I was certainly wrong.

…and Erickson’s heartfelt response to Radtke’s fumbling speech at The Gathering was cued… by this:

Ouch.

Harassment by proxies has been a hallmark of the Radtke campaign, an effort that has been hobbled by well-intentioned but inexperienced staff — or worse, the more malicious who see a paycheck by riding and burning Jamie’s reputation for every dime that can be squeezed out of it.  Ergo, when Erickson didn’t play ball… this was the Politico hit piece:

The endorsement, Radtke campaign manager Carter Wrenn said, gave the campaign a boost. But soon, he noticed that RedState wasn’t giving Radtke’s campaign much attention.

Way to treat your friends.  See what I mean by a poorly run campaign?

Jamie Radtke is a good and dear friend, and a veteran of many a political battle for conservatives in Virginia.  This is not the first defection from the Radtke coalition over the course of the past few months.  The Tea Party has split down the middle, social conservatives are on the outs, key supporters are folding, the money simply has not materialized…

Perhaps it is time to concede the field and apply talents elsewhere?

Erickson feels burned, and for good reason…. and sadly, not because of anything Jamie Radtke directly did.  But he’s not the only one, and there’s plenty of evidence to show that Jamie’s good name has been misappropriated and abused.  So yes… when I speak of this race, I get angry about it, because Jamie deserves a hell of a lot better.

For Radtke 2012, it’s time to fold the hand, walk away from the poker table, and fight another battle in the war for the soul of America.  There’s plenty more to be done… just not in the U.S. Senate (for now, anyway).

UPDATE: …and who’s the tool that inspired the Politico story?  Dan Reihl… not exactly the biggest fish in the pond, but yeah… this Dan Riehl:

I’m guessing Dan latched on my emailing our mutual friends, convinced himself I wanted to get him fired instead of just calmed down, and decided to go all junior high cat fight on RedState and me. While I was out of town this past weekend a war of words on Twitter ensued with Riehl suggesting our founder, Josh Trevino, had sex with sheep, and the inevitable back and forth.

I can now confirm Dan Riehl is the original source to the Politico regarding the Radtke story.

Well played, Dan. Well played. The Radtke campaign owes you big time.

Sometimes the collective forces of the internet act like junior high school girls.

Great observation on the “junior high school girls” slam on the more vehement and radical of Radtke’s supporters.  Namely because they are using her to stab Allen in the face — not working to get Jamie elected.  Again… abusing Jamie’s reputation for nefarious ends…

Erickson is still very clear that he has no intention of supporting former Governor George Allen.  Which makes the Radtke comments below odder still.  Erickson doesn’t disagree with them regarding Allen.  Erickson no longer believes that Radtke can do the job.  Interesting…

UPDATE x2: Radtke supporters are insisting there is video of the speech.  Since Radtke campaign staff should have recorded this speech (after all, this was at the RedState Gathering and an important campaign diversion), then we will post the video the moment it is released.  Please feel free to post the YouTube link in the comments section.

UPDATE X3: So no video is being produced by either RedState or the Radtke campaign… but the leftosphere is just giddy with the prospect of tearing down RedState once and for all.  Fron the Atlantic Wire:

We asked Politico’s Ben Smith if Riehl had been his original source and, predictably, he declined to comment. Riehl also declined to say if he provided Smith with any information saying “this isnt my fight and im just watching. I have nothing to say about anything one way or another.” Still, it’s clear Erickson is somewhat furious with Riehl. The signoff on his latest post accuses the blogger of acting like “junior high school girls”

For his part, Riehl wasn’t quite ready to throw a punch back. “I don’t follow RedState or watch CNN,” he tells The Atlantic Wire. Looks like things in the righty blogosphere are getting personal!

…as designed to do so by the Politico piece.  Not only does the dirty laundry in the Radtke campaign get aired, but now we get to have a national level discussion on how RedState is financed.  Brilliant!

UPDATE x4:  Guess some folks think we’re being too harsh on Jamie… and other folks?  Well, I’ll let the Richmond Tea Party’s Sara James spell it out:

Jamie Radtke is the candidate. She has the final say in what supporters she very actively courts, she has the final say about who manages and plans her campaign.   She has the final say in who she shares updated campaign info with in order for them to work the blogs on her behalf.   They’re called “surrogates” – and a candidate should choose them wisely.

If she hasn’t, well, that tells you something…… that  many of us already know. She is not anywhere near ready to be a US Senator.  The fact that she even thinks she is is, is what should scare people most of all.

A victim, she is not. If she is listening to campaign managers and high priced consultants who tell her they can get her elected, that they can make her a “rising star” in the movement, that they will get her gigs with all the big radio stars or talking head shows and through their contacts, all the right people will support her, and the money will come   – it is because she thinks highly enough of herself to believe them.  That’s not being a victim, that is being narcissistic.

Ouch.

