Last week some of us attended a function for Tom Foley, a gubernatorial candidate for Connecticut that was being hosted by some friends of the firm. While Hedgeye does not have a political affiliation, a fact about Mr. Foley that interested us is that he has never before run for office. He has, however, enjoyed considerable success in the private sector and served in overseeing some of Iraq’s state-owned businesses in 2003 and 2004. His platform includes a focus on jobs, balancing the budget through controlling spending, reducing taxes, reducing healthcare costs, and other issues. Through reining in spending alone, Mr. Foley claims to have identified $1 billion of savings – with a $3 billion deficit currently projected in 2012.
Outside Connecticut, many more “non career-politicians” could be making forays into the political sphere over the coming months and years. Allen Alley (candidate for Governor of Oregon), Keith Lepor (candidate for U.S. Congress in the 9th Congressional District of Massachusetts), and Jeff Greene (candidate for U.S. Senate from Florida) are but three other candidates running for public office with extensive experience in the private sector and similar views on the inability of those currently in office to resolve the major issues, particularly those related to deficit reduction. Having actually managed a P&L or budget will likely be a real advantage to these folks if they are elected.
While virtually all politicians, incumbent or not, are pledging to address unemployment and public deficits, it is clear that public opinion is swaying against those currently in power. Public opinion towards those in Washington, in particular, is interesting to consider. Since the market-bottom on March 9th, 2009, Congressional approval ratings have made a series of lower highs. The idea of candidates with proven problem-solving experience in the private sector and clear ideas on how to address the burgeoning debt loads on the public is appealing in light of the seeming inability of many currently in office to do so. For candidates running for office, a lack of political experience may become an attribute in the eyes of the voting public.
We called the Bubble in U.S. Politics out earlier this year. The most noteworthy trait of the implosion of this bubble could be the declining acceptance of career politicians' inability to represent voters and create effective solutions. While anti-Washington or anti-politician sentiment is nothing new, the generational lows in acceptance and approval of these politicians certainly are. As this Bubble in U.S. Politics bursts and the career politicians find new careers, perhaps then people will begin to trust the process again, which will be a good thing for America.
Daryl G. Jones