“Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight” (Sean Connery in “The Untouchables”)

For a supposedly a smart guy, Ted Cruz can do some really dumb things and last night we saw it.  Donald Trump isn’t a person who lets by-gones be by-gones.

For a supposedly man of high personal morals, Ted Cruz can do some really ill-mannered things and last night we saw it.  Whether the Convention is “Donald Trump’s House” or the “Party’s House,” the Convention wasn’t “Ted Cruz’s House.”  He lost the primary in decisive fashion and was only given the right to speak by invitation.  I don’t recall ever getting my face slapped by my mom but if I went to another’s house and did what he did, I am pretty sure I’d have gotten the proverbial slap across the face.

The Washington Times is reporting three days ago Donald Trump was told direct by Ted Cruz that he wasn’t going give an endorsement.  My gut is Cruz was expecting Trump would respond by rescinding Cruz’ speaking slot and Cruz would be made a martyr upon which Cruz would launch his 2020 Presidential Race.

Trump instead didn’t respond as expected-  Gave Ted his moment in the spotlight.

And, in the end, Trump came across as the bigger man and Ted Cruz slithered off the stage.

Sidenote:  Cruz said this morning the reason he didn’t endorse admitting it is personal, referring to Trump’s attack on Cruz’ wife and father during the primary.   Ted’s decision to make a national convention the battlefield for a personal matter.  Ted can expect the same from those who have grudges against him.  Death by a thousand nicks is a painful death.

A woman knows the face of the man she loves as a sailor knows the open sea. (Honore de Balzac)

Heidi Cruz:  “We are at a cultural crossroads in our country, and if we can be in this race to show this country the face of the God that we serve — this Christian God that we serve is the foundation of our country, our country was built on Judeo-Christian values, we are a nation of freedom of religion, but the God of Christianity is the God of freedom, of individual liberty, of choice and of consequence.”

Mrs. Ted Cruz before St. Valentine’s Day.

I want to make it clear that I believe Heidi Cruz’ quote about “the face of God” has been misinterpreted and actually accurately reflects the universal call of all Christians to image or mirror God the Father and God the Son to the world.  I do think it is a bit awkward though.

Secondly, a spouse who doesn’t see in the other the face of God likely has married the wrong person or isn’t looking at the other with the eyes one is called to do.

Third, a couple should see their marriage/family as an outward expression of the Trinity, united in Love.

Personally, as we close in on St. Valentine’s Day, I found her statement read in context is quite beautiful.

That said and to just add some levity (not intended to be at Mrs. Cruz’ expense but at the expense of the misinterpretation), when I first saw the headline and way it was presented in the first article I saw which put her husband, his campaign and the face of God in the same sentence, my reaction was:

“Hmmmm.  Didn’t God show up to Moses as a (B)ush?  Aren’t we to aspire to have His face “Trump” our face?”

Have a great weekend.

PS:  The Clinton Campaign has to be in “puke mode” as the recently released Nevada poll shows a dead heat (She was up 23% in the last poll).  AT&T might crash with all the calls to the Vice President.  

In the long run, men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, they had better aim at something high. (Henry David Thoreau)

A lot gets decided in New Hampshire. Trump, Cruz, and Rubio punched a ticket to go on in Iowa. It is said two tickets are available in New Hampshire.  Tickets will go to those who aimed high and then hit it.  Some are going to miss their target.

The following are my thoughts on Saturday night’s debate.

Trump: Winner because he did exactly what a poll leader needs to do- do no harm.

Cruz:   Winner because he had his best debate of the year and seemed the least rehearsed/reliant on stump speech talking points. His only “downer” was not stopping with an apology to Carson and going on to defend the indefensible.

Rubio: Loser not because of the dust-up with Christie and not because he snatched Cruz’ body and sounded rehearsed/reliant on stump speech talking points. I think Rubio lost because Kasich and Bush did so well and he failed to deliver a knock-out punch.

Kasich: Winner because he hit on all notes and basically asked the people of New Hampshire to keep him alive. They tend to pick someone to propel to the next series of primaries and he might be who they pick.

Bush: Winner as it was by far his best debate performance and did so in a way to reinvigorate his supporters and keep his donors on board.

Christie: Loser because anything he draws from Rubio will go to Trump, Cruz, Kasich or Bush.

Carson: Loser because he was missed at the debate. The RNC/Fox digitally making a hologram of Carson to accept the Cruz apology was a nice gesture but who votes for a hologram?

Fiorina: Winner because I think there will be a certain group of voters who think she should have been on stage and will vote for her as a sign of support.

I think we have three questions that will be answered tonight:

Question #1: Will Trump win New Hampshire? While he will underperform his current poll support because of a lack of a strong organization/ground game, he will lodge a strong victory (more than 12%).

Question #2: Will Kasich or Bush get 2nd place and punch a ticket out of New Hampshire? Biggest question of the night.     If anyone does, I think it will be Kasich because he has the best ground game (like Cruz had in Iowa). However, I think a 3rd or 4th place finish by Bush will be enough to keep him in the race.

Question #3: Who will finish higher between Cruz and Rubio? I think it will be Rubio because he has a better ground game and New Hampshire has a tradition of not rewarding the Iowa winner. In fact, if Cruz beats Rubio, it might be terminal.

EXPECTATION THRESHOLDS: (__%) following each candidate is the current poll average at realpolitics.com.  Making predictions is much harder than Iowa because not only are 50% of the voters still considering their final decision, 65% of the Independents aren’t even sure whether they will vote in the Democratic or Republican Primary.  Thus, the measure is who lives up to expectations and who does not.

If Rubio, Kasich, Bush or Cruz exceed my “high” threshold, they will be declared THE winner by the media. If they don’t hit my “low” threshold, they will be declared the big losers. Note: Although these do reflect to large degree my expectations, these are less “predictions” than they are thresholds by which to measure success or failure AND to grasp insight into the future.

