One of this book's strengths is that both authors are well grounded in research techniques, though in different disciplines. James L. Merriner, a political reporter for thirty years, has won journalism awards for feature writing, spot news coverage, and investigative reporting--a rare triple play. Dr. Thomas P. Senter, a practicing physician who has published many medical papers, was selected in 1978 as a VA Clinical Scholar in the combined University of California at San Francisco/ Stanford Robert Wood Johnson Program. He was the first and--until 1998--the only dermatologist to be so honored.
Merriner suspected that conventional journalism, no matter how thorough, detailed, and informed by "insider" information, somehow was not telling the real story of the modern incumbency preservation system. Senter, because of his extensive involvement in the Ross Perot presidential campaign of 1992 and a 1996 U.S. Senate race in Alaska, learned first-hand the operations of that system. Prior to those campaigns, as a board member (and the only noncandidate for public office) of the bipartisan Coalition to End the Permanent Congress, he was impressed by the grit and determination of his fellow coalition members in their unsuccessful efforts to unseat congressional incumbents.