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May 7, 2014
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Wednesday accused House Republicans of creating a select investigative committee on the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, solely to motivate their base to turn out in the November midterm elections.
“Let’s call this what it is — it is nothing more than a political ploy because continuing to focus obsessively on repealing the Affordable Care Act has lost its luster, even among their own party members,” the Florida lawmaker said at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. Full story
September 25, 2013
An under-the-radar Alabama special election might have paved the way for one of the most outspoken, socially conservative Republicans yet to ascend to the House: businessman Dean Young.
“This race shows that this is the Deep South, and that social conservatives win races down here,” said Alabama Republican consultant Bob Kish. “This isn’t North Carolina or Virginia. This is the Deep, Deep South where people go to church twice a week, on Wednesdays and Sundays, so it’s pretty conservative society.”
On Tuesday night, Young and former state Sen. Bradley Byrne made it into a GOP runoff for the 1st District nomination. Byrne, a 2010 gubernatorial candidate, had the most money and highest name identification of the nine Republicans running in the primary and took 35 percent. But Young stunned Republicans by garnering 23 percent and earning the second spot on the Nov. 5 runoff ballot. Full story
July 9, 2013
Updated: 2:53 p.m. | Conservative activists are urging former GOP Rep. Doug Ose to stay out of California’s 7th District race, threatening a “bloody primary” if he runs, according to a letter obtained by CQ Roll Call.
“While we respect your commitment to public service, your record in Congress would leave us no choice but to actively oppose your candidacy should you decide to run,” reads the letter signed by more than a dozen conservative and tea party activists from Northern California. (Read the letter below.) Full story
March 18, 2013
The Republican National Committee rolled out a massive post-2012-elections report Monday that focused on crafting what RNC Chairman Reince Priebus called a “fresh beginning” for a party that was on the losing end of a number of electoral contests last cycle.
“We know we have problems,” Priebus said to a packed ballroom at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. “We’ve identified them, and we’re implementing the solutions to fix them.”
The report’s recommendations were mostly broad in nature — better messaging, more openness to those with differing views, earlier outreach and engagement to minority groups, a stronger data infrastructure and a more robust get-out-the-vote operation.
Many of the recommendations focused on national campaigns, for example condensing the presidential primary calendar and controlling the debate schedule. But there were specific recommendations that are likely to have a more immediate effect on 2014:
March 11, 2013
The League of Conservation Voters announced on Monday a new, six-figure field campaign to boost Rep. Edward J. Markey’s bid for the Democratic nod in the Massachusetts special election for Senate.
Meanwhile, a source tells CQ Roll Call that Markey will begin a television ad campaign on Tuesday, ramping up his election effort seven weeks before primary voters decide between him and Rep. Stephen F. Lynch.
LCV, a well-funded environmental group, said the organization would spend at least $650,000 on the field campaign by the April 30 primary.
The size of Markey’s TV buy was not immediately available.
Markey led Lynch by significant margins in a series of recent polls. Markey has the backing of the LCV, along with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, among others.
February 24, 2013
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will head west this week to hear from minority voters and technology experts as a part of his committee’s efforts to rebuild and modernize the GOP.
Priebus’ four-day swing is scheduled to take him to Denver on Monday for a listening session with Hispanic voters and GOP activists, then to Los Angeles on Tuesday for listening sessions with Hispanic and Asian voters.
On Wednesday, Priebus will be in San Francisco for meetings with technology experts; a visit to Facebook is included on the chairman’s itinerary. Priebus will then travel to Seattle for a meeting focused on early voting, an aspect of voter turnout where Republicans continue to trail the Democrats significantly.
Priebus’ trip is part of the Growth and Opportunity Project, the RNC’s autopsy of what went wrong in the 2012 presidential election and how the GOP can improve its prospects going forward. The report, due to be publicized sometime in March, is focused on how Republicans can do better with minority voters and develop a technologically superior get-out-the-vote operation.
November 5, 2012
Rep. Mazie Hirono (D) appears to be cruising to victory in the open-seat Senate race in Hawaii, but she’s nonetheless getting a final boost from President Barack Obama.
A new radio ad released over the weekend by the Hirono campaign features Obama expressing support for the Congresswoman, highlighting her connection to his family.
“Years ago, Mazie worked with my late grandmother. So Mazie isn’t just a reliable partner of mine in Washington; she is part of my ohana at home in Hawaii,” Obama said. “Now, I need Mazie’s cooperative style and commitment to middle-class families in the U.S. Senate.”
Former president Bill Clinton has recorded at least 45 robocalls for House Democratic candidates to use in the final days of their campaigns.
Clinton, who has been an asset for Democratic candidates at every level this cycle, has recorded calls for candidates from Florida to California. Here’s an example of one made for Ami Bera, a physician running against Rep. Dan Lungren (R) in California’s newly configured 7th district.
November 2, 2012
The contenders in two tight Colorado Congressional races that have attracted national attention and money have embarked on their final push before Election Day. And the homestretch in the Centennial State will bring the top of the ticket from both parties, with President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney scheduling events this weekend.
But for Sal Pace, a Democratic state lawmaker challenging Rep. Scott Tipton (R), the final leg means a few more days in an automobile hopping from town to town in the state’s expansive 3rd district.
“We’ve gotten a couple of flat tires, and there was one near miss with a moose,” said Pace today by phone while driving between events in Grand Junction and Rifle. Then, it was on to Edwards. Full story
November 1, 2012
Congressional candidates don’t get out as much as they used to.
Blame it on the increased pressure to raise more money or video trackers or the way the Internet has transformed voter outreach. Or all three.
There’s no question the flood of spending by outside groups and the overall level of money being spent on elections up and down the ballot has led to a decrease in retail politicking for Members of Congress and House and Senate hopefuls. More and more candidates are ditching the campaign trail to spend more time dialing for dollars.
“Today, because of the staggering amount of money that federal candidates have to raise, the amount of retail campaigning they could do is markedly less than it was four or six years ago,” said David Heller, a Democratic media consultant for two decades.
There is no numeric evidence revealing the drop-off in retail political events, but campaign operatives on both sides of the aisle have noticed the obvious trend.
There are several reasons beyond fundraising that Congressional candidates eschewed the person-to-person contact this cycle. While the pressure to fundraise increased, tightly controlled campaigns avoid putting their candidates in the path of video trackers — or anyone with a cellphone camera — until they must.
The result? More voters meet their Members of Congress through the lens of a negative television advertisement. It’s an ominous circumstance for a Congress with already record-low approval ratings.
In the competitive race for Pennsylvania’s 12th district, aides said the campaigns announced one to two events a day this week. In the mid-October days leading up to Senate debates in Indiana and Ohio, campaigns ceased announced public campaigning for two to three days to prepare.
“Media advisories are a thing of the past,” said Chris LaCivita, a GOP consultant based in Virginia. “There has been a decline, if you will, in the number of retail political events, mostly because the methods of reaching out to voters, specifically through the Internet, have changed the dynamics of campaigning so much.”
Traditionally, the waning weeks before Election Day marked the time when candidates stopped fundraising and focused on get-out-the-vote activities while spending the millions of dollars that they raised on airing TV ads. And October recess kicked off marathon days of glad-handing, baby-kissing and flesh-pressing.
Especially in major media markets such as Cleveland, Chicago and Los Angeles, campaigns now find retail politicking is not worth candidates’ time.
“The bang for your buck is not great if you’re the candidate,” said Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) in mid-October while knocking on doors with San Diego Port Commissioner Scott Peters in Coronado. On that beautiful Saturday afternoon, it was her fourth door without an answer.
The pressure to fundraise is mostly to blame. The advent of outside groups with unlimited cash put candidates’ call time at a premium — at least until there’s no more airtime left to buy.
One House aide running a targeted race described a strict regime of three events a day this week — and only during mealtimes. Every other moment, this House candidate fundraises or, sometimes, calls undecided voters.
“In the last couple of weeks, frankly, I need him on the phones raising money so that we can hope to compete on air and reach more voters,” said another Democratic operative running a top House race.
The receipts tell the larger story: House and Senate races are more expensive endeavors than they were two or four years ago. The top House fundraisers in competitive races bring in, on average, about $1 million more than in 2008.
A study released Wednesday estimated that $6 billion will be spent on the 2012 elections.
“It used to be if a candidate did five or six hours of call time a day, four or even five days a week, that was considered extraordinarily good,” Heller said. “Today, that’s a rock-bottom minimum. And for the most contested races, it’s not nearly enough.”
Of course, much of this depends on the candidate, the campaign and the state.
If the candidate is a self-funder, he can hit the campaign trail as much as possible — such as former WWE CEO Linda McMahon in Connecticut. The Republican nominee for Senate donated $40 million to her own campaign. This cycle, she could afford to attend 240 small events for women and marched in every fair or parade in the state.
In North Dakota, retail politicking is still worth the effort because of the state’s small voting population. This week, Rep. Rick Berg (R) kicked off a statewide tour in his dark green Ford pickup truck, and an aide said he’ll average five stops per day for his Senate bid’s last big push. His opponent, former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp, starts a five-day, 30-stop bus tour today in her colorful campaign bus emblazoned with “Bring it home, Heidi,” per an aide.
But those kinds of events are becoming the exception instead of the rule, especially in early to mid-October. It’s rare for reporters to show up to such events in states with dwindling news outlets.
In the final days of a campaign, it’s often more productive for bleary-eyed candidates to turn out the party faithful instead, according to Scott Cottington, a Republican consultant for three decades.
“I just think there’s a general aversion to campaigning on the ground anyway, and I think that’s somewhat a reflection of both sides catering to their base now,” Cottington said. “If I know I can be calling known donors and raising money, most candidates would rather spend their time doing that than going out and meeting people in the crapshoot that’s going out, door to door.”
Of course, for some candidates, it’s advantageous to spend more time behind closed doors. Some Congressional hopefuls aren’t good at chatting up crowds, while others have a gaffe habit. In the YouTube age, it’s easier to leave the personal appeal for the straight-to-camera spot.
“We owe it to our clients to make sure they don’t get ambushed,” LaCivita said. “That’s just responding to the times. No one wants to see their client bushwhacked by some half-cocked blogger.”
Kyle Trygstad contributed to this report.
October 14, 2012
SAN DIEGO — Democrat Scott Peters on Saturday rallied more than 400 labor volunteers who were preparing to canvass for voters across the city to support his bid to oust Rep. Brian Bilbray (R) in California’s newly drawn 52nd district and to help Democrats running in other local races.
Before setting out on a chilly (for this city) morning, state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher (I), who made national headlines earlier this year when he left the GOP during his run for mayor, introduced Peters to the large labor council gathering in a parking lot near Qualcomm Stadium, home of the National Football League’s San Diego Chargers.
With early voting under way in the Golden State, it was part of Peters’ initial push in this Tossup race — one that he participated in as he knocked on doors in the company of Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) to ask voters for their support. Full story
August 19, 2012
The College Republican National Committee on Monday is set to launch “Operation Red November,” a $2 million voter turnout program focused on the presidential contest as well as gubernatorial and Congressional races.
The effort calls for dispatching 63 paid, full-time field staff to 25 states to boost support among younger voters for Republicans running in 111 targeted races. The plan, overseen by a national field director and four regional field directors, has set a goal of 6 million live voter contacts in 15 presidential battlegrounds, 16 Senate races, 73 House races and seven gubernatorial contests.
“The CRNC’s quarter million members provide the boots on the ground for the Republican Party. We will utilize our existing membership and our trained field staff to mobilize a youth effort that has never been seen before in our organization’s history,” CRNC Chairman Alex Schriver said in statement included on the press release outlining the group’s effort.
“We’ve specifically chosen battleground states where winning the youth vote will make or break this election,” he added.
July 31, 2012
Want to be the first to know who Mitt Romney chooses as his vice presidential running mate? Starting today, there’s an app for that.
Want to get the details on volunteer opportunities for President Barack Obama’s campaign? There’s an app for that, too. Full story
July 25, 2012
Rock musician Ted Nugent and country music star Rodney Atkins are scheduled to travel to Wisconsin to headline events for GOP Senate primary candidates.
Nugent is set to perform Thursday for former Gov. Tommy Thompson; Atkins is scheduled to perform for businessman Eric Hovde on Aug. 1. The campaigns hope to translate the musicians’ star power into enthusiasm as the campaign for the primary nomination enters its final weeks.
“This is a rally, a serious rally, for my friend and the great American blood brother for freedom, U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson,” Nugent says in a voice recording sent to Thompson supporters. “If you want upgraded quality of life for the American dream, vote U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson.”
The Atkins event was described by the Hovde campaign as the kickoff to its get-out-the-vote effort. Full story
February 27, 2012
Kate Chapek started today as national women’s vote director for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, Roll Call has learned.
Chapek is spearheading an arm of the campaign’s Operation Vote, charged with engaging and mobilizing women voters. The program, designed to expand the electorate and maximize participation from crucial constituencies, drives the campaign’s strategy for utilizing paid media and other forms of outreach to communicate with and engage key demographic groups. Full story