Bully For Cruz

So your name is Ted Cruz and you have a reputation as something of a bully, to the point where your resemblance to the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy is a natural point to make and a potential problem for your presidential campaign. You’re also considered to be reckless and irresponsible by the vast majority of elite types in your party. Do you really want to have as your “chief strategic and logistics decision-maker” a guy who’s been associated–some would use the stronger term “implicated”–in the suicides of two Republican politicians in his own state?

That’s where the junior Senator from Texas finds himself as controversy continues to swirl around Missouri-based political consultant Jeff Roe, who was responsible for an attack ad run against Missouri auditor Tom Schweich shortly before the GOP gubernatorial candidate took his own life amid signs he thought he was the object of a “whispering campaign” emanating from the state GOP party chair. More recently, Schweich’s press secretary, who had publicly called for the resignation of the state party chair, committed suicide as well. And while Roe has not, at least publicly, been tied to that second tragedy, the whole scene is a disaster.

It doesn’t help Roe that former Senator John Danforth, Missouri’s most distinguished Republican, who (as an Episcopal priest) presided over Schweich’s funeral, publicly fingered Roe as a “bully” who was culpable in the tragedy.

The “bully” label isn’t a new one for Roe. In a profile of the consultant that details a long string of dubious tactics against political opponents, MoJo’s Pema Levy suggested Roe almost courted the appearance of impropriety:

[I]n the aftermath of nasty elections, Roe’s candidates often won. And he has embraced his bad-boy reputation. An Axiom [Roe’s consulting firm] promotional video brags of Roe’s “well-deserved reputation for being ruthless” and notes that his “controversial campaign tactics are the stuff of political legend.”

Turns out Roe’s most recent political outing wasn’t so successful: all four of the candidates for Kansas City Council whose campaigns his firm ran were defeated in an April 7 election.

Bully for him and for Ted Cruz.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.