Extra points for the Scarlett and “RhettState” lines, though.

UPDATE x5:  Dan Riehl sheds some light on what happened:

In addition to that, for the first time ever, a GOP Presidential candidate had recently announced his Presidential campaign at the very same venue. There is no reason to suspect Radkte had prepared remarks, no reason to assume she had any preparation. And now, under those circumstances, a bunch of RedState readers led by its editor have decided to pronounce her a rambling drunk. I see nothing funny in that, nor annything the least bit helpful as a reflection of what it means to be a proud conservative. Frankly, it disgusts me. I stopped reading RS last week after some previous issues. After today, I am more than convinced I made the right decision. (emphasis added)

So my original suspicions were right.  Not drunk… but rather, an off-the-cuff speech.

Riehl is incorrect about the lack of preparation, as Radtke’s campaign had been trumpeting her introduction of the Palin film for some time. A poorly-delivered extemporaneous speech united with elevated expectations and poor campaign field work is the best explanation for what happened.

UPDATE x6:  Woah!  Looks like Radkte just unleashed the lawyers

Jamie Radtke tells Scott Conroy of Real Clear Politics that she feels it is libelous for observers of her speech to say she was drunk as she says she was not drinking.

Okay.

Jamie Radtke says she was not drinking and I will believe her.

That, friends, makes reports of her performance at the RedState Gathering even more appalling.

Ryan Nobles over at NBC 12 has the scoop:

MT- @RealClearScott#VASen cand. J Radtke’s lawyer to issue letter to Erick Erickson demanding “immediate retraction”: http://bit.ly/oky221

Dan Reihl’s account of a rambling but not drunken speech seems to be panning out.  Which is altogether a sideshow of the RedState-Radtke drama, but nonetheless an interesting development if Team Radtke has indeed lawyered up.

Erickson has updated his post… but is not removing the comments from spectators in the crowd who, indeed, claim she was “drunk” during her speech.

Junior high school, indeed.

UPDATE x7:  Radtke for Senate issued a campaign statement today.  The letter from legal counsel can be viewed here.

“Erick’s blog goes beyond the pale,” Radtke stated. “He crossed the line by publishing complete falsehoods. Now, it is his responsibility to admit he did wrong, set the record straight and apologize – and that is what I am asking Erick to do.

“This kind of scurrilous behavior and treatment has been repeatedly carried out on tea party leaders and conservative candidates who dare challenge the good ‘ole boy Washington Establishment. This attempt by the Washington Establishment to destroy the tea party and their candidates must stop. Enough is enough.

Unfortunately for Radtke, opinions of her speech aren’t “defamatory” in the slightest.  They’re opinion.  Protected by this.

Jamie’s press release?  Fantastic.  Well played.

The legal option?  Dense as a ton of bricks.  What ever happened to the Jeffersonian dictum?

“Error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.”

Wincing a bit here.  Does the Tea Party truly intend to take on the largest conservative blog in America?  They have to know that — however false the claims might have been — they were opinions from the crowd and repeatable… and going after the First Amendment in order to score a few political points?  All the while, the MSM is circling like buzzards.

But taking on RedState?  The blog that made Marco Rubio and pushed the 2010 takeover?

Gotta be smarter than this.  Good press release… bad strategy.

UPDATE x8:  The Washington Post’s Ben Pershing comes out with an amazingly well-balanced look (dare I use the word… reporting?!) at the whole “junior high school” spat — and how this developed:

But perhaps an endorsement wasn’t good enough. On Wednesday,Politico’s Ben Smith reported on an e-mail from Erickson to the Radtke campaign in response to a request from Radtke that she be allowed to speak at RedState’s convention, which happened in mid-August.

“My bosses are huge Allen friends, not just fans. They are socially connected,” Erickson wrote in the message, which was sent to Politico by Radtke’s campaign manager. “So I’m having to tread carefully in this. Happy to help, but it’s got me in a difficult position. So please come and let me introduce you to people, but just understand that I have to be delicate for now.”

Erickson’s “bosses” are the executives who run conservative Eagle Publishing, which owns RedState. In his own response to Smith’s queries, Erickson said Eagle officials “asked [that Erickson] go slower in evaluating that race instead of diving in head first.”

“It was not a commandment or order, but out of respect to the long-term relationship George Allen has with Eagle, I thought it was a reasonable request; I was happy to accommodate.”

A clearer picture is starting to emerge here.

Erickson endorsed, but Radtke’s campaign wanted more.  When Erickson explained how more could not be given, but he was happy to accommodate.  Which is when Radtke’s political consultants then turned up the heat after a disastrous speech and — indeed — executed their their threats to burn Erickson to the ground.

In short, when Erickson tried to explain that he was walking a tightrope, Radtke’s campaign staff punched him in the face.

This is not looking good for Radtke’s campaign consultants, particularly for Carter Wrenn.