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Friday, 3 August 2018

Wild West Campaign: County Seat

At the start of 1881, in consideration of the rapidly-growing population and developing towns of Arizona, the vast Pima County is split up. As a result of this, Tombstone ends up as the largest city in the new Cochise County, and a special election is held to determine the legislator for that new county.

Naturally, this is the chance that Johnny Behan had been promised by his Democrat allies and had been waiting for, and he announces his candidacy, with the backing of the Cowboy gang. The Republicans are not so sure, but John Clum knew he'd need a celebrity to beat Behan.  He convinced Kid Taylor to recruit Wyatt Earp to the Republican cause.

Earp took less to be convinced than Taylor thought he'd need, being drawn by the chance of bribe and influence derived wealth that being a county legislator could give him, and by the chance to beat Johnny Behan. Earp claimed that he just didn't like Behan because he was a dandy, but Taylor suspects that the real cause might be on account of Behan being the live-in boyfriend of the beautiful singer Sadie Marcus, who Earp is clearly hot for.

Meanwhile, Crazy Miller is summoned to Old Man Clanton's ranch. Clanton wanted assurances that Miller will be on board to make sure that Behan wins. This is essential for the Cowboys because having a powerful political ally will make sure they will be unmolested in their ongoing criminal activities.

One of these criminal activities includes Horse Rustling. And as Miller is heading back out, he sees, among the horses in the pasture, a steed that he recognizes: a horse that had been stolen from Wyatt Earp many months ago. He turns around and questions Pa Clanton about it, and Clanton admits that he knows who that horse belongs to. Miller offers to buy it but Clanton essentially tells him not to be stupid, there'd be nothing to gain from that. He explains (prophetically) that "if anyone is bound to cause us problems in Tombstone, it'll be the Earps". And Clanton warns Miller that if he's an ally of the Cowboys, then Wyatt Earp is no friend to him.

Miller heads back and talks to Other Miller about what he saw. They both agree that telling Wyatt outright would be a bad idea as it would likely bring down hell on Tombstone. They decide that Other Miller will talk to Virgil Earp about it in the morning.

When he does so, Virgil is disturbed. He wished he hadn't been told at all. If Wyatt or Crazy Miller come forward, as the aggrieved party or the witness, Virgil will have no choice (as a lawman) but to call up whatever men would be willing to join him in a posse, and try to arrest Old Man Clanton (knowing they'd likely be facing 30 or more Cowboys at the ranch). He advises Miller to be very careful as to what they do.

Johnny Behan, meanwhile, has gone to see Crazy Miller. He's extremely worried about Wyatt's candidacy. Just by virtue of his name and fame, Earp has such an advantage that he'd likely win beyond the margin any regular vote-rigging could prevent. He wants to find out a way to get Earp out of the way. In this conversation, Miller gets a sense of just how amoral Behan is; and in turn Behan gets an idea of just how crazy Miller really is. In the process of this conversation, Miller informs Behan that Old Man Clanton has Wyatt's horse, and he also mentions to Behan that Wyatt Earp is enamoured with his girl Sadie. Behan seems willing to use both the horse and the girl to try to distract Earp.

After this there's the temporary truce of a high-stakes poker game at the Argent Saloon, which makes some good money for the Millers, as well as allowing Luke Short to buy a stake in the Oriental Saloon with his winnings, and both Behan and Earp do moderately well at in a friendly competition against each other. When that's done, Behan explains his plan to Crazy Miller, a plan he makes clear he's discussed with Pa Clanton. In the first place, it turns out that Sadie Marcus was very displeased with his request to her that she try to seduce Wyatt in exchange for getting Wyatt to quit the race, so that's out. His new plan is that he and Miller will talk to Earp, and reveal that Pa Clanton has Earp's horse. He'll claim that he wants to make a deal with Earp: that Earp withdraw his candidacy, let Behan win the county seat, and in turn Behan will get Earp appointed county sheriff and then back him in dealing with the Cowboys. Somehow, in sheer craziness, Crazy Miller doesn't get wise to the fact that this is all a ruse and they're going to be making a totally false promise to Earp.

They meet with Wyatt, and working in tandem convince Earp to give up his candidacy. Later, Crazy Miller speaks with Other Miller, and Other Miller immediately realizes that Johnny Behan has every intention of double crossing Wyatt, otherwise Pa Clanton would never have given his blessing for the plan. They rush off to tell Wyatt, but by then Wyatt has already made his resignation plain.

Wyatt is naturally furious at this, and he consults the Millers for advice. Other Miller suggests that he make a public show of his resignation and make plain what Behan had promised him. Unfortunately Wyatt takes this to mean not just that he should openly state that Behan has promised him the office of County Sheriff, but also that he should reveal Behan's treachery, in spite of Earp having no real proof for this.  This is all published in John Clum's Republican newspaper, the Tombstone Epitaph.

When Earp does this, Behan (after a day of consideration) fires a counter-salvo. He claims, in Billy Breakinridge's Democrat newspaper the Tombstone Nugget, that Wyatt's suggestion of having no intention of keeping his word is a vile calumny and that on account of being so publicly dishonored he will now certainly not give a man of such tempestuous and unstable humor so important and delicate an office as County Sheriff. Behan is still marked as being in the pocket of the Cowboys, but everyone already knew this anyways, while Wyatt looks like a impetuous buffoon, and there's little he can do about it.

Johnny Behan wins the election by a safe margin.

But Luke Short, Wyatt's friend and business partner, has at least one more trick up his sleeve. On the day that Johnny Behan comes back from Tombstone (and predictably makes his very first act to ride toward the Clanton Ranch to talk to Pa Clanton), Luke and Wyatt borrow some stars from Kid Taylor and ride with him and Morgan Earp to the Clanton ranch just ahead of Behan. There, Wyatt bluffs Old Man Clanton into thinking that Johnny (who is coming up the road a distance away) has tricked Clanton and appointed Earp the Sheriff after all. Wyatt states that he doesn't want a fight with Clanton, but if he doesn't give him back the horse he has 'found', he'll be in for a fight.  Old Man Clanton, caught off guard, may have men that outnumber the lawmen 5-to-1, but he also figures Wyatt will be able to kill him and his son Billy before those men can kill Wyatt, so he claims to have found the horse in the desert and returns him to Wyatt. They ride off with the horse before Johnny Behan arrives, leaving him to explain that he'd absolutely not made Wyatt sheriff (in fact, he'd made Billy Breakinridge, a loyal friend of the Cowboys, the County Sheriff).

So Wyatt managed to pull off a small victory from the jaws of defeat at least; but he also plans for the future. He knows there's a reckoning coming with the Cowboys, and in March there will be elections for Tombstone's first mayor.  Now wise enough to know the politics game is too much for him, he intends to do whatever it takes to get John Clum elected mayor, and get his revenge on the Cowboys in due time.


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