Electing to Murder - By Roger Stelljes


“What have we stumbled onto here?”

Wednesday, October 30th

Dara Wire sipped her coffee. The dashboard GPS on the Acadia said east bound on Interstate 24, now over twenty-five miles east of Paducah, Kentucky. The laptop powered up and glowing in the passenger seat displayed the motorcade of one limousine and two Chevy Suburbans a mile ahead. Wire had safely tucked the GPS tracking device, which was half the size of a dime, beneath the small rubber bumper affixed to the underside of the rear license plate of the limousine. The tracker allowed her to hold back at a safe distance. Nevertheless, she liked that as she looked up from the laptop and ahead through the light rain and windshield wipers, she could see the red string of taillights from the motorcade in the distance.

While unsure of all of the people in the vehicles ahead, Wire knew it at least consisted of Heath Connolly, the vice president’s campaign manager. She was surprised Connolly wasn’t riding with Donald Wellesley Jr., the vice president’s son. The two of them were thick as thieves, seemingly attached at the hip in running the Republican presidential campaign.

A source tipped Wire to the meeting late on Tuesday and the limousine service being used. Her contact claimed he didn’t know exactly what the meeting was about or who was going to be present beyond Heath Connolly. However, it was an unusual trip, one that piqued Wire’s interest. So she flew to Paducah early, planted the tracker on the limousine and patiently waited.

Six days, nearly five, before an election that would be extremely close, possibly Bush v. Gore close, the candidate’s campaign manager, his key political advisor, was a thousand miles from his candidate, taking a late meeting in the backwoods of Kentucky.

What was the purpose of the meeting? It wasn’t an official trip. Wire checked with her source in the vice president’s campaign travel office and the trip was not on anyone’s schedule and whatever arrangements had been made were not made through the travel office. This one was off the books.

There was no Secret Service detail either. Given how toxic his cutthroat approach to politics and campaigning was, Connolly received daily threats. For that reason, the political operative usually had one or two Secret Service men with him during the campaign, but not tonight. There was security, of course, but of the private kind, and it was riding in the Chevy Suburbans fronting and trailing the limousine. Wire could tell that the security was professional, most likely former military or intelligence based on the way they carried and conducted themselves. But the security wasn’t quite Secret Service quality. If it were, the tracking device would have been discovered. Nevertheless, Connolly must have thought the security was sufficient for what he was up to.

And he was up to something.

Wire could feel it in her bones, and so could the Judge.

Wire’s boss, Judge Dixon, was the campaign manager for Minnesota Governor James Thomson, the Democratic Party’s nominee for president of the United States. The Judge was a long-time political player, thoroughly acquainted with the vice president and his merry band of campaigners led by Heath Connolly.

Heath Connolly came off all aw shucks good ole’ boy on television, but he was a disciple of Karl Rove, all political hardball all the time. It didn’t matter how you won—as long as you got one more vote, no matter how you got it, you won. Connolly didn’t care about government or policy. He didn’t give a rip about the rules; losers played by the rules. He was the political equivalent of Al Davis—just win, baby. Connolly did whatever he had to do to win. The Judge wasn’t willing to go to the lengths Connolly would to win; his moral compass wouldn’t permit it. But that didn’t mean Dixon wouldn’t do whatever he could to stop Connolly.

The Judge called in a marker and Wire put her own private business on hold. For the past six months, she was Connolly’s shadow.

Wire reported to the Judge at least three times per day via a private cell phone that only she had the number to. She detailed who Connolly met with, where he went and what he appeared to be doing. That meant tracking him in and around DC as well as around the country, as Connolly liked to get out on the trail with his candidate. Wire collected enough frequent flyer miles in the last six months to last her ten years.

One such trip took her