  1. Trump (31.2%): I assume an adequate ground game. Because he has none that is evident, I discount his performance against the polls. Threshold: 28%-31%
  2. Kasich (13.5%): Getting 2nd is critical to Kasich. It doesn’t matter how much he loses to the 2nd place finisher, 3rd place will not be enough for him to go onto South Carolina. Threshold: 15%-18%
  3. Rubio (14%): The dust-up with Christie negates his momentum in Iowa. Most importantly it is likely to prevent him from stopping someone from punching a ticket. Threshold: 14%-16%
  4. Bush (11.5%): I have the least confidence in this prediction. One moment I think his support will go to Kasich, the next moment to Rubio, and the next he will take support from Kasich. His New Hampshire organization is a close 2nd to Kasich. I think it as likely he finishes above or below this threshold than inside it. Threshold: 12%-15%
  5. Cruz (11.8%): New Hampshire is not Iowa, polls don’t show him voter’s 2nd or 3rd choice of those not named Trump or Rubio, and I think winning Iowa is a slight detriment in New Hampshire. Only if he finishes in single digits will New Hampshire affect him going into South Carolina. Threshold: 11%-13%
  6. Fiorina (4.8%): My gut tells me she will get a bump because she was left off the debate stage. In the end, I think she will narrowly beat Christie and compete in South Carolina. Threshold: 5%-7%.
  7. Christie (5.8%): He is the weakest of the Governors still in the race and voters will choose to boost Kasich or Bush vs. him.   Besides my Bush prediction, I feel least confident as he could beat this threshold.   Threshold: 4%-6%
  8. Carson (3%): Holograms don’t win primaries. Threshold: 2%-4%

BONUS PREDICTION: Sanders beats Clinton by more than 15% (currently up by 13%).


  1. There has been talk about “lanes.” I’ve never bought the discussion because I don’t think there is ideologically that much difference between the candidates. I think the “lanes” that might come into play are:
    1. Outsider: Combined, Trump, Fiorina, & Carson have 39% support.  Outsiders are attractive to those who want to disrupt the status quo beyond normal.  New faces.
    2. Governor: Combined, Kasich, Bush, & Christie have 27% support.  Governors are attractive to what i call “governance conservatives” who want things to get done vs. gridlock.
    3. Senator: Combined, Rubio & Cruz have 26% support.  Senators are attractive to those who have agenda priorities and want to hear the read meat and “that vision thing.”

If there is a very strong performance by one of the Governors, we could see the race come down to an Outsider, Senator and a Governor vs. the current expectations of an Outsider and two Senators. I can see a scenario where a very strong performance by either (especially both) Kasich or Bush potentially being most damaging to Cruz/Rubio. Surprisingly to me, both pick up the most 2nd place votes from the other. They might need one to drop out to be viable if they get 4th and 5th place.

  1. Rubio is the most nervous candidate in the field while Cruz is the least nervous. A 4th place finish hurts Rubio worse than a 5th place finish for Cruz. If Cruz gets 5th, he can just say “On to South Carolina.”  If Cruz finishes 4th or better, he can claim victory ala Rubio in Iowa. But, if Rubio finishes 5th (and maybe 4th), he will have lost the expectation game, lost his momentum, and created one or two competitors he should have knocked out tonight.
  2. Bush has the most upside. If he finishes 2nd, he is a major player (and may knock-down Rubio) going forward. If he finishes 3rd (especially to Kasich), he can claim victory. If he finishes 4th (currently in 5th), he goes onto South Carolina. Anything worse, he is finished.
  3. Trump has to start developing a traditional organization going forward or he will consistently under-perform poll support. One of his strengths is the band-wagon effect. He can’t afford to get dinged too many times like he did in Iowa.
  4. Endorsements will matter going into South Carolina.   If they drop out, Kasich, Bush and Christie will endorse a fellow Governor (whoever finishes as “Top Governor” in New Hampshire) but Fiorina and Carson will have more impact than their vote support indicates. I think they could even pull soft supporters away from candidates above them.
  5. In 2008, only the top two leaders in the polls exceeded their final poll numbers.   This hints maybe Trump and Kasich will get an unforeseen bump.
  6. In 2012, only the top three poll leaders exceeded their final poll numbers. This hints maybe Rubio will get an unforeseen bump.
  7. Iowa winners dropped both years. Not a good trend for Cruz.

There is no object so large but that at a great distance from the eye it does not appear smaller than a smaller object near. (Leonardo da Vinci)

The GOP race is deadlocked nationally between Trump, Rubio & Cruz but things may change significantly after New Hampshire and when the field narrows.  And, because we sometimes look only at the “present” as reality, we lose track of the “future” realities.  Because there are high expectations the field will narrow to three candidates after New Hampshire (maybe four if Kasich, Bush or Christie exceed expectations), I thought I’d give some analysis of what it might look like when the field is smaller.

Most of the information below came from the most recent PPD poll. The reason I’m using the PPD poll is it provides information heretofore not available (second choice by candidate). I know it is a firm principally used by Democrats. However, when I tested this analysis against some other polls, the results were reinforced.

Horse Race: Trump (25%), Rubio (21%), Cruz (21%), Carson (11%) and everyone else is 5% or lower.

Computation Methodology:  Basically, I added to candidate’s support totals specific second choice votes as a candidate “dropped out.”  For instance, of the 5% of voters who support Bush, 15% of them picked Carson as their second choice.  Thus, I added .75% more to Carson from Bush.  This is referred to below as the “first allocation.”

Then, when Carson dropped out, of the 11% of voters who support Carson (plus the 2% he picked up as second choice which is referred to below as the “second allocation”) was allocated ultimately to a remaining candidate in the proportion that his supporters had other candidates as second choice.  For instance, 25% of Carson’s supporters had Cruz as a second choice so I added 3.25% to Cruz with the dropping out of Carson (FYI:  Cruz picks up support mostly from Carson supporters which maybe explains why the Cruz campaign floated the rumor Carson was dropping out).

Presuming this is a three person race (Trump, Rubio, Cruz), the race looks this way after the first allocation of the second choice votes: Rubio (26.21%), and Cruz (25.67%), Trump (25.31%).

Then, after the second allocation of second place votes (which is really making an assumption of 3rd choice votes), the race looks like this: Rubio (31.42%), Cruz (31.25%), Trump (28.56) with undecided at 8.77%

However, when the voters were asked the question direct in the poll, it is Rubio (34%), Trump (33%), and Cruz (25%) with 8% undecided.  Conclusion: While Rubio is the second choice of 22%, Cruz 20% and Trump only 7%, what you see is that 13% go to Rubio (vs. 10% in my computation), 8% to Trump (vs. 3.56%) and 4% to Cruz (vs. 10.25%).  What this tells us is Cruz is the third choice of very few voters.

Doing the same methodology, in a two person race between Trump and Cruz translates as follows: Cruz (33.23%) and Trump (28.41%) before the second allocation. Because Cruz mathematically picks up votes 4:1 to Trump, the race is Cruz (54.55%) beats Trump (33.87%) with 11.5% undecided.

However, when voters are asked this question, Cruz (47%) is ahead of Trump (41%), 14% go to Cruz (vs. 21% in my computation) and 13% (vs. 5%) to Trump. What this tells us is that while Trump is the 2nd choice of very few voters, he is the third choice vs Cruz of most of the voters when Rubio and the others are gone. Again, Cruz is showing little appeal beyond those who already support him.

As above, Rubio vs. Trump translates very close to Cruz/Trump: Rubio (32.51%) and Trump (29.67%. Because Rubio picks up votes at less than a 3:1 ratio, the race is Rubio (52.4%) and Trump (37.89%) with 11.71% undecided.

While my computation captures the movement to Rubio when voter’s are asked the head-to-head question, Rubio (52%) leads Trump (40%) a bit less. From the current large field when it drops down to a two person race, Rubio picks up 31% vs. 15% for Trump. What this tells us is Cruz’ supporters go almost 3:1 to Rubio vs. Trump. Like Cruz is showing us, Trump too has a ceiling but not as low as that of Cruz. And, Trump is showing himself to be a third choice at a higher level than he is a second choice.

And finally, the race between Rubio and Cruz: Cruz (32.92%) and Rubio (29.71%) before the second allocation. After that allocation, it is Cruz (46.07%), Rubio 39.91% with 14.02% undecided.

However, when the voters are asked this question the results are virtually switched with Rubio (46%) leading Cruz (40%). This again confirms that Cruz has his 21%, is second choice 20% of the remaining 79% but is the third choice of very few not matter what.  What is surprising about this is that while he has a good Favorable/Unfavorable ratio, it doesn’t translate into secondary and tertiary support.  It might be a combination of his fealty to the “very conservative lane” and a personality problem that doesn’t connect with people who don’t agree with him on everything.  I just know that by the end of his 33 minute “Iowa victory speech” I was having trouble listening to the specifics of his words because his nasally voice came across as a long whine.

So, why did I do the math when I just had to look at the poll?

  1. Better discern where the heads of the 33% of the party currently not supporting the top three. They prefer Rubio over both Cruz and Trump by a large margin. And, they prefer Cruz over Trump by a significant margin. But that is today. There is still a lot of campaign for things to change.
  2. Assuming the campaigns are seeing the same thing, I wanted insight in what to expect strategically going forward. Rubio and Cruz gain more by driving the other out vs. concentrating on Trump while Trump needs Rubio and Cruz to eat each other but not so much one drops out. I expect the gunfight to be between Rubio and Cruz and Trump becomes an observer (hard for him to do, I’m sure).
  3. And, #2 also helps Trumps biggest problem: He does worst in head-to-heads with either Democrat. He has no chance to be President unless his Favorable/Unfavorable ratio changes and he becomes more acceptable to Independents and Democrats.

A couple of comments:

  1. This is math. Voters don’t move this way and the margin of error increases as we go down the line in allocations. The direct question asked in the poll is more reliable with regard to where people are today but my math (by missing the answer in the direct question) gives a lot of insight in what might happen when the field narrows and the why.
  2. This is as of now and it is just one poll.
  3. 50% of the respondents said they were open to changing their mind.
  4. It appears that Trump’s core supporters are the highest, Cruz’ second and Rubio’s third.


  1. Unless Cruz starts to expand his base, he needs EVERYONE to stay in the race to get the nomination.  Cruz’ campaign strategy has been centered on two basic principles:  He needs to win the “conservative lane” and either attract some of Trump’s “anti-establishment lane” or knock Trump out.  What this might be telling us is by focusing on a “lane” Cruz has created a hard ceiling for himself as the field narrows.
  2. Trump is best served by a three person race.  This makes sense as Trump’s strategy appears to very “populist” in tone which transcends strict policy ideologies (very conservative, conservative or moderate) in the party.  But it too has a ceiling.
  3. Rubio is best served by a two person race.  I guess that conforms to conventional wisdom that except for Cruz and Trump, all of the other candidates (except for Libertarian Rand Paul) were perceived as not that very different with regard to tone or policy- traditional conservative Republicans.  I never really bought into the conventional wisdom but maybe should have.  I originally thought the race was going to come down to a two or three person race with someone coming out of the “Governor lane” (Walker, Bush, Kasich, Perry, Christie, Huckabee, Jindal), “Senator lane” (Rubio, Cruz, Paul, Santorum, Graham) and “Outsider lane” (Trump, Fiorina, Carson).

P.S.  I do have a draft of a post on New Hampshire predictions but I’m waiting to see the last polls and developments.  While reserving the right to change my mind, I am predicting NH will finish in this order:  Trump, Rubio, Cruz and someone in distant fourth (maybe a surprise).

Never make predictions, especially about the future. (Casey Stengel)

Introduction/Explanation: Anytime you see a (–%) in parenthesis, it is the most recent realclearpolitics.com average. The first section is Iowa averages. The second section is New Hampshire averages.

I’ve been watching the movement and polls and tried to discern what is going on in the GOP Presidential Primary.   Nationally, since there has been so little movement, I can’t even discern a guess.   However, I think I’m ready to make some Iowa predictions. It is noon on Caucus day when I started writing this.

TOP THREE: While there are a few examples of people coming outside the top three in the polls and getting into the top three finishers, the Santorum phenomenon is a one-off (but even then, you saw surging at the end to tell you it was possible). And, the Thompson knocking McCain out of the top three happens on occasion but it was close before Caucus night so the movement wasn’t really that surprising (plus Thompson showed late momentum).

TOP THREE COMBINED (69.4%): This has always been surprisingly stable with maybe a few point uptick if the leader gets a bump (e.g. Huckabee in 2008). Historically, it appears that if people change horses late, unlike a lot of “bandwagon” examples, Iowans don’t jump to the leaders. I predict the total for the top three candidates will be 70%-72%.

TRUMP (28.6%):   While currently leading by 4.7%, the impact of not being in the final debate and having an Iowa organization that rivals Fiorina & Christie’s, I predict that Trump will finish around 20%-23%.

CRUZ (23.9%): As opposed to Trump, Cruz has the best Iowa organization and I predict Cruz will beat his current poll numbers and finish around 24%-28% (if turnout is low, he might even do better)

RUBIO (16.9%): His recent movement in the late polls shows real momentum, similar to Santorum, Huckabee, Thompson, and Ron Paul (2008 not 2012). Because of this, I predict that Rubio will also beat his current poll numbers and finish around 19%-23%.

EVERYONE ELSE: Carson (7.7%) is most likely to get a very distant 4th. However, it is possible that Bush, Huckabee, or Kasich could get a mini-bump and get 4th but I predict nobody but the top three will have double digits.

IMPACT ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: More than percentages, I think New Hampshire will be affected by order of finish.

MOST LIKELY IOWA ORDER: (Cruz, Trump, Rubio): I think then Trump will maintain his lead and New Hampshire will be a race for second between Cruz (11.5%), Kasich (11.5%), Bush (10.3%), Rubio (9.5%) and maybe Christie (6.5%).

2nd MOST LIKELY IOWA ORDER: (Trump, Cruz, Rubio): I think this will be bad for Cruz. It is a state made for him demographically (50-60% of caucus goers are evangelicals) and he had the best organization. He will never find a better environment except maybe in South. It could cause him to fall to as low as 5th in New Hampshire and give the perception he isn’t viable as the nominee because it will expose him as weak in the NE and Midwest which can be extended potentially to the Great Plains, and West. Finishing 2nd will force Cruz to finish in the top three in New Hampshire lest all the air goes out of his balloon..

3rd MOST LIKELY IOWA ORDER: (Cruz, Rubio, Trump): I think this will be bad to Trump but not debilitating. Much of his support is based on “new voters” or formerly “low motivated” voters and the caucus is more intimidating/hard to navigate as compared to normal primary or general election voting. However, getting third will confirm the worst for him- his base isn’t reliable at the polls. Even so, he will still likely be able to win New Hampshire (26% lead) and he has the money to very quickly mobilize a traditional organization in South Carolina and beyond. One thing about Donald Trump is he has shown a great capacity to act and react.

LEAST LIKELY IOWA ORDER: (Rubio, Cruz, Trump): The chances of this happening are so remote that it is hardly worth listing except it is possible (5% chance?) Rubio could narrowly beat Cruz 24%-23% and Trump falls to lower than that. If this were to occur, this hurts probably Cruz the most. Trump will still win New Hampshire and say Iowa was in the past. Cruz however has no place to look for a victory until Super Tuesday.

P.S. If the order is Rubio, Trump, Cruz, Cruz will be devastated and possibly be finished as he could then fall down as far as 6th in New Hampshire.

PEAKING TO EARLY/NEGATIVE MOMENTUM:  Finally, if either Trump or Cruz finish with less than 20% or Rubio less than 11%, they will be in big trouble as they will have lost over a third of their support from the poll averages and the narrative will be Cruz can’t perform in a state perfectly teed-up for him, Trump isn’t invincible and his supporters don’t vote, and Rubio looks good on paper and debates good but doesn’t connect.

Just to be clear, I don’t think the odds are very high that anything but Cruz winning Iowa, Trump getting 2nd, and Rubio 3rd. If this occurs, New Hampshire will be about who if anyone will join Trump, Cruz and Rubio as viable candidates.

But, if any of the other scenarios come to pass tonight, the week between now and New Hampshire will be wild with new life breathed into Kasich, Bush, & Christie as the air is sucked out of Trump, Cruz and/or Rubio.

Sidenote: My guess is Ted Cruz is the second most nervous candidate today. Hillary Clinton has to be first.   A guy at lunch said the other day, “Clinton loses Iowa and New Hampshire, she gets indicted the next day and Joe Biden announces.” I don’t know how true that is but the stakes are almost that high for her- No Democrat has ever gotten the nomination without winning either Iowa or New Hampshire and she isn’t going to win New Hampshire.

There’s a fine line between a stream of consciousness and a babbling brook to nowhere. (Dan Harmon)

Several months ago, I said the state of the horse race in the polls doesn’t tell us anything definitive about the end result. Candidates still need to go out and make something happen.

So what has happened? Not much. Trump has vacillated up and down 5% from 30% and is roughly at his peak.  Cruz has risen roughly 13% concurrent with a 17% drop of Carson.  Except for a short-lived bump by Fiorina, everyone else has basically vacillated just a few points up or down.

Some facts (or meaningless trivia?) since 1972 when Iowa and New Hampshire became the “official” starts of the regular season:

  1. There is a maxim three tickets get punched in Iowa.  (ticket=have a chance to get the nomination)
  2. Similarly, there is a maxim two tickets get punched in New Hampshire.
  3. In the last cycles in Iowa, the top three candidates cumulative poll support is quite close to their cumulative realized voter support. To large degree, the volatility was with the candidates below the top three when on occasion someone jumps into the top three.
  4. Also in the last two cycles, winning Iowa often results in underperforming pre-primary support in the polls. However, being #2 or #3 in Iowa seems to provide a New Hampshire bump.
  5. In Iowa, in both 2008 and 2012, the undecided were about 10%. This year they are less than 3%.
  6. In New Hampshire, in both 2008 and 2012, the undecided were also about 10%. This year they are less than 5%.

So, where are we?


Unless Trump’s debate decision or his weak Iowa caucus ground-game significantly impacts his performance, Trump will punch an Iowa ticket.

Cruz appears to have the most formidable Iowa ground game and will punch a ticket in Iowa (likely finishing either 1st or 2nd). While 2nd in NH, his ground game is considered not top tier and his lead is very small over Kasich, Rubio & Bush who all seem to have better NH organizations.

Rubio’s 3rd place standing in Iowa is a strong 6% lead over Carson and very strong 10% lead over Paul. He is likely to punch his ticket in Iowa but far from assured as I discuss below.

Carson, Paul and Bush are on the bubble looking in. In 2008, Thompson surged (+4.4%) and squeaked into 3rd. And, in 2012, Santorum really surged (+16.9%) to go from 5th to 1st. There is room for only one of these three to stop Rubio from punching his ticket. For Carson and Paul, this is do or die. Carson is the most likely to benefit from a Trump fall-out in Iowa if it occurs.   Bush can hold on because he has already invested in organization infrastructure even beyond South Carolina and Nevada.

New Hampshire

If Trump doesn’t punch an Iowa ticket, he is virtually assured of doing so in New Hampshire where he has a 19% lead over everyone in the field. I doubt the history of New Hampshire knocking down Iowa winners will be able to prevail over this large lead.

Cruz (12.6%), Kasich (12.1%), Rubio (10.6%), Bush (9.7%) and maybe Christie (6.7%) are fighting for the second ticket. Kasich has been recognized as having the best NH organization and is in a virtual tie with Cruz and Rubio for 2nd place. NH also historically lifts someone who didn’t do well in Iowa. And, Kasich has been collecting New Hampshire endorsements like baseball cards, even from former Senator Gordon Humphrey who proudly said he was to the right of Ronald Reagan.

Wildcard: South Carolina

Because this is a primary unlike others (or at least people are saying it is), a case can be made that South Carolina could be a place to punch a ticket to go onto Super Tuesday. Normally, South Carolina’s role is cancel tickets. But because of Governor Nikki Haley and Senator Tim Scott are rumored to be helping Rubio behind the scenes and may endorse him, Rubio is the only one likely to punch a new ticket in South Carolina. Otherwise, all the SC tickets will likely go to someone who already has punched a ticket.

Super Tuesday and beyond: If we aren’t down to three candidates before, I think we will be after Super Tuesday. Trump and Cruz are most likely to be two of those candidates and currently have roughly 55% of the GOP primary voters supporting them. Whoever the third candidate is, that candidate will need help (Trump or Cruz fade) to get the nomination. Otherwise, by the time the primary gets to South Dakota, we will be choosing between Trump or Cruz.

So what does this mean? John McCain is the only candidate since 1972 not to punch a ticket in both Iowa and New Hampshire and go on to get the nomination.   If history repeats itself, right now it looks like Trump will likely punch a ticket in both states and only one of Cruz or Rubio can.

And, if Cruz or Rubio don’t, does that mean the nomination is essentially over?  Or, because this election where there is nothing that resembles history, does one only need to punch a ticket in Iowa OR New Hampshire to move on or could the nominee could come from someone who doesn’t punch a ticket in either state?  How many candidates will be viable on Super Tuesday? Who will they be? Did Trump’s absence in the final Iowa debate help or hurt him? Did Trump’s absence help or hurt anyone else? Did Cruz and Rubio both flub their responses to the video clips on illegal immigration?

Sidenote on Democrats:  They have never nominated a candidate who didn’t punch a ticket in either Iowa or New Hampshire.  Wonder what that means ifSanders wins Iowa.

“You can lead a bureaucrat to water, but you can’t make him think.” (Ric Keller)

Unless the world moves to total anarchy, there will always be a government upon which the people depend. And day-in-and-day-out, there will be bureaucrats who make that government run. They labor in bland offices, they are the subject of jokes and called dumb and lazy (e.g. the title of this post), they seldom get a thank you from those they serve and do so at wages less than they could get in the private sector, especially those who rise up in the ranks, never to move on to greener pastures because they are called to serve the public.

Paul Kinsman was a bureaucrat for almost 30 years and he didn’t need anyone to lead him to think.  He thought, did and served.

When I was in Pierre, I don’t remember his title nor his official duties. You always found him at his desk in the Bureau of Administration. If you needed advice, Paul was always generous with his time and expertise. But, if you needed something that was going to cost money, Paul’s first inclination was it was a “want” and he treated every dollar of taxpayer money as if it was his own last dollar. But, if you came to him with a real problem or opportunity, he could figure out how to solve it and then he would make sure you had the resources to do so.

In the late ‘80’s, state government was getting new desktops, beginning to use email, getting wired, replacing secretarial pools with technology. It was a time when it looked like technology increased inefficiency, not decreased it. Somebody needed to understand the “big picture” lest money was wasted. Paul was that guy making him the “oil” for the bureaucratic machine that is state government. He messed up and things screeched to a halt. He did good and things moved forward at lower cost.

If I were to detail one simple solution, you’d all say “duh” but back then it was innovative. Our Division budget was getting killed with travel back and forth while separation was also killing our ability to get things done at the office. I had an idea my boss wasn’t buying (rightly so it turned out) so I was sent to Paul for a reason I didn’t understand at the time. After I detailed the issues, he authorized giving our Division a laptop (which was a luxury needing the signature of his boss and his boss’s boss). That first laptop was “free” in that it didn’t come out of my budget but was loaned from the BofA. Shortly thereafter, the value of laptops was clear and I was re-configuring my budget for more laptops.

The point is Paul knew travel was slowing the comprehensive move to reliance on technology. He knew laptops were a necessity and not a luxury but he needed a “test case” to prove his theory to his superiors and figured our division staff of people in our 20’s would embrace laptop use.  To this day, I credit Paul Kinsman as the person most responsible for the State of South Dakota being known as a national leader in adopting technology to increase efficiency and reducing costs.

This all said, I would be remiss if I reduced Paul to just a public servant. Paul was at his core a personally kind human being. When his friend Labor Secretary Peter deHueck was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I’m sure Paul was suffering and in need of consolation but he was the one giving everyone else consolation.  When the plane crashed in Iowa and everything seemed turned upside down, Paul stayed right side up.  Too often kindness is seen as weakness. Paul Kinsman showed it is actually strength.  Somehow, I’m pretty sure him watching Peter fade from life prepared him for his own journey to Eternity.

As a former colleague, I’m not sure I really expressed my appreciation for all his help beyond a short “thanks.” I’m not sure I ever really expressed my affection or gratitude for his kindness, especially when I lost people most dear to me in the plane crash (as did Paul). As a “bureaucrat” who served our state with integrity, a selfless spirit, and competence, I know I never thanked him. It is a shame I am doing so upon hearing of his death. But, as much as Paul deserved to hear gratitude for what he did and who he was, he knew he was doing good work and making a difference in the lives of the people of South Dakota and I suspect that was enough for him.

Paul Kinsman, you are the epitome of a public servant and give bureaucrats a good name. We were blessed by your service. Thank you.

Paul Kinsman, Bureaucrat. Rest In Peace.

Incline, O Lord, Your ear to my prayer, in which I humbly beseech Your mercy, that You would place the soul of Your servant, Paul Kinsman, which You have allowed to depart from this world, into the region of peace and light; and unite in the fellowship of Your Saints. Through Christ our Lord,


“Remember this, folks – I am a Hillbilly, I don’t always Bet the same way I talk. Good advice is one thing, but smart gambling is quite another.” (Hunter S. Thompson)

Just to be clear, I don’t think the current state of the horse race in the Presidential race is the best predictor of the ultimate outcome this far from actual voting.   The ground can shift because of a change in prominence of issues (e.g. a major national security matter), perception of positions or the candidate, and changes in the fortunes of one of the leaders, etc. I see a path for all the top six candidates to get the nomination.

What is interesting in the polls is trying to discern how voters appear to be forming their choices.

Over the past few months, the viable candidates’ support has vacillated in a very small range except for Carson. Which leads me to two questions: Why is Carson surging? And is that surge sustainable. To do that, I decided to drill down on the Quiniapac Iowa poll. I’ve always liked Quinniapiac polls especially at this stage because they provide information beyond the horse race and give insight into voter’s mindset/priorities with the question: “Thinking about the Republican nominee for president in 2016, which of the following is most important to you?” and how the candidates stack up on that factor.

Shares values (28%): If a candidate shares my values, it gives me significant confidence they would make decisions that coincide with my values. Even if I disagree on a particular issue, I can get some consolation that if I had the same information maybe I’d choose as they choose. This is always a major consideration in selecting the President. Its where stands on issues are incorporated. A candidate who agrees with me on the issues “shares my values” and vice versa. Carson +72%, Rubio +49%, Cruz + 44%, Fiorina +35%, Bush +9%, Trump -10%

Honest/Trustworthy (23%): Again, this related to values. However, I can never recall in the past where this was necessary to ask because it was assumed all candidates in both parties were essentially honest and trustworthy.  Carson +81%, Rubio +60%, Cruz + 56%, Fiorina +48%, Bush +31%, Trump +3%

Strong Leadership (19%): This factor gets into ability to actually do the job and produce accomplishment. Trump +62%, Carson +57%, Rubio +57%, Cruz + 51%, Fiorina +51%, Bush +38%

Best chance of winning (13%): This factor is a reflection of the GOP primary voter of an understanding a Republican candidate is more often than not better at representing their values than a Democrat. Quinniapac didn’t ask who voters thought had the best chance of winning. I suspect they didn’t ask as it is a guess into the hearts and minds of others and is so volatile it is probably useless data at this time. I suspect it becomes a more important factor just before people vote.

Cares about the needs and problems of people like me (9%): Most Americans think beyond themselves and to the greater good so while important, it usually isn’t as important as “shared values” or “right experience.” However, this is also where stands on issues show up but more with regard to priority of issues by the candidate. A candidate who doesn’t focus on the economy when I’m having economic problems will be perceived to not care about me and my problems. Carson +78%, Rubio +57%, Cruz +53%, Fiorina +45%, Bush +13%, Trump +3%

Right Experience (5%): This factor goes to proven ability to do the job day-in and day-out. In the past, after “shared values” this was a very significant factor. The fact it is down relative to other factors is an expression of the frustration with “experience” making a difference. Bush +55%, Cruz +50%, Rubio +49%, Carson +22%, Trump +15%, Fiorina +14%

Because Quinniapiac didn’t ask voters to rank the importance of the issues I used Gallup which consistently monitors issues for relative importance aggregating Gallups detail into generalities (for instance, lumping foreign policy, international issues and defense together). Quinniapiac asked who voters thought best could handle the following issues:

Economy (29%): Trump 41%, Carson 12%, Cruz 8%, Fiorina 8%, Rubio 6%, Bush 5%

Social Issues (25%): Carson 31%, Cruz 13%, Trump 11%, Rubio 9%, Fiorina 8%, Bush 3%

Foreign Policy (12%): The upcoming CNBC debate is focused on foreign policy. These numbers could change significantly. Rubio 18%, Trump 17%, Cruz 11%, Carson 9%, Bush 8%, Fiorina 6%.

Illegal Immigration (12%): Trump 37%, Rubio 15%, Cruz 14%, Carson 9%, Bush 5%, Fiorina 1%

Finally, Quinniapiac asked what is the best profile to be President. What the following seems to indicate when over 50% of GOP voters support people who have never held office is profile isn’t a significant factor at least at this point in the campaign.

Governor: 38%, Never held office (no experience): 34%, Senator: 15%.

Finally, there is the question of which candidates voters “would definitely NOT support for the Republican nomination?”

Carson (4%), Rubio (5%), Cruz (7%), Fiorina (8%), Bush (21%), & Trump (30%). If these numbers continue to hold, Bush and Trump appear to be the least likely to prevail in a small field unless they are the last two standing.

The combination of all these factors is essentially summarized in the Favorable/Unfavorable perception of the candidate as a whole.

Carson +74%: Carson appears to have a virtual halo above him. While there is likely a strong desire by the other candidates to attack him because he is now leading in Iowa, personally attacking a saint is likely to splash more mud on the attacker than Carson. Because he doesn’t have a record, it will be hard to attack him on issues. This suggests the only way to impact Carson’s support is to make experience the defining issue, whether it be Trump and Fiorina highlighting running a business, Bush running a State, or Rubio & Cruz dealing with the issues of the day in a very real way.

Rubio +55%, Cruz +47%, Fiorina +43%: These three candidates have positioned themselves to pounce on a shake-up both above and below themselves but there may be room for only one to actually get traction from the shake-up. While not suggesting they become fatalistic or passive, their fortunes to large degree depend on the success and failure of other candidates.

Trump +10%: Trump has 43% of the Iowa caucus goers who see him in a negative light despite dominating on leadership, the economy, and illegal immigration. He has to address these current realities or his prospects will dim: Frankly, Trump isn’t “Great” when voters are asked if he shares their values, is honesty/trustworthy, or cares about their problems. A certain segment may agree with him on some specifics but as voters get closer to actually voting, failing the “good neighbor” test will not produce good results. Trump may have killed himself with this response Iowa caucus goers now prefer Carson: “#BenCarson is now leading in the #polls in #Iowa. Too much #Monsanto in the #corn creates issues in the brain?”

Bush -8%: As dugger & Spencer (posted in another thread) noted, this is definitely a problem. Currently 51% of Iowa caucus goers perceive him negatively. Despite being a former Governor (leading profile of voters) and leading with the right experience, Bush is at the bottom or next to the bottom on the issues, leadership, and caring about what voters care about. “Resume” (which also works against him because of his last name) will not cut it.

In short, right now, something tells me I’d rather be Rubio, Cruz or Fiorina right now. If any of them can finish in the top three in IA, NH or SC, their star will rise. Carson’s bubble is inflated beyond what is sustainable, Trump’s “bubble” seems to be so fixed it can’t grow, and because Bush’s “bubble” appears to have a big hole, ironically after earlier being the favorite, if Bush gets the nomination he will be known as the surprise nominee. If Carson, Trump, or Bush don’t get in the top three in at least two of the first three states, their stars will fade.

 Personal comment: I can see no reason for Gilmore, Jindal, Huckabee, Kasich, Christie and Pataki to stay in the race. That said, I think Graham (supporting material intervention in the Middle East) and Paul (opposing intervention in the Middle East) should stay in the race because this is an issue that deserves its own debate.

P.S. Bush’s announcement today of cutting senior staff and other expenses is getting mixed reviews but most reactions are an assertion he is running out of cash. I have a different reaction because the scope isn’t significant enough to extend his runway materially. Campaigns can’t fire the candidate but they can change the team. His prior team was not helping him go forward. To do nothing was more likely going to lead to nothing different and frankly, he needs to do something different. What is clear is the cuts appear to direct resources away from March primary states while preserving organization and advertising funds for Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. This tells me Bush’s team recognizes finishing 6th in the first three states may result in him not getting to compete in the March primary states.

For those who think it mean anything, current offshore betting odds on who wins the nomination:

Rubio: 30% (up 1%), Bush: 20% (down 4%), Trump: 16% (up 2%), Carson: 10% (up 2%), Cruz: 6% (flat), Fiorina: 6% (up 1%).

If one were to bet $100 on all six, one would lose $600 if it the winner were not listed above, lose $265 if Rubio wins, lose $100 if Bush wins, and win money if Trump, Carson, Cruz or Fiorina won (at least $1,000 if it were Cruz or Fiorina). If one were to bet on the three I mention above I think are in the best position, one would lose $300 if Trump, Carson, Bush or someone not listed above were to be nominated and win $35 if it is Rubio, $1,300 if Cruz, and $1,500 if Fiorina. If I were a betting man (and this were legal), I’d make the latter bet.

That said, because betting with money tends to minimize one’s preference and emotion, Bush’s odds should give pause to anyone who wants to count Bush out. And, not get to excited by Trump’s or Carson’s current standing in the polls.

BTW, the betters give Sanders a better chance of winning the Democrat nomination than they give Trump, Carson, Cruz or Fiorina. Draw your own conclusions.

“I’m not lost for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” (Winnie the Pooh)

This is a the beginning of a Presidential campaign without precedent in my life.  The Democrats are offering a person being investigated by the FBI for national security violations, an avowed Socialist and a person contemplating his third or fourth run for the White House.  On the other hand, the GOP has three candidates who have never held elective office currently being supported by over 50% of Republican primary voters, a son and brother of former Presidents, two Cuban-American Senators, and a covey of guys with great resumes unable to register in most polls (two of whom have won the Iowa caucus).

In one week, we have the last of the likely “cattle call” Republican debates, the CNBC debate in Boulder focusing on foreign policy.   The next sponsors (Fox Business/Wall Street Journal & CNN) haven’t released any details on their debate’s format, length and criteria for participation. I suspect both debate sponsors desire a smaller number of participants (like 5 or 6) but are hoping people drop out so they don’t have to make the tough decision to set a realistic criteria of viability.

The Top-tier candidates are Trump (26.2% Real Clear Politics poll average) & Carson (21.2%). These campaigns are starting to flex some muscles. Like traditional poll leaders who avoid or minimize debates, they issued a joint letter threatening not to participate unless the debate was 2 hours long including commercials (leaving effectively 90 minutes for debate). Frankly, it is too early to go into a prevent defense. These candidates are hot. Hot batters don’t ask for shorter games. Point: It looks like Trump and Carson are starting to think they might actually get the nomination.

Bottom Tier candidates . The first choice and second choice level of support for Kasich, Santorum, Graham, Gilmore, Jindal & Pataki does not add up to the first choice of those in the mid-tier. Additionally, none of them have a combination of 1st & 2nd choice above 5%. Unless something big happens soon for Paul, Christie & Huckabee (collective support is 10%), there is no compelling reason for them either to remain in the race. Point: Taking up space is not an accomplishment.

Mid-tier candidates. Bush (1st & 2nd Choice 18%, $10mm Cash on Hand), Cruz (12%, $13mm), Fiorina (10%, $5.5mm) & Rubio (18%, $11mm) have both the money and a base of support to build upon and attempt to attract support from others. Point: Do not panic. Slippage by Trump & Carson plus the support by those who drop off can change someone’s fortunes.

What has happened since August 7th (right before the Fox debate).

  • Carson: Up 15.4% (Up 9.7% in Iowa & 6.5% in New Hampshire
  • Fiorina: Up 4.6% (up 10% in Iowa & 10% in New Hampshire)
  • Rubio:   Up 3.5% (up 4.3% in Iowa & 4.8% in New Hampshire)
  • Cruz: Up 2.9% (up 2.6% in Iowa & 4% in New Hampshire)
  • Trump: Up 1.9% (up 2% in Iowa & 2% in New Hampshire)
  • Bush: Down 5.5% (down 4.5% in Iowa & 2% in New Hampshire)
  • Bottom Tier candidates: Down 9.5%
  • Walker & Perry: Down 12.5%

Point: 27% of support has been in play (from bottom-tier candidates, Bush, Walker & Perry. 60% of it went to Carson.  If momentum means anything at this stage, only one guy has it.

Current Head-to-Head General Election Matchups (Biden beats all GOP candidates, Sanders loses to all but Trump) :

  • Carson-Clinton: Carson by 4.8%
  • Bush-Clinton: Bush by 1.6%
  • Fiorina-Clinton: Fiorina by 1.0%
  • Rubio-Clinton: Clinton by 1.3%
  • Trump-Clinton: Clinton by 2.5%.
  • Cruz-Clinton: Clinton by 7.7%

Point: This is just a baseline to watch as the campaign progresses and probably increases the odds Biden stays out.

 Random Commentary:

Trump & Carson: Trump is loud and brash but has been more measured and thoughtful lately. Carson is quiet, calm and thoughtful but has been more visceral lately. Neither have records so will we demand greater detail from them or will we just allow them to give us platitudes and bromides? As candidates drop out, will they gain additional support or have they hit their respective peaks?

Bush & Rubio: Is there room for two big fishes from Florida? You are now essentially tied. Who will blink first?

Cruz & Fiorina: Is your only hope Trump & Carson fade? Who has the better strategy- Cruz playing nice with Trump or Fiorina taking the fight to the Manhattan mogul? In either case, neither of you have earned any free media since the last debate. Out of sight, out of mind.

Paul, Christie & Huckabee: Time and money is running short. The upcoming CNBC debate is likely your last realistic opportunity for your campaigns running on fumes. Is there even enough fuel to light a spark or are your campaigns dead and you just don’t know it?

Kasich: Whether you are prepared to admit it or not, you are in the bottom tier with Santorum, Graham, Gilmore, Jindal, & Pataki. Whatever path to the nomination when you saw when you announced is likely covered from a mudslide from your answer on the Iran nuclear deal. Scott Walker went back to Wisconsin. Time for you to go back to Ohio.

Actual Betting odds (betfair.com) on winners of the GOP nomination:

  1. Rubio: 3.5/1 (29%)
  2. Bush: 4.2/1 (24%)
  3. Trump: 7.2/1 (14%)
  4. Carson: 12/1 (8%)
  5. Cruz: 16/1 (6%)
  6. Fiorina: 18.5/1 (5%)
  7. Christie 25/1 (4%)
  8. Huckabee: 32/1 (3%)
  9. Kasich: 34/1 (3%)
  10. Other/Rest of the Field: 50/1 (2%)
  11. Paul: 80/1 (1%)

Point: It is my observation betters are better at predicting the future than people who write and read blogs. That said, if I was going with the “smart money,” I like Rubio’s odds better than Bush’s.  If I were going to bet on a long-shot, I’d go with Fiorina.  

Two other parting comments:

  1. I think Trump’s ultimate and best play is broker at the convention.  Because Trump has seemed to settle in at 25% support (and appears to have the lowest ceiling based on his Net Favorable/Unfavorable, winning is less likely in a small field.  However, until the field winnows, he is going to win delegates.
  2. I think Carson’s best play is to endorse someone with the expectation to be Vice-President.    Carson has the highest Favorable and Net Favorable/Unfavorable in the field.  There is probably nobody who could change the dynamic more than Carson.  Plus, it would allay any potential concerns whether his prior experience is sufficient to be President of the United States.


“Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear or a fool from any direction.” (Old West Proverb)

Walter Dale Miller.   Not Walter D. Miller. Not Walter Miller. Walter Dale Miller was at his core a Cowboy from West River, a shrewd politician, and a kind, generous man. He had a unique ability to be all those things at the same time and without an internal or external conflict.

My experiences with Walter Dale occurred when I was an intern for State Representatives Hal Wick and Ron Miller in 1979, working for Governor Mickelson from 1987-1993, and when I ran into Governor Miller after he had left public life.

Cowboy: Did he even own a pair of tennis shoes or dress shoes? I can’t recall him ever not being in a suit, cowboy boots, and having his hat nearby. But, Walter Dale was more than a guy dressing like a cowboy. He epitomized the “man of few words” image of a West River rancher.

Representative Ron Miller (no relation) was a legislator who read every single bill submitted and prepared amendments for nearly every bill. Some were clean-up language, some were substantive. But, I could see the “value” of Ron Miller as a legislator. Hal Wick was a supply-sider before it was popular. He had a single minded focus on lower taxes in general and eliminating taxes he thought were punitive on economic activity. Again, I could see the “value” of Hal Wick as a legislator.

But, Walter Dale was different. While the Assistant Majority Leader, he seldom talked on the floor, in committee, or even in caucus. Yet, I heard over and over in private conversations of lobbyists and legislators “What does Walter Dale think? Is he going to oppose us? Is he going to support us?” My first reaction was “What difference does it make? He doesn’t do or say anything.”

As the session went along, I realized he is really a cowboy on his horse moving the cattle along at a slow but steady pace. Getting one of his “cow hands” like Bud Wood to speak out here. A gentle nudge there. A private conversation here. And, on occasion, a snap of the whip. But, things moved where Walter Dale wanted things to go.

Shrewd Politician: At the core, his shrewdness mirrors the cowboy in him. Two times he said the same thing to me.

The first time, I suspect my boss Ron Miller wasn’t heeding Walter Dale’s advice because he initiated a short conversation with me, a lowly intern, where he said “Ron is spreading himself too thin.” I don’t know what he expected me to do with that admonition and I don’t recall what I did with it but the wisdom stuck with me and my impression of Walter Dale as I’ll discuss soon.

The second time was when I got an email from Lt. Governor Walter Dale Miller to come see him right away. My first reaction was I was in trouble as I’d never heard of anyone getting such a blunt order to see him. I get to his office, going through is then personal secretary and now widow Pat, and enter nervously and he says, “I see you are flying with the Governor. He is spreading himself too thin. You need to do more so he will do less.”   Meeting over.  Again, I’m not sure how he expected me to bridle the race horse that Governor Mickelson was but it again stuck with me.

Why do I tell those two stories? By observation, I learned that Walter Dale didn’t fight every fight. On some issues I thought he’d think were significant, he seemed rather passive. However, over time, I realized still waters run deep and I didn’t know what was happening under the water.  Or, it was a man picking his fight.  Walter Dale never seemed to lose those he chose to fight. Once I figured that out about Walter Dale, I came to realize why lobbyists and fellow legislators always asked “Where is Walt going to be on this issue?” If Walter Dale chose to fight on an issue, depending on which side he was on, it was either a Godsend or a curse.

Kind and Generous: I could simply say in six years working for Governor Mickelson, I never saw him anything but kind and generous, even to those who were opposing him. But, that seems to be insufficient. So I’ll tell you a story.

In 1991, my wife was expecting our last child and it was a problem pregnancy where she was on bed rest for the last six weeks. During that time, it was the end of the legislature and of course hours were intense and long. I tried to check in periodically but it was before cell phones so I was always trying to use an empty desk and the phones outside the Lt. Governor’s office was usually my go-to place because those people were usually around the Legislature. Walt overheard my conversation telling my wife I couldn’t bring her what she wanted. When I hung up, Walt just simply said “I need you to do something for me. Go home for an hour.” It wasn’t a request. It was an order. And it was in the last days of the Legislature where nobody looked away for a second much less left the building for an hour. But, the underlying kindness was overwhelming. I wanted to say thanks but he was already moving about his business. The old cowboy steered the “cow” and the cow did what the cowboy expected. Pretty simple.

To conclude, I need to tell one last story about Walt. I worked in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. We were not only close to Governor Mickelson but our boss Roland Dolly and former boss Ron Reed were also on the plane. Either the morning after or the day after that, now Governor Miller showed up in our office first thing. He didn’t come as our boss. He didn’t come to give us a pep talk or anything like it. He came as a friend also grieving and just told us in a few words that while we still had important work to fulfill Governor Mickelson’s and Rolly’s mission, we lost our friends. So worry more about comforting each other than the work. When he left, most of just went to our desk and cried.  If I didn’t love him before that, I fell in love with him that morning.

Walter Dale Miller, you were a great legislator (twenty continuous years in the House of Representatives), a great Lt. Governor (6 years), a great Governor (2 years), a great statesman these last 22 years. Together it is 50 years serving our state and making it better.

But, more than that, you were a great friend. I didn’t accept the invite to your upcoming birthday because I knew I was coming but to make sure I remember you on October 5th. You did good old cowboy.

While I’m sad you are gone from us, I’m also wishing I could be there when you and our former colleagues greet you. They’ll be a jabbering and you’ll say little. But, you’ll have a heck of a birthday party with them. Please greet them for me for I miss them. We’ll do our best to comfort Pat and your family. I wouldn’t want you to spread yourself too thin.

Eternal rest grant unto Walter Dale Miller, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May Walter Dale Rest in Peace. Amen.