Sympathy for the Hack

Lately in these virtual pages, I have wondered at the ability of Darcie “Hack” Johnston to repeatedly stick her nose into Vermont politics when she is supposedly managing a gubernatorial campaign in Arizona, for goodness’ sakes.

Well, I think I know the answer. And it actually makes me feel a little bit sorry for the Hackster.

Her candidate is Frank Riggs, a former California Congressman now living in Arizona. He’s one of seven Republicans battling for the chance to succeed outgoing Governor Jan Brewer.

And… er… in a recent poll, Riggs was tied for last place. With a whopping 1% of the Republican primary vote.

One. Percent.

Leading the pack were AZ Secretary of State Ken Bennett, with 20%. Then Christine Jones, a former top executive at, with 16%; Scott Smith, mayor of Mesa, with 12%; there are two others in the mid-single digits before you get to the Bottom Three, all with one stinkin’ percent.

With a campaign like that, it’s no wonder Johnston has a lot of free time here in Vermont. Even she has to recognize that much of a lost cause. Not to mention, I have to think Riggsy is smart enough to cut back on his campaign operation and stop throwing good money after bad.

His dismal showing comes in spite of the fact that he gained the much-prized endorsement of Rick “Santorum” Santorum, he of “man on dog” fame. (It’s amazing how much time social conservatives spend thinking about bestiality and anal sex and gays shoving things down their throats and stuff like that. Seems to be a real preoccupation with them.)

Riggs’ campaign strategery, perhaps informed by the Hack, has basically been to try to out-extreme all the other Republican hopefuls. That’s saying something, in Joe Arpaio’s home turf.  

Riggs has ranted about the dangers of Muslim infiltration via sharia law; he’s warned about the Obamanization* of Arizona through the Affordable Care Act and the Common Core education standards; and, of course, securing the borders against the rising tide of brown people. His campaign has been kneecapped by his own intermittent relationship with the truth (he loudly claimed to be the only candidate with a pro-life voting record, which turned out to be a lie) and his concentration on national issues rather than the real challenges facing Arizona (his latest rant was about the Veterans Administration foofaraw).

*See what he did there? Unsubtle reference to “abomination.” Clever dick.

And as befits someone stuck at 1% in the polls, he’s received precious little attention in the media except when he trips over his own tongue.  

So this is what Darcie Johnston has been reduced to, in her effort to make a living as a campaign operator: repping a joke of a candidate two thousand miles away from her home turf. Sad, and unsurprising; according to Paul “The Huntsman” Heintz’s Johnston profile published last October, Johnston had burned some bridges with the Jim Douglas crowd and established a losing record in her home state:

As her Vermont business dried up, Johnston steadily expanded her reach into Rhode Island, Maine and elsewhere in New England, but few of those races ended in victory.

Her one recent Vermont gig was with Randy Brock’s campaign in 2012. That little disaster did nothing to improve her reputation in these parts. She’s hung on to her gig at Vermonters for Health Care Freedom, but (as Heintz reported) that group’s been much less visible lately. Even last fall, when Obamacare and Shummycare were on the brink of disaster, Johnston seemed marginalized. She was, and still is, the quickest source for an anti-reform quote, but she’s not a serious player in public policy circles.

The Vermont and Arizona gubernatorial primaries are on the same day, August 26. If Brock runs for Governor and wins the primary, you might think that Johnston would cash her last Riggs check and slide into a top job with Brock. From what I’ve heard, that’s not the case. Apparently, even Brock has realized that Johnston is expensive political poison.

So I do feel a little sorry for her. She loves politics, and her employment options are drying up like a puddle in the desert sun.

But I don’t feel too sorry. She’s had chance after chance after chance. Republicans do this all the time: recycling the same failed operatives over and over again, with no regard for their treasured free-market principles. In the marketplace of ideas, Darcie Johnston is a failure. She’s got no one to blame but herself if she’s forced to find a job in the “real world.”

The only injustice is that there are so many other failures who keep on getting more chances to fail.  

7 thoughts on “Sympathy for the Hack

  1. for her victims and any R who wants to win an election in VT.

    Don’t despise the woman just think skills need to be channelled differently.

  2. Don’t cry my friend, cluttered out of state Republican gubernatorial primaries may be her favorite turf.

    In 2009 Johnson’s consulting business ran an event that caused a bit of hubbubbery among Maine’s Republican gubernatorial primary candidates. The problems were fees that Johnson’s company was charging for running an event. One “division” of her company was representing one of the candidates and a separate “division” running the event .Two quotes below are from candidates that had a big problem with this.

    As I have outlined in emails and on the phone with you, the $750 fee for attending was problematic for our campaign right from the beginning. In my 30 years of being a Republican in Maine, I haven’t run across that type of fee charged to candidates, especially this early in an election cycle, and I believe it sends the wrong message to all our hard-working candidates.

    Darcy Johnston of Johnston Consulting, Inc. in Vermont is the organizer of the October 8 event. I am dismayed by this blatent conflict of interest. To know that Darcy is receiving a commission from proceeds of the evening at the same time she is the fundraiser for the Poliquin campaign is inappropriate. [added emphasis]


  3. … I suspect that Johnston gets harsher treatment than her fellow conservative losers of the male variety. Tayt Brooks, Rob Roper, Jim Barnett, Corry Bliss… they can lose as badly, and as often, as Johnston, but they keep on getting gigs. From Paul Heintz’ Johnston profile:

    But Johnston’s detractors – many of whom hail from her own party – tell a different story. Pointing to her dismal electoral track record, her history of scorched-earth tactics and her reputation for being politically tone deaf, they say she’ll only succeed at turning Vermonters off to her message.

    True enough. But you could say the same stuff about Brooks et al.

    Really, all of them deserve Johnston’s apparent fate. But the boys never seem to get kicked out of the treehouse.  

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