This is part III of a four-part series. Here’s part I and part II.
Why did Holzer choose last week to out himself? Why show himself now, putting his old boss, John Brunner, in such a bad light? And right before the August 2 primary?
Holzer has damaged Brunner’s reputation and credibility. And Brunner spent a ton of his own money in the process, including paying $100,000 to the guy who made the video, then squealed about it. It almost looks like Paul Holzer meant to take out Brunner, does it not?
Who Pushed Holzer to Show Himself?
You, like me, probably don’t believe Holzer did this on his own. Who told Holzer to show himself two weeks before the election?
Let’s look at all the major missteps in the Brunner campaign so far:
- Brunner’s former campaign staffers, Eric McLean and Paul Holzer, set up a PAC that launched a fake EricGrietens.com website to smear Greitens, denying they received any compensation for the site.
- Brunner consistently denied any connect to the fake smear site, even after the press reported the site’s links to the Brunner campaign.
- Brunner secretly recorded a phone call with Eric Greitens, a dirty trick that Jane Duecker and Mark Reardon of KMOX both called “sleazy.”
- Brunner then leaked that audio recording. (You’ll want to read I Know It Was You, Fredo.) Even sleazier.
- Brunner pushed an anti-Greitens video released anonymously, again claiming to have no idea who made the video. We now know that Paul Holzer, Brunner’s former chief of staff, made the video.
- Now it looks like the Brunner camp took Paul Holzer on a media tour in Missouri, more or less admitting Brunner had been lying about connections to the video all along.
To the casual observer, it seems Holzer’s media tour was intended to take out Brunner, not Greitens.
Here’s my hypothesis.
Peter Kinder and Catherine Hanaway are both political insiders and known quantities. The Republican establishment in Missouri will always prefer the devil they know to the devil they don’t know.
It’s reasonable to assume that the establishment, in the form of Missouri’s political consultants, used Brunner’s money and campaign to hold Greitens down. They’ve done a good job getting a lot of conservatives freaked about Greitens’ conversion to conservatism. In fact, the many lies and innuendoes about Greitens have driven a lot of conservatives to flat-out hate the guy. I never thought I’d see my friends from the Tea Party mocking and denigrating someone’s military service, but that’s exactly the depth a lot of them have sunk to.
When you look the polls, you find that all four candidates hover around 20 to 25 percent with Greitens holding a slight lead. Because of the animosity, Brunner’s supporters feel toward Greitens, the party’s consultants assume that disaffected Brunner supporters will defect to Hanaway or Kinder, but not to Greitens.
In other words, I think the Missouri political class used Brunner as a stooge, and now they’re done with him. To ensure the GOP nominee is acceptable to the political class, they set Brunner up for a late fall. That political will probably work for Chris Koster in the general election just to keep their power. Koster’s an elitist, too.
All this could happen without Hanaway’s or Kinder’s knowledge. Certainly, the operatives had to keep Brunner in the dark. I bet John Brunner was as surprised as anyone when Paul Holzer showed up for a series of interviews two weeks ago. Brunner is smart enough to know that exposing Holzer this late would destroy Brunner’s credibility, not Greitens’s because Brunner denied any connection to the video for months.
Will Brunner Sing?
John Brunner was pretty bitter and angry after that 2012 defeat. He told friends he’d never again fund his own campaign, and he’d never again work with a consultant. Those were, of course, empty promises. But if Brunner felt used after 2012, how do you think he’ll feel this time?
Will Brunner finally sing?
If I were a reporter, I’d stay very close to John Brunner on August 2.
For the record, I endorsed Eric Greitens because I believe breaking up the state’s political establishment is the most important thing for Missouri. I also think Greitens is the Republican candidate who can beat Chris Koster.