Posts tagged fund raising
With the passing of Neil Armstrong this weekend, we lost an American hero. His giant leap for man was an inspiration for mankind. His courage inspired the nation to consider new possibilities.
Just a few weeks ago, Sally Ride passed away. She too was an inspiration for humankind. The first woman in space, a hero to all young women inspired to reach for the stars. Her legacy is a generation of female scientists, astronauts, and barrier breakers driving America to greatness.
Today we must not mourn the loss of these heroes, but instead honor their legacies. The burden is on us to return this to a nation that values inspiration. A nation that invests in science and technology, invests in teachers and education, a nation that provides every child a world class education.
With the party conventions upon us, each side will present their vision for the future of America. The Republicans will put forward Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. Their vision is to double down on shifting the tax burden to working Americans, slashing investment in infrastructure and the next generation. They want you to forget about the collapse of Wall Street just a few years ago, gambling with the Social Security and Medicare you paid for and earned, offering you coupons instead of health care.
President Barack Obama and Joe Biden will present a vision of fighting to make America work for working Americans again. To reinvest in our roads, bridges, and schools. A vision to move this nation forward by investing in the next generation while preserving the right to dignity that FDR promised our nation’s seniors.
Neil Armstrong and Sally Ride may no longer be with us, but their spirit, their inspiration, their courage lives in all of us. We have the power to keep that legacy alive.
Founder, MPA Political, LLC
Now in a single handy post. An analysis from the prospective of progressive Democrats of the newly drawn US House district boundaries in Florida. Despite Florida voters passing Amendments Five (State) and Six (Federal) in 2010 (Fair Districts), the new map is rife with partisan gerrymandering. Who cares about the wishes of the people when the RPOF has super majorities? Data for Obama/McCain, Sink/Scott, party registration and racial composition is pulled from the Orlando Sentinel.
UPDATE: DailyKos Elections put together a great grid of information here.
My prediction is that 6-8 years from now, this redistricting process will be seen as a drastic overreach that blew up in the face of the RPOF.
Updates will be inserted as they are available – consider this a living document. Please email us with missing information.
US House District 1: Resembles the old first district, is composed of the western half of the panhandle. This is a strong Republican seat with over 50% Republican registration. John McCain’s 2008 Presidential campaign and Rick Scott’s 2010 Gubernatorial campaign both pulled in well over 60% of the vote in this district.
Incumbent Republican Rep. Jeff Miller isn’t expected to face serious opposition. A variety of ‘some guys‘ have filed.
US House District 2: This seat resembles the old second district, composed of the eastern half of the panhandle with Tallahassee composing a huge chunk of the population. Democratic registration is over 54%, but this isn’t the super safe territory that would imply. Obama took just 47% of the vote here, bested by McCain’s 52%. Alex Sink fared better versus Rick Scott, netting a 52% to 45% victory. Prior to 2010, this seat was held by Conservative Blue Dog Democrat Allen Boyd. With a strong minority population (23.5 Black, 5% Hispanic) this seat is absolutely winnable by a progressive Democratic candidate. It should end up in Democratic hands in 2012. With a strong campaign effort and help down ticket, Barack Obama could win this district in 2012.
Incumbent Republican Steve Southerland will seek re-election and a gaggle of Democrats have already jumped in the fray to challenge him for this enticing seat. State Rep. Leonard Bembry, Former Bay County Democratic Chair/Lawyer Alvin Peters, and Environmental Activist Jay Liles are in, rumors of additional candidates exist.
Ex-Republican Nancy Argenziano, former State Senator, former State Rep and former Charlie Crist appointed Public Service Commissioner and party revolution activist first indicated she might seek the seat as a Democrat last summer, but has filed for the seat as an Independent. Argenziano is seeking State House instead of US House.
US House District 3: A gigantic swath of land spanning from the Gulf Coast to the Saint Johns river just outside Jacksonville, this seat is absolutely criminal. It skirts around a variety of cities, avoiding urban/minority populations and progressive neighborhoods. The intent appears to be to drown out the Yellow Dog Democratsthat dominate this region with rural and suburban engaged conservative voters. Democrats outnumber Republicans in registration, 43.5% to 39% but neither Obama (39.5%) nor Sink (40.5%) performed in line with the registration. This district combines parts of the old 4th, 5th, and 6th districts, all of which were held by Republicans in 2010 and prior.
If Sink’s performance was slightly better, this would be easily identified as a ripe target for Democrats, but at 40.5% it was pretty abysmal, only 1% better than Obama’s in 2008. However, Sink’s campaign was horrific statewide and lacked any field effort in these rural counties. There was no support down ticket in this region in 2010 and Rick Scott funded a heavy field operation throughout these rural counties. My conclusion is that this is territory we should be working for aggressively in 2012 and beyond. If we fielded quality candidates at the State House, State Senate and US House levels for (several) consecutive cycles, we could likely revive the Yellow Dog base that already exists and turn this region of the state at least purple.
Incumbent Republican women hating Rep. Cliff Sterns has announced he will seek this seat in 2012, joining a primary adventure with Clay County Clerk of Court James Jett and State Senator/Former Alachua Sheriff Steve Oelrich and one or more some guys.
Jett announced that Stearns and associates made attempts to bribe him out of the race. Jett turned over recordings to the FBI and Lt. Gov Jennifer Carroll is rumored to be implicated in the corruption.
US House District 4: This seat resembles the old district 4, wrapping around Jacksonville while avoiding Democratic neighborhoods and minorities as much as possible. Currently held by Republicans, likely to remain so with a 10.5% registration advantage and the history of both McCain and Scott breaking 60% in the district.
Incumbent Republican Ander Crenshaw will seek re-election here, a parade of some guys may or may not challenge him the primary and/or general election.
US House District 5: Possibly the most criminally gerrymandered seat in Florida, though not really any worse than it’s former incarnation as District 3. Held by long time Democratic Representative Corrine Brown, this is a majority-minority seat (49% Black, 11% Hispanic) that stretches from Jacksonville to Gainesville and then down to Orlando’s urban community. Don’t think it is criminal? There are multiple places where you can stand and have this district North, South, East and West of you, while not being in this district. Conversely you can say the same about some of the districts that are wrapped around the 3rd. There is no reasonable argument that this district is compact. It at times gets narrow enough to be filled with a moderate sized high school marching band (though some of them would need to be on rafts) and expanding as wide as is needed to pack in large urban/Democratic populations. This is what ‘packing’ is all about. Make adjacent districts better for the opposing Republican Party by packing as many Democrats in to one district as is possible. As it is constructed, 60.5% of registered voters are Democrats, Obama cleared 70% and Sink mustered a healthy 65%. I’m all for honoring the Voting Rights Act (VRA) but we must also preserve compact and contiguous communities – it isn’t either or, we can do both. If this district were redrawn honoring the intent of Amendment 6, it is extremely likely there would more more opportunity for minority representation and CERTAIN that the region would be better represented in Congress.
US House District 6: This is primarily what used to be the 7th Congressional district. The Atlantic coast from just south of Jacksonville, including St. Johns, Flagler, and Volusia counties. Incumbent John Mica is redistricted out, joining his two friends from Winter Park in a game of ‘which seat looks best?’ Mica announced recently he will run in the new 7th District, which lines him up for a primary with Representative Sandy Adams. The open 6th district is pretty tough territory for Democrats, with a 40% to 36.5% Republican registration advantage and decent performance numbers from both McCain (53.4%) and Scott (54.6%). Though to be fair, in neither 2008 nor 2010 was there much effort by challenger campaigns in these counties. This seat is well within range to be picked up with a 2-3 cycle effort and with the right circumstances it could be won by Obama and a strong Democratic challenger candidate in 2012.
The lack of major media markets within the district make it more challenging, like much of Florida this seat will require an expensive and high quality field effort to be flipped.
Craig Miller recently dropped his US Senate bid to run for this open seat, he has been joined in the primary by a Jacksonville area lawyer/Iraq Vet Ron DeSantis and more are expected to join the fray. Several Democrats have expressed interest in running for this seat, only Vipin Verma is currently filed for the old 7th (who?) and will presumably refile for the new 6th where he lives.
State Rep Fred Costello (Ormond Beach) is also running as a Republican. Jacksonville City Councilman Richard Clark joins the Republican Primary, a graduate of Nease High School but currently resides in Jacksonville. He asserted he would only return to St. Johns if elected, maintaining his status on the Jacksonville City Council in the mean time.
If you are a progressive Democratic candidate already filed or considering running for US House, please contact us ASAP.
US House District 7: Comprised of the suburbs north and east of Orlando, including Winter Park (current home to three Members of Congress). Rep. John Mica and Rep. Sandy Adams have both already announced to seek this seat, setting up a establishment powerhouse versus Tea Party darling primary.
The data shows this to be one of the most competitive seats in the state, with McCain having edged Obama 49.9% to 49.1%. Registration is a 39.4% to 35% Republican advantage. A fairly affluent and overwhelmingly (70%) white district, there is also a sizable and growing Hispanic population (17%). Scott bested Sink 50.5% to 45.6%, more a sign of Sink’s abysmal campaign and Scott’s strength than a shift in voter behavior.
This is an incredible opportunity for a challenger candidate to join the fray and take a seat the RPOF is counting on and put it in play. Nick Ruiz III, endorsed by Blue America is seeking the seat as a Democrat. Mr. Ruiz ran for the 24th district as an NPA/3rd Party candidate in 2010. He raised no money in 2010 and is on a track to raise only slightly more despite the Blue America endorsement in 2012. Ruiz is a fountain of great progressive policy, but doesn’t appear to have any understanding of campaigns, elections or politics as a whole – i$ he ever going to get it? As of yet, I am unaware of any serious Democratic candidates for this race, do you have any ideas?
Jason Kendall has also announced to run for District 7 as a self professed Blue Dog Democrat. He has an impressive education in diplomacy and policy but no real indicators about his capacity as a candidate thus far.
US House District 8: This seat greatly resembles the old District 15 along the central Atlantic (Space) coast, and will be fairly friendly to incumbent Republican Rep. Bill Posey. Registration is 44% R, 35% D with both McCain and Scott scoring roughly 55%.
No serious Democratic challengers have emerged as of yet, but 2010 ‘some guy’ candidate Shannon Roberts is running again. She posted $30,000 raised in 2010 and finished the campaign with a small debt.
Democratic Attorney, MIT grad and President of Space Coast Tiger Bay Club David Gunter is also running.
US House District 9: South of Orlando, this seat includes pieces of 8, 15, and 24, is considered one of the two “new seats” Florida gained. Currently no Republicans are seeking this Open seat. Obama’s just over 60% and Sink’s 53% are strong indicators this will be a Democratic seat, the fact that Alan Grayson is seeking it in 2012 pretty much guarantees it.
US House District 10: Primarily composed of Rep. Daniel Webster‘s 8th district with a piece of the 5th, this is Disney and the west Orlando Suburbs. Republicans hold a 40.3% to 36.8% registration advantage, McCain scored a 52% to 47% win here in 2008. 10.5% of the district is Black, 14% Hispanic – both of these numbers should rise over the course of the decade.
Webster is seeking re-election here and he will likely face a stiff challenge. Orlando Police Chief and former Social Worker Val Demings has already posted strong fundraising numbers and collected some valuable endorsements/attention.
US House District 11: North of Tampa, from the Gulf Coast up to the Ocala National Forest this is another fairly large and largely rural district. Incumbent Rich Nugent gets 59% of his old 5th CD as well as about a quarter of the old 6th CD. Republicans lead registration 42% to 37%, both McCain and Scott were in the 55% ballpark. As with the 10th CD, Obama scored about 4% better than Sink.
Nugent will seek re-election and Don Browning, a former Winter Springs City Councilor has filed to challenge him in the Republican Primary. This is territory Democrats haven’t put up a serious fight for in a long time, like the new 6th and 3rd CD’s. Given a long term commitment and quality campaigns, these numbers could be brought back in to competition.
US House District 12: Tampa’s northern suburbs, composed of the old 9th (57%) and 5th (39%). Incumbent Republican Rep. Gus Bilirakis is seeking re-election in this right leaning seat. Registration is 40.1% to 34.7% in favor of the Republicans, both McCain and Scott were at 52% and again Obama outperformed Sink by 3%.
‘Some guy’ Jonathan Michael Snow has filed intent to challenge Bilirakis. Certain to be a fund raising powerhouse, Snow is a certified photo specialist at Walgreens and former substitute teacher with a BA in History.
US House District 13: This coastal district sits west of Tampa Bay and includes more than 80% of Rep. Bill Young’s old 10th district. Every cycle rumors swirl the Rep. Young will retire – eventually they will be right unless he is defeated first. First elected in 1970, Young is now 81 and the longest serving Republican in the House. This is a district that Obama won in 2008 with better than 51% of the vote and Sink edged Scott 48.5% to 46.6% in 2010.
Young turned back a challenge from Democratic State Senator Charlie Justice in 2010.
Former Congressional staffer Jessica Ehrlich and former School Board Member Nina Hayden have announced for the Democratic Nomination. Hayden was out raised $800,000 to $20,000 in her bid against State Senator Jack Latava in 2010, putting the pressure on her to demonstrate she isn’t just a ‘some guy‘ candidate. Ehrlich, a lawyer has worked for both Republican (Clay Shaw) and Democratic (Stephen Lynch) members of the House.
Vultures are circling for this seat, with several filings and a bunch of rumors. Check back for more information as this one evolves. This seat should be a top target for Democrats with the new lines and Obama on the ballot again.
US House District 14: Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor’s Tampa Bay seat, with better than 50% Democratic registration, 65% Obama performance and 61% Sink performance – this is a solid D hold barring a major catastrophe/scandal shifting the landscape.
A few ‘some guys’ have filed for the Republican race to get slaughtered.
US House District 15: This district is a block of land surrounding I-4 between the populations of Tampa and Orlando, about half of the district was Republican Rep. Dennis Ross’s 12th district, with ~30% coming from the 9th district. Democrats hold a slight registration advantage, very slight at 39% to 38.6%. McCain and Scott both won the seat with 53% and 52.5% respectively.
This district includes Alex Sink’s hometown of Thonotasassa, it would be interesting to see if she could compete for this seat with a significantly better campaign than she ran for Governor. No doubt she could raise the money, but finding a message that resonates and demonstrating the capacity to connect with the voters remains to be seen. It would also require her to listen to people who actually understand elections, so they can explain to her that running away from the President will not help her (he outperformed her in this seat as well).
I don’t expect Sink to give serious consideration to running and her recent statements committing to building a non-partisan think tank to find policy solutions for Florida indicate she wishes to stay relevant while not actually understanding what the problems are.
If you are a progressive Democratic candidate already filed or considering running for US House, please contact us ASAP.
US House District 16: This Sarasota based district is 96% of Republican Representative Vern Buchanan‘s old 13th CD. The balance comes from the old District 11 (Castor). There are a number of affluent coastal communities in this 83.5% white district. Obama fared fairly well with 48% of the vote, Sink less so with 44%. McCain took 50.8% while Rick Scott took 51.7%. Moderates have struggled challenging Buchanan in the past, with Christine Jennings coming very close in 2006, less so in 2008 despite very strong fund raising. Registration tilts to the Republicans 43.6% to 32.8%.
Buchanan is seeking re-election here with his incredibly deep pockets. In addition to breaking campaign finance laws, Buchanan is an actual used car salesman (he owns a string of dealerships and had a variety of law suits filed against him on related issues). Democratic State Representative Keith Fitzgerald has announced he will challenge Buchanan. Fitzgerald is a well liked by progressive activists around the state and should make this a race to watch.
US House District 17: This massive chunk of land in the center of south Florida is mostly inland but with a touch of exposure on the Gulf coast. It is a melding of pieces of the old 16th (Rooney-R), 12th (Ross-R) and 14th (Mack-R). Registration is much closer than one might expect, Republicans holding 40.7% and Democrats a healthy 37.7%. Obama performed better than Sink with 43% while both McCain and Scott were just over 55%.
As part of a multi-candidate shuffle, Republican Incumbent Tom Rooney agreed to move in to this district (he lives in the 18th) opening the door for Allen West to take the 18th and Adam Hasner to seek West’s 22nd. At this point opposition appears to be limited to a variety of ‘some guys’.
US House District 18: This south Atlantic coast district is a pretty decent sized chunk of land that is slightly more friendly for Tea Bagger Incumbent Allen West, but not exactly friendly confines. The composition is 65% of Rooney’s old 16th (including his current home), 23% of West’s old 22nd, and a 9% slice of Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings’ 23rd. Republicans lead registration 38.0% to 37.3%. Obama won the district 51%-48% and Rick Scott took it 49%-47%. How this seat plays out in 2012 could have a big impact on Florida’s Electoral Votes and the Presidential Race as a whole.
Incendiary incumbent Rep. Allen West (lives in Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz 20th district) worked out the three player trade that sent a case of Bud Light Premium and an intern to be named later to Rooney in exchange for Rooney moving to the new 17th, West snagging the new 18th and giving Adam Hasner a place to land in the 22nd District in the aftermath of his stillborn US Senate campaign. West was dogged by two aggressive Democratic challengers in the 22nd, one of whom followed him to the 18th, upstart young Democrat Patrick Murphy. Murphy went from ‘some guy’ to serious player in a very short time, with aggressive progressive messaging and nose to the grindstone fund raising. He boasted $1.3 Million raised at years end.
2006 Candidate (against Mark Foley) David Lutrin had already been running for this race prior to the musical chairs, framing himself as a progressive. Lutrin has done nothing thus far to rate consideration beyond ‘some guy’ status with a year end filing of $185 raised. There is no K there. No comma. $185. Lutrin has withdrawn and endorsed Murphy.
Given Allen West’s volatility, a strong and (major) error free campaign by a progressive Democrat could certainly pick this seat up in 2012.
Martin County Sheriff Robert Crowder ended the speculation and announced he will challenge West in the Republican Primary.
Tea Party Chairman and Independent Everett Wilkinson has also announced he is considering running against West on the basis that the district should be represented by a local. The intriguing element is that Wilkinson is an Independent which could have significant ramifications in the general election.
US House District 19: Southern Gulf coast including Fort Myers and Naples, composed almost entirely (98%) from Republican Representative Connie Mack IV’s old 14th District. This is among the most Republican districts in the state, with a 47% to 28% in registration and with Rick Scott posting a healthy 61%. Obama fared a bit better than Sink, losing 56.8% to 42.3% to McCain while Sink was ~35% against Scott’s 61%. Racially the seat is nearly 15% Hispanic and 6% Black, it is possible that over the decade those numbers will both grow, putting this seat closer to competition.
Incumbent Republican Connie Mack IV is seeking the Republican nomination to face Bill Nelson for US Senate leaving this seat open and somewhat of a free for all…as long as you are a Republican. Thus far none of the ‘some guys’ have really distinguished themselves, though at least three are in the ballpark of $100,000 raised.
US House District 20: This inland West Palm Beach/Fort Lauderdale seat is serious nothing to see here territory. Democrats lead registration 65% to 14% in this 48.9% Black, 18.5% Hispanic seat. Obama won by a paltry 61% margin – 80% to 19%, Alex Sink only won 78%-20%. This is a majority minority seat, which is how the Republicans justify drawing a district with more nooks and crannies than anything Thomas’s makes. It isn’t as bad as the 5th CD, but it is pretty awful.
Democratic incumbent Representative Alcee Hastings will seek re-election, he will win. At least that is what my magic 8-ball says.
US House District 21: This seat snugs inside the embrace of District 20, another safe Democratic seat with a 48%-26% registration advantage. Both Obama and Sink cleared 60%. This district includes 76% of Democratic Representative Ted Deutch old 19th district and 15% of what was West’s 22nd district.
Deutch is seeking re-election and should coast, regardless of how many ‘some guys’ jump in.
US House District 22: Completing the ménage à trois with the 20th and 21st, this district hugs the Atlantic coastline of Palm Beach. Democrats hold a 41.5% to 32.6% registration advantage and the Obama 56.7% to 42.5% victory were too tough for Incumbent Republican Allen West, who yet again ran like a coward to more friendly confines. If he keeps this up, he will still be living in the 23rd District represented by Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz and running in southern Georgia.
For roughly the past year, former Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel and Patrick Murphy (see District 18) have been working hard, raising money and poking West with sharp sticks, scooping roughly $1.3 Million each in 2011. Murphy has now moved on to the 18th, and Frankel has been joined by Broward Commissioner Kristin Jacobs with rumors of other potential candidates enticed by the open seat. Jacobs’ announcement derided Frankel as divisive.
Republican Adam Hasner, former State House Majority Leader, abandoned his going-nowhere US Senate campaign to announced for this seat immediately after West announced intent to seek the 18th. He may face a primary challenge from Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca who has launched an exploratory committee.
The numbers here are extremely favorable, barring a major catastrophe, whichever Democrat wins the primary should coast to a win in November despite Hasner’s formidable stature.
US House District 23: Miami Beach up through Hollywood with a tail inland at the northern end of the district. Registration is 48.5% for Democrats, 25% Republicans, so this is another ‘nothing to see here’ seat. Obama and Sink again both broke 60%.
US House District 24: Miami’s majority-minority seat, this seat includes Miami Gardens, North Miami and Opa-Locka. 51.7% Black and 33% Hispanic, this seat holds the distinction of the smallest White population in the state at 12.6%. Obama and Sink both scored in the neighborhood of 85%, incumbent Democratic Representative Frederica Wilson is likely to coast to re-election until she decides to move on, just as Kendrick Meek and Carrie Meek before her.
Rudy Moise, one of the many Democratic candidates that sought this seek in the open race to replace Kendrick Meek that was won by Rep. Wilson, has announced he seek the seat again challenging Wilson in the primary.
US House District 25: A large geographic footprint, this district includes a bit of the Everglades, Big Cypress National Preserve and a huge Hispanic population at 71%. Republicans hold the registration lead 40% to 32% and a moderate performance lead with McCain beating Obama 54%-46% and Scott over Sink by a slightly wider 57%-41%.
Incumbent Republican Representative Mario Diaz-Balart abandoned his old 25th CD seat in 2010 to seek the more friendly seat of his retiring brother Lincoln Diaz-Balart. In a strange twist, he gets the old number back along with 34% of his old seat and 51% of his current district. ’Some guy’ Democrat Shannon Richard Harvilla of Pompano Beach is challenging Diaz-Balart.
US House District 26: The tip of the state and the Keys, this is one of the most competitive districts in the state. Voter registration runs tight, Republicans at 36.8%, Democrats at 35.7%. McCain edged Obama 49.9% to 49.5%. Scott and Sink was even closer at 49.0% to 48.76%. This seat is majority Hispanic at 69%.
First term incumbent Republican David Rivera wasted no time getting caught up in a variety of scandals. Which isn’t news considering his use of a vehicle to crash his way to victory in the State Legislature years ago…
Democratic State Representative Luis Garcia announced last summer he would challenge Rivera. The combination of Rivera’s anemic fund raising as an incumbent and Garcia’s decent fund raising has eliminate the money gap, but that is certainly subject to change given how low the numbers currently are on both sides.
A variety of ‘some guys’ are either in or rumored to be considering a run.
US House District 27: Miami, South Miami and Coral Gables, this is another very competitive seat. Registration tilts 38.2% to 35.8% in favor of the Republicans and this is also a majority Hispanic seat at 75%. McCain edged Obama 50.9% to 48.5% and Scott beat Sink 50.6% to 47.5%.
Incumbent Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has proven to be a formidable opponent, over performing statewide Republican candidates by 10%.
Possibly the best hope for a progressive victory here is a rematch with 2008 nominee Annette Taddeo. Taddeo’s 2008 campaign under performed significantly, weighed down early by State/National Party rejection, Taddeo didn’t really find her feet until the final weeks of the campaign. She quickly became a favorite of progressive activists around the state. Taddeo could also be a viable candidate in the adjacent 26th District.
Summary for North Florida Districts 1-6: There are currently five Republicans and 1 Democrat representing this territory. With no major changes to the map as passed by the legislature, it is highly likely we will regain District 2 in 2012, and there is an outside chance at picking up Districts 3 and 6 over the next three cycles. To swing these six seats from 5R/1D to 2R/4D would be a huge coup, particularly when you consider the lengths to which Republicans went to protect themselves with gerrymandering. If the DOJ/Courts find fault with the maps as drawn, particularly with regard to the abomination that is District 5, the chances of Democratic gains in north Florida grow significantly.
Summary of the I-4 Corridor Districts 7-15: Looking at this package of seats, 7 through 15, Democrats currently hold 1 (14) and 1 seat is ‘new’ (9), but likely to be picked up by the Democrats. Over the next 2-3 cycles, we could see gains in 7, 10, and 13. I’m also intrigued by 15, where the numbers look appealing and the right candidate could knock out a weak incumbent.
Summary of Districts 16-27: In the territory south of the I-4 Corridor, there are a great deal of opportunities for Democratic (Progressive) pick ups in 2012 and/or over the next few cycles. Obama’s South Florida GOTV operation was incredible in 2008, but in far too many cases they were 1-shot voters, ignoring the under card – leaving challengers like Taddeo, Joe Garcia and Raul Martinez well short of Obama’s vote totals in their districts. If OFA 2.0 can work out those kinks, the new map could yield some significant gains in 2012 starting with 18 and 22. 16, 26 and 27 are the next best targets here, with the new maps making all of these seats virtual toss ups IF quality candidates/campaigns emerge.
Currently this block is 7R-4D-1New, with an aggressive effort it is reasonable to see 4 gains for progressive Democrats, moving the block to 4R-8D over the next 2-3 cycles. Long term, as with the I-4 Corridor, minority population growth should diminish the slim Republican margins gerrymandered in to the map.
Statewide Outlook: Statewide we could see as many as 10 more Democratic Members of Congress over the next 2-3 cycles. From 19R-6D to 11R-16D, quite a swing. Will the Florida Democratic Party do the necessary infrastructure building, recruitment and training to get this done? Will they commit to a 67-County strategy putting statewide candidates in a better chance to win? Or will they stick to the 2010 (and previous cycles) strategy of putting all of their eggs in a single statewide candidate’s basket and hope they don’t get smashed?
Since I started publishing my analysis of Florida’s new US House districts, a number of candidates and/or supporters have challenged the label of ‘some guy’. One supporter sent a nice email, asserting her candidate was the real deal (the facts disagree thus far). Another sent an email with what might classify is disgust. And one ‘some guy’ sent an email to his campaign list using the label as a slur for motivation. Not a terrible tactic.
Candidates can cross from ‘some guy’ to real contender, it has happened before, but not very often and not typically in the span of a single election cycle.
Here are a few notes about what separates the real contenders from the ‘some guys’. Not all conditions need to be true to make you a ‘some guy’ and not all conditions are false in a ‘contender’.
Money: The most obvious indicator and the most unfortunate. Our system shouldn’t be predicated on wealth or access to wealth dictating who can and cannot represent us in Congress. But it does. I only work with candidate who will commit to changing that by supporting public financing as part of campaign finance reform.
If you are running for US Congress, to compete you need to be able to raise six figures your first quarter out, ideally $100,000 in the first 30 days. You should be able to write a list down before you do a day of campaigning, of people you already know, in the hundreds or thousands that you can reasonably expect to give you money. You can learn more about campaign finance/fund raising here.
Regardless of when you start this campaign, by 3-4 months prior to your Primary election (with or without a serious opponent) you should have already raised better than $500,000. In Florida, given the higher costs of doing so many things in most of our districts, you should be aiming for the $500,000 mark by mid-March or sooner. Once you start, you need to pull in six figures every quarter, upwards of $3000/day or $4000/weekday. Note that is a trajectory of roughly $250,000 a quarter, your race may dictate much more per quarter, particularly as you get closer to election day. The quarterly number should get larger as the campaign goes on, significant drops will be perceived as a drop in support or ‘hitting a ceiling’.
In the end, to be a contender as a challenger for a regular (not Special Election) Congressional seat, you need to raise upwards of $1,000,000. That puts you ‘in the game’, possibly as close as within the margin of error. To actually be in a position to win, you likely need somewhere between $2 Million and $6 Million. And in the end, if you spend it poorly, it doesn’t matter how much you raise.
Experience/Network/Credibility/Reach: The next major separator between ‘some guys’ and contenders we will look at is the equivalent of Twitter’s Klout score. This is how many people you know, how many people know you, how likely they are to listen to you, and how likely they are to repeat/share what you say. It is also important what the people know you for, do they see you as an expert/fount of wisdom on political things? Or are you just a person that they find funny from time to time.
When we (MPA Political, LLC) teach public speaking for candidates/campaigns, we talk about the credibility disconnect that occurs when you become a candidate. In normal public speaking, when you are introduced as a rocket scientist, you are automatically given some credibility on the subject by the audience. As a candidate, the opposite happens, everyone becomes skeptical about your qualifications and credibility. The best way to combat that is to have long standing personal connections (and surrogates with credibility) to help carry that credibility beyond the ‘candidate’ threshold.
If you don’t have a network of people accessible to the district that can project credibility upon you, and you have not been a well-known member of the community for a significant period of time, it will be very hard to break through the ‘some guy’ shell without an absolute monster haul of fund raising. The odds of you having that fund raising capacity without the network/credibility are obviously pretty slim.
Campaign Understanding/Experience: Far too many candidates think running for office is some mixture of the various campaign/political tv shows and movies they have seen. Some spice in what they’ve gleaned from CNN, MSNBC, PoliticalWire.com, DailyKos.com, etc etc. What ever picture those put in your head, it’s likely wrong. It isn’t all fairs and speeches. The biggest component of campaigning is phone to mouth. Before you can do that, you need to have a coherent message and you need to know how to stay on message all the time.
A good start is attending a Democracy for America Campaign Academy. The next step is hiring a professional who knows what they are doing. Conveniently for those of you in Florida, there are two DFA Training Academies coming up in March: Miami and Gainesville.
This is a tricky hurdle for candidates, as the majority who have little experience with campaigns on this level won’t even know where to start the hiring process. It isn’t unusual to see candidates with high potential fail from this step, blowing money on bad/opportunistic consultants/staff that provide them with little to show for the money spent. Mistakes often include a perverse desire to ‘hire local’ in districts that haven’t been competitive in recent history. If there was someone local who could make it competitive, they would have already. You can learn more about hiring here.
Common Pushback on ‘Some guy’ status: ‘Some guy’ candidates and their supporters often push back on the label with arguments about the campaign finance system being broken and they are going to prove it is wrong by a) forgoing contributions over XYZ dollars, b) only taking donations from within the district, c) refusing PAC money, d) raising no more than X total dollars or (new this year) e) promising not to seek re-election because re-elections means spending the people’s time raising money rather than serving. Many of these have good intent behind them, there is some honor in there. But you can’t pay for direct mail, radio or TV with honor. You can’t pay staff or consultants with honor. Good intentions only matter if the roughly 200,000 voters you need are aware of them. The system is this way, it is designed to protect incumbents, get over it, raise the money and change it.
Probably my least favorite ‘some guy’ money argument is candidates pointing at other challengers that raised tons of money and lost as indicators that the money doesn’t matter. First of all, just because you raise the money doesn’t mean you spend it well. Second, only one candidate gets to win, did the candidates opponent also raise serious money? Is this particular losing candidate running for the seat of an entrenched and well liked incumbent? Did they have a good message that resonated with their district?
Yes, you need the money to compete. No, it isn’t going to show up because you have the right issue positions or because your opponent sucks that much. Quit praying for a ‘Mark Foley’ and do the work.
Summary: It is very rare for challengers to win Congressional seats, period. It is even more rare for first time candidates (for any office) to win Congressional seats. The most common trait of winning Congressional challengers is having lost a campaign for Congress previously.
If you aren’t sure if you are a some guy or a contender, you are probably a ‘some guy’. The most common path to changing that is through successful fund raising. Put your comfy pants on, sit down (every day for 6-8 hours), and make a ton of phone calls. Call Time is the most important task for candidates to master.
‘Some guy’ candidates are frequently brilliant on policy and push it out by the truck load. None of the voters in their district read it or care, but they do it. And these candidates believe this makes them ‘serious’. It doesn’t. Please stop.
Whining about the system, whining about the media, whining in general…is not going to win you significant support or generate your miracle fund raising. Whining doesn’t reflect the strong leadership voters/donors want. But it does occasionally generate something funny for the rest of us to giggle at.
UPDATE: The posting below will remain intact despite the completely corrupt process and invalid elections held by the Florida Young Democrats. After ignoring important components of the organization’s Constitution to the detriment of the membership, the President chose to enforce fine print of sections of the Constitution that were modified and unavailable until just days before the improperly noticed election. At the open of convention, a current, complete and correct version of the Constitution was still not available. Three candidates were invalidated, three people who stepped up and presented a clear case for their candidacy, what they would do if elected and where they wanted to see the organization go.
It is unfortunate how this was handled, dishonorable and petty people have put their egos ahead of the best interests of the organization and that is sad for all young Democrats in the state and for the party as a whole.
There’s the text book stuff – I believe every child (and adult) should have access to the best possible education, it should be free and inspiration rich. I believe every person should be provided the best possible medical care, including preventative care – at absolutely no cost. I believe every woman (and man) has dominion over their own body, and all medical decisions are between a person and their doctor. Not an insurance provider, not religious tenants, a person and their doctor. If that wasn’t clear enough, I fully support a woman’s right to choose and that IS pro-life. I support full equality, including the right to marry for all citizens. I support the rights of labor, including collective bargaining and card check. I support fair trade, not free to trample 3rd world nation’s trade. I support publicly financed elections, full disclosure and the end of corporate person-hood and corporate (including foreign owned) election tampering. I believe electoral districts should be drawn with consideration to contiguous communities, not based on partisan scheming for political advantage. I oppose term limits, with fair elections, elections are term limits. I support the Bill of Rights, not ignoring a few words where convenient. Yes, that means regulating the possession and distribution of firearms. No warrentless wiretaps. No unlawful detention of citizens and non-military combatants on military bases and tried by military tribunal.
I want every child to have the same opportunities I had growing up with wonderful parents and financial success and stability. I look back at my childhood and see so many opportunities that most other children didn’t have. I really could have become anything I wanted to become. How many children have potential that is unrealized because they lack the opportunities. They lack access to proper nutrition, medical care, education or inspiration? How many children that may have done something momentous like curing cancer failed to reach that potential because instead of a hand up, society gave them a push down. I’m inspired by young people, college students that show up for a campaign interested in fulfilling a college requirement and becoming so invested that they do 10 times the time requirement, sticking out long past the submission of their final grade. An entire campus of students moving in to a capitol building to stand up for their faculty and the quality of their education. An organizer who is hired by a campaign and provided not nearly enough training and none of the resources he needs, sent to a region the campaign cares little about, instead of sitting on his hands, he reaches for every resources available to him, learns on his own and becomes a great organizer despite all of that, delivering more votes than anyone projected in his region. I’m inspired by a young dem who not yet a citizen of this country, became so engaged in her community she ended up running the campaign for a large city mayor – she delivered victory and THEN became a citizen of this country a few days later. That is why I’m a Democrat.
I believe the Florida Young Democrats are an organization of tremendous unrealized potential, a powder keg of talent waiting to explode blue all over the state. I believe that a lack of leadership and direction, a lack of follow through and political savvy has left the organization on a hamster wheel for too long. I believe that my experience and know-how will be tremendous assets in making me an excellent national committeeman for the Florida Young Democrats. I already attend the statewide and national meetings fairly often, and will increase that rate. I look at the responsibilities assigned to the position as a list of “Required duties”, not a list of “only duties.” I believe the NCM (and NCW), should act as agents of the organization in all capacities, specifically I believe they have a greater responsibility to fund raise than has been exercised in the past. I have that capacity, I’ve done the work before. The Florida Young Democrats should be raising and spending well beyond ten times what they have been raising over the past several years. We should have paid staff, we should be conducting direct political action, we MUST be recruiting AND training candidates at all levels throughout the state. We are the margin of victory, its time we started acting like we recognize that. We must aim higher and work harder. I’m running because I believe I am the best person for office of National Committeeman of the Florida Young Democrats, I would be honored to be given the opportunity to prove that.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be on the road, attending the Florida Young Democrats 2011 Convention which will be occurring in conjunction with the Florida Democratic Party’s Jefferson Jackson Weekend at the Westin-Diplomat in Hollywood, Florida and Netroots Nation 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
At the FYD Convention, I’ll be conducting a training session on planning and executing events, joined by FYD Convention Chair Shannon Love. Here’s the blurb from the FYD Website:
Meetings and Events
If you and your chapter are interested in hosting events that kick ass and raise money, please join Democracy for America Trainer Mario Piscatella and Pinellas Young Democrats President Shannon Love as they explain great ways to plan, organize and execute successful events large and small. From building spreadsheets that track progress to finding different ways to bring in money, this session will provide you the tools you need to host everything from a regular meeting to a dinner, convention or other exciting event.
In Minneapolis, I’ll be conducting free consulting sessions with candidates of today, tomorrow and someday, as I posted about already.
Later in the summer, I expect to be at the Young Democrats of America National Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, and who knows where else I may end up.
I got up early this morning to appear on WJCT’s First Coast Connect, hosted by Melissa Ross. I was joined by Republican political consultant Jim Varian and Abel Harding of the Jacksonville Times-Union, we discussed Jacksonville’s Mayoral election results featuring Alvin Brown, Audrey Moran, Mike Hogan and Rick Mullaney.
Here is the link to the audio via MPA Political’s Media Archive: 3/23/2011 WJCT with Melissa Ross: Jax Mayor’s Race
Back in December, I posted Organizing – The Foundation of Progress, the most basic rules of organizing. I also promised to begin posting some forms and other tools to assist in organizing campaigns. I’m going to start with a basic fundraising spreadsheet, based on what is used on my December 7th post on fund raising: Conventional Un-Wisdom: Fund Raising and an event request form that will be involved in a future post on basic event execution.
On this spreadsheet, as described in Conventional Un-Wisdom: Fund Raising, you find a simple setup for collecting and tracking fund raising. This spreadsheet is not a replacement for a full featured fund raising database, like NGP, and certainly not an alternative to a qualified finance staffer. Across the base, you will find four worksheet tabs, Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3 and Phase 4. These tabs are for use in this exercise, start from Phase 1.
Phase 1/2 is the first steps, as detailed in Conventional Un-Wisdom: Fund Raising, it is the first step of listing everyone you (the candidate) know, are related to, went to school with, worked with, shared a cab with or saw pass out at 31 flavors. Focus on the names and how you know the people at this point, friends, family, volunteers, interns and later finance/campaign staff can help fill in details.
The immediate focus is creating a list that will help determine whether or not your candidacy would have the necessary support in the first 90 days to push forward. Unless you are a self funding candidate or some form of “rock star” candidate, there is no need to send mail or email in this first phase, except thank you notes. As such, mailing addresses shouldn’t be fretted over during “call time hours”.
As you flip to Phase 2, you see the addition of phone numbers and email addresses, and first ask/pledge tracking. Phase 3 adds more ask/pledge/collection data, and in Phase 4, you have a complete process sheet. There are notes columns for each fund raising quarter, and you will note that the first two donors are given a red background as they have maxed out and can no longer contribute to the campaign.
Some of the terminology / codes used:
|1st Contact – M – Ask|
= First contact – Method – how much is the ask
|1/11/2011 – F2F – $1000|
= the date of first contact – face to face – asking $1000
Other Methods of contact: Ph = Phone, Ev = Event, S = Surrogate (You might use S# to indicate a particular surrogate, ie S1 for the candidate’s wife/husband, they might be keyed as “S1 Ph” for instance.). At later stages of the campaign you will have contributions come in through methods that are not instant-direct contact, ie letters, the interwebs, etc. Of course, don’t expect this to be significant – roughly 80% of your fundraising will come from direct solicitations by the candidate via call time. That is, if you are raising money effectively, efficiently and on a level to compete in six and seven figure races.
I think all the other abbreviations/terms are understandable, but please feel free to post in the comments if you seek further clarification.
The second tool is an Event Request Form, a basic form identifying the who-when-what-where-why and how for events that the campaign is requested to appear at. The use of these forms will help campaign management triage the candidates schedule as well as the schedules of staff and surrogates. The more you know about an event in advance, the better prepared the campaign can be to properly execute the event.
This is a sample of a completed event request form using a fictional event hosted by the Fredonia City Democratic Party. The request is for the candidate, John Dough, the time, date and location are given as well as a contact number for the venue itself. The candidates arrival and departure times are provided, this is very important given that in some cases a candidate may have a very narrow window to appear at event, or may need to attend the entirety of a 2 or 3 hours event.
The event description identifies the event as a Pig Roast and that the MC will be the local party chairwoman. The keynote speaker is identified as well as the subject of the keynote speaker’s remarks, the program is vaguely described, though more information is desirable. Often at the times these forms are initially completed, some of the details are still in flux and thus follow up is needed. Before the day of the event, the campaign should ascertain where in the speaking lineup the candidate will appear, any additional information on appropriate attire, and more information about the audience composition.
We also note who is filing the request, in this case it is a campaign field staffer named Kelly Marks, and her contact information is readily available. Below, in the box, we have the contact information for the host organization.
As with everything else, the best thing you can do is hire high quality professionals to run your campaign, implement efficient processes and of course, bring in the best trainers. Before and after that, I hope tools like these will help your campaign deliver the results needed to advance progressive values.
In honor of the FDP’s dentist endorsed sugar coated retrospective of the 2010 election season, a look at how candidates and campaigns should handle the aftermath of a campaign in preparation for a future campaign.
First, despite amusing quotes projected by some of 2010′s candidates, no campaign is perfect, no campaign is without mistakes, no campaign is without missed opportunities. If you can’t locate your mistakes and missed opportunities, you need to seek help with the process from actual campaign professionals, not sycophants or cronies with titles of professionals, actual professionals.
Second, admitting weaknesses is the only path to correction and (continued or future) success. Often the notion of “protecting morale” is put ahead of admitting weakness, thereby causing the use of excuses. The biggest problem with excuses used to protect morale is that the people projecting them, begin to believe them. Those that are ignorant of the reality of history, including their own, are doomed to screw the constituents of their district again. Please spare us from that – we have too much experience with that already.
In the later stages of a campaign, there is value to morale and the general projection of a positive attitude, in this retrospective time, preceding the next campaign cycle, there is only value in honest assessments that result in improvements for the campaigns to come. However, even in those late stages of campaigns, while projecting confidence and positive attitudes, you must be able to assess your weaknesses as a candidate/campaign and take action to correct those weaknesses or mitigate the impact of those weaknesses on the outcome of the election. This is something that Republicans traditionally do very well and that Democrats typically do terribly, particularly in states of “inbred talent”.
If you ran in 2010 and are considering running again, in 2012 or some other future date, how do you proceed? First you need to start from the beginning, what were the goals set at the start of the campaign, where they the correct goals? Were those goals achieved, where did the campaign come up short? How does the landscape assessment from the start of the campaign match with the reality of what happened during the campaign? Were key factors ignored in the setting of goals or drafting of the landscape memo? What additional goals should have been set and tracked? What goals were set but never measured? Can we go back and measure them now?
Second, look for the most obvious mistakes, identify them and follow the trail thereafter to how many later missteps were caused by that “big mistake”. Identify each individual component of the mistake and think about how you/the campaign could have better handled the situation. Look at both the near and long term effects thereof…such as supporters you had that were lost and the potential future supporters that were lost before they could even be found. Utilizing timelines of different aspects of the campaign can be very helpful, charting fundraising, volunteer hours, voter commitments, event attendance and other measurable aspects of the campaign and then being able to overlay those timelines with the “missteps” as well as the “shining moments.”
Given a thorough assessment of the campaigns goals, mistakes and a complete timeline of the larger events/actions of the campaign, now we can drill down to more specific time usage. In campaigns there are three primary resources:
While many (novice) advisors will focus on the first two, as they are easily measured and leave a direct impression on observers, the most important and the only non-renewable resource is time. You cannot get back time wasted, you can recruit more volunteers and raise more money, but you can’t go back to the beginning and apply those volunteers and money to the campaign retroactively. The easiest time to gain money and volunteers is in the last stage of the campaign, the final 15-90 days preceding election day, they are both infinitely more valuable 91 to 300 days prior to the election.
Look at the candidates time expenditures in the first stage of the campaign, how were the hours of the day consumed in the first weeks and months of the campaign? Was there a staffer or volunteer assisting with the management of time and ensuring that time was utilized efficiently and effectively? Are there notes and reporting of productivity? Did the candidate have tangible goals throughout this early stage or were they flailing around trying to generate support haphazardly? Were long term relationships being built and did those relationships bear fruit later or was time invested that never paid off? Why? Was money being spent in this early stage wastefully?
In most “blow out” campaigns, you will find that the biggest problems occurred in the early part of the process, candidates were not provided with the proper training, knowledge and/or staffing to adequately build an effective campaign — or the candidates rejected that training/knowledge in belief they could do it different. If you as the candidate still believe you can win your race by having a million dollars fall in to your lap from some miracle online action, I can’t help you. If you expect the party (local, state or national) to carry you, raise the money for you, convince people you are worthy of their votes, I can’t help you. If you are ready and willing to do the work, the work starts now.
Through this process one must assess every staff person, from candidate on down to super-volunteers, and assess whether the person was in the right position, up to the tasks and responsibilities they had or would have in an alternate position and whether or not that person should be a significant part of any future campaign involving this candidate or district. Often we are quick to promote people in Democratic campaigns strictly based on the “top line” of their experience, the title they had — we need to look deeper and assess actual competence, talent and whether or not they learned and grew through the experience. Were they provided mentor-ship for moving to the next level? Expecting someone to magically attain the knowledge, training and understanding to do a very intense job through enthusiasm and desire is foolish, and yet common in Democratic campaigns. There are a number of great organizations that provide training like Democracy for America, the New Organizing Institute (new toolbox here), Emily’s List, Wellstone, and of course… MPA Political.
Many of the “powers that be” in the Florida Democratic Party and 2010 statewide campaigns are pushing out the notion that “national messaging” and “factors outside of Florida” doomed the 2010 campaigns in Florida. This is ridiculous. Was National Democratic messaging bad? Yes. Did it have an impact on Florida in 2010? Yes. Was that the most significant reason Florida Democratic candidates got smoked up and down the state and lost the Governorship to an unlikable crook? Hell no. Florida Democrats failed to project any quality messaging while the opposition worked unified effective messaging from early 2009 and through election day 2010. Florida Democrats campaigned for just a portion of the state while Florida Republicans went after the whole state. Fun fact: had every minimally financially viable Democrat running for state house and state senate won, we would still be in the minority in both bodies. In nearly all of the counties Alex Sink lost by 10% or more, we failed to field a candidate at either State House or State Senate. This failure to recruit and even try to compete was extremely costly, we also failed to effectively compete at the Congressional level, even in districts where we fielded quality candidates. Further costly was Democratic candidates being ashamed of Democratic values and attacking Democratic achievements. You didn’t see Republicans, even Tea Party super conservatives, trashing Republican achievements or distancing themselves from the GOP brