Friday, March 7, 2014

A Follow-Up on Dennis Nguyen, Strippers, and Bad Judgment

I have received a lot of feedback about my post from earlier this week regarding Dennis Nguyen.  I would like to address some of this feedback here.

I feel that, understandably, the real issues within the Nguyen campaign are being drowned out by the headlines about Dennis frequenting strip clubs.

While I find the image of Dennis Nguyen and Senator Dave Senjem throwing dollar bills at college-age women disturbing, I understand that the activity in question is not illegal, and, depending on who you ask, maybe not even uncommon.

The bigger issue here, and the one that should receive more attention, is one of judgment.

Going to a strip club is a public act. We’re not talking about what goes on behind closed doors in someone’s bedroom. The activity that takes place at a public place is public, by definition.

Nguyen’s decision to participate in this action, along with another high profile politician, shows an appalling lack of judgment.

That the campaign stubbornly refused to believe that the story of Nguyen’s behavior could potentially cause damage to his campaign, compounds this error.

The decision by Nguyen’s campaign not to disclose this story in advance to the 60 or so legislators who at one time endorsed Nguyen is another example of his bad judgment.

The campaign had advance knowledge that this story was going to break, but chose not to inform the elected officials who lent their name to him as a show of support.

It’s pretty clear this decision backfired, as I noted on Twitter yesterday that all mentions of Nguyen’s legislative support were removed from his campaign website.

In another example of extremely bad judgment, Nguyen’s campaign made the bizarre decision of injecting abortion into the Secretary of State race, by stating yesterday to City Pages that Nguyen is pro-choice.

The campaign then waited a full day to “correct” the story and now states that Nguyen is “very pro-life” and blamed the “mix-up” on his campaign manager’s busy day, a “clarification” that strains credulity.

In December 2013, political consultant Gregg Peppin had this to say about Nguyen’s campaign:

Peppin thinks Nguyen’s main concern should be about avoiding “unforced errors” on the campaign trail, the kind of verbal or messaging missteps that often hurt a first-time candidate.

I think it’s safe to say Nguyen has been less than successful in avoiding unforced errors.

Dennis Nguyen gave it a shot and tried to run for office. He should be commended for that. He has a compelling story, and there may be a role for him within the Republican Party.  But he has proven that he does not have the judgment or discipline to run a successful statewide campaign.

It’s time to move on and find another candidate.

Note: There has been some confusion as to whether Nguyen is for or against Photo ID. From the same article as I linked above:

Along those lines, Nguyen said he plans to avoid the topic of photo ID at polling booths altogether, arguing that any move in that direction could disenfranchise recent immigrants like himself.

If he is claiming to be in support of Photo ID, he has evolved on this issue, albeit not as quickly as he did on abortion.