The first Republican-aligned super PAC to hit the TV airwaves in the Massachusetts Senate special election released its two advertisements Thursday evening.
The Americans for Progressive Action ads are part of a reported $700,000 media buy on behalf of Republican Gabriel Gomez, who is being thoroughly outspent by Rep. Edward J. Markey and his Democratic allies.
The ads are similar, mention both candidates and attempt to contrast the two opponents. But their themes are quite different — one hits Markey for allegedly distorting facts about Gomez, while the other is critical of Markey’s vote to give the Internal Revenue Service a role in implementing the health care overhaul.
Republicans who have long pushed for campaign finance deregulation are now paying for one of its consequences: the rise of influential conservative super PACs vying for the soul of a fractured GOP.
That Republicans crushed by the 2012 election results are feuding over what went wrong and what comes next is nothing new. Less noticed has been the big money bankrolling GOP factions and the influential new super PACs and outside groups that hold the party’s future in their hands.
More than a dozen such groups have sprung up since Election Day, CQ Weekly reports this week — some promoting centrists, minorities or liberalized immigration rules, others championing conservatives at odds with “establishment” party leaders. As the story notes: Full story
House Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC, targeted GOP women in its closing spot for the South Carolina’s 1st District special election.
The woman featured in the ad identifies herself as a Republican before she laces into Republican nominee former Gov. Mark Sanford for the extramarital affair that led to his political downfall in 2009.
Sanford faces Democratic nominee Elizabeth Colbert Busch on May 7.
Updated 9:34 a.m.| The Ready for Hillary super PAC will announce on Thursday that Democratic strategist James Carville has joined its efforts, CQ Roll Call has confirmed.
Carville is the highest-profile Clinton loyalist to join the group, which aims to build a campaign infrastructure for former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton if she decides to run for president in 2016.
(See Shop Talk’s rundown of other Ready for Hillary hires here and here.)
Ready for Hillary is not directly affiliated with Clinton. Carville worked on President Bill Clinton’s campaigns for the White House.
Carville clarified his role to Politico. He said that he would not be “directly affiliated” with the group but is enthusiastic to help any organization that supports Clinton. Carville frequently lets groups like the campaign committees use his name in fundraising emails. A source at the PAC had previously confirmed the entire content of the Washington Post report to CQ Roll Call.
Senate Majority PAC, a super PAC dedicated to electing Democrats to the Senate, announced Wednesday the hiring of two new staffers:
Karyn Brockman will be the super PAC’s finance director. Most recently, she worked on now-Sen. Christopher S. Murphy’s, D-Conn., 2012 Senate campaign.
Ty Matsdorf has signed on as campaigns and communications director. CQ Roll Call profiled Matsdorf as a Hill aide in 2009, when he was a communications director to Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. More recently, Matsdorf ran the war room for American Bridge 21st Century, a Democratic opposition research super PAC. He will continue with his other job at the newly formed Messina Group while working with Senate Majority PAC.
American Bridge 21st Century, a Democratic super PAC focused on opposition research, announced Monday that it has brought on two new top staffers:
Jessica Mackler will be the new vice president-campaign director. Last fall, Mackler was campaign manager for then-Rep. Shelley Berkley’s Senate race in Nevada. She’s a veteran of EMILY’s List and American Rights at Work as well.
Eddie Vale will be the new vice president-C-4 director for American Bridge’s not-for-profit arm and senior adviser to the PAC. He comes to American Bridge from the AFL-CIO Workers’ Voice super PAC. His previous experience includes John Edwards’ 2008 presidential campaign, Ned Lamont’s Senate race and former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s gubernatorial effort.
“As we prepare to build on the success of the last election cycle, Jessica and Eddie will be valuable additions to American Bridge and bring years of experience right in line with our core mission,” said Rodell Mollineau, the president of American Bridge, in a statement. “They will further strengthen a rock-solid senior staff and organization that I couldn’t be prouder of.” Full story
Minnesota Sen. Al Franken’s re-election campaign and the Ready for Hillary super PAC made public Wednesday new hires to their organizations.
Franken’s team announced that Matt Burgess has been hired to manage the Democrat’s 2014 re-election campaign, according to Minnesota Public Radio. Burgess is a longtime Democratic operative, with former stints at EMILY’s List and the Service Employees International Union, among others.
The super PAC devoted to drafting Hillary Rodham Clinton into the 2016 presidential race, Ready for Hillary PAC, announced Wednesday that it has hired Nickie Titus to be its digital director.
Titus spent the 2012 cycle on now-Sen. Tim Kaine’s, D-Va., campaign. She previously worked for the new media firm Blue State Digital and, like Burgess, she came up through the ranks at EMILY’s List.
CQ Roll Call recently took a look at who else is behind the Draft Hillary effort.
One of 2014′s most vulnerable Democratic incumbents, Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, is using the media blitz to demonstrate political space between him and Bloomberg.
“I’ve gotten a lot of questions about NYC Mayor gun ad. My response? I don’t take gun advice from the Mayor of NYC. I listen to Arkansans,” Pryor tweeted Monday afternoon.
Bloomberg announced over the weekend that he plans to fund advertisements in 13 states during the Easter recess targeting vulnerable Democratic senators, including Pryor, and Republicans representing competitive states. The goal, according to The New York Times, is to pressure senators he believes could be persuaded to support universal background checks for firearm sales.
Three Republican operatives have launched an opposition research group to serve as a counterweight to the successful Democratic venture, American Bridge 21st Century.
Matt Rhoades, Joe Pounder and Tim Miller have formed America Rising, a group devoted to candidate research, tracking, rapid response and digital tools to help the party define its opposition through research and proactive communication efforts. They hope to put the GOP on equal footing with Democrats, who were widely believed to have a leg up in the research field, something spelled out in the 2012 autopsy report released this week by the Republican National Committee.
America Rising, organized as a limited liability company, will conduct research and provide tracking as a product for Republican campaigns, committees and conservative advocacy groups. Separately, America Rising PAC will serve as the super PAC arm of the organization, focusing on rapid response, communications, social media and digital advertising campaigns. Full story
Julianna Smoot, the deputy campaign manager for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election effort, has joined Majority PAC’s board of directors.
“We have a small, effective team to which she brings critical expertise and networks as we prepare for this election cycle and make sure we have every resource needed to keep a Democratic senate majority,” super PAC co-chair Susan McCue said in a press release Monday.
The Democratic super political action committee spent millions to boost Senate candidates in 2012, including major buys in Indiana, Ohio and other states. Full story
Attorney Charlie Spies will serve as a senior adviser this cycle to the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC dedicated to protecting and growing the House GOP’s majority.
“Charlie Spies’ reputation speaks for itself,” said CLF Chairman Norm Coleman, a former Republican senator from Minnesota, in a statement Thursday. “2012′s most effective GOP super PAC is excited to grow further as we fight big government, big labor bosses, and the job killing agenda of President Obama and his political operation for control of the U.S. House.” Full story
Members of Congress have been remarkably quiet about President Barack Obama’s controversial new advocacy group, Organizing for Action, but the GOP super PAC American Crossroads has jumped in with an excoriating new video that rebrands the president’s group “Organizing for Access.”
Never mind that Organizing for Action operates in exactly the same way as Crossroads GPS, the politically active nonprofit that is an arm of American Crossroads. Crossroads GPS spent $70.6 million on independent campaign expenditures in the 2012 elections, according to the Sunlight Foundation. But like OFA, Crossroads GPS operates outside the disclosure rules as a 501(c)(4) social welfare nonprofit.
Obama organizers pledged to voluntarily disclose donors to the group when they announced in January that Organizing for Action would take up where the Obama campaign left off, rallying grass-roots support for the president’s agenda. But the group has drawn a steady drumbeat of criticism and bad press, including recent editorials in The New York Times and The Washington Post casting its activities as disturbing end-run around campaign finance laws.
As reported in the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times, donors of $500,000 or more will be rewarded with quarterly meetings with the president. Run by Jim Messina, Obama’s 2012 national campaign manager, who just set up his own for-profit political consulting firm, OFA’s recent spending includes $100,000 on ads to pressure GOP lawmakers to back gun control measures. Common Cause President Bob Edgar called on Obama last week to shut the group down.
The American Crossroads ad features video clips of Chuck Todd, chief White House correspondent for NBC News, saying, “This just looks bad. It looks like the White House is selling access,” and asking, “I wonder what candidate Obama would say about this?” The satirical ad, which hawks “Organizing for Access” as a commercial product that accepts “all major credit cards, personal checks and large stacks of cash,” also features a video clip of Obama saying, “We’ve got to change how business is done in Washington.”
Ellmers is one of the club's newer targets. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Congressional Republicans already peering over their shoulder for potential intraparty challengers won’t be sleeping any easier with the Club for Growth’s new website, PrimaryMyCongressman.com.
Club for Growth Action, the super PAC arm of the anti-tax group, announced Wednesday the goal of the new website “is to raise awareness of Republicans In Name Only (RINOs) who are currently serving in safe Republican seats,” according to a release.
The group is seeking GOP primary challengers for these nine members and offers visitors an opportunity to recommend potential candidates: Reps. Larry Bucshon of Indiana, Rick Crawford of Arkansas, Renee Ellmers of North Carolina, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Frank D. Lucas of Oklahoma, Steven M. Palazzo of Mississippi, Martha Roby of Alabama, Aaron Schock of Illinois and Mike Simpson of Idaho. Full story
Marcy Stech is leaving Priorities USA Action, the top-grossing Democratic super PAC in the 2012 election cycle, to be national press secretary at EMILY’s List.
Stech joins EMILY’s List on the heels of a banner year for the organization that backs Democratic women who support abortion rights. EMILY’s List helped elect 19 new women to the House and nine female Senate candidates, including six incumbents and three newcomers.
Stech signs on as national press secretary and succeeds Jess McIntosh, who moved up to replace Jen Bluestein as communications director. Bluestein is serving as a senior adviser to Americans for Responsible Solutions, the new gun safety super PAC run by ex-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and her husband, Mark Kelly.
Stech has “an incredible wealth of experience fighting for progressive causes,” EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock said in a statement.
Stech’s former posts include working on the 2010 campaign of Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and in the public affairs division of the strategic communications firm The Glover Park Group. Priorities USA Action raised $79 million in the previous cycle to help re-elect President Barack Obama.