When the rather lopsided presidential nomination results came out (Rev. Matthew Harrison: 1,332; Rev. Gerald Kieschnick: 755), I wondered whether we’d see a repeat of 1973 when the #2 vote-getter simply dropped out. It doesn’t look like that will happen this year. I asked some of my sources who are close to President Kieschnick and they insist that he is definitely “in it to win it.”
According to them, President Kieschnick promised supporters “I WILL win: I have a plan.” And all options are on the table. They say that one of the ideas on the table includes losing 1st VP Bill Diekelman. I am not entirely sure what that means or why such a thing would help Kieschnick’s prospects. I heard that the Kieschnick team was “shocked and stunned” about Harrison’s strong showing and are trying to figure out how to drive down his popularity.
Whatever else might be said about President Kieschnick, I think everyone agrees that he has excellent political skills. He’s good at vote counting, political positioning, knowing when to communicate something himself and when to have district presidents (or other prominent friends) do it. This is not a bad thing — in fact, political management is usually value neutral.
Obviously the convention has already been scheduled to maximize his time before delegates prior to the vote – two days that other nominees won’t have. And he has led regional gatherings in front of the delegates over the last few months and will have additional opportunities in the next few months. Whether that additional time helps Kieschnick or hurts him remains to be seen.
Kieschnick has granted circuit exceptions in previous conventions – thereby increasing delegate counts, but those proved fairly controversial so I’m skeptical that we’ll see more of that this year. I think it would anger delegates.
President Kieschnick does have things going in his favor – the synod’s media shop probably couldn’t be friendlier or more supportive to him. They tend to downplay news that favors others and trumpet news that favors Kieschnick. On the other hand, do delegates even pay much attention to the Lutheran Witness and Reporter any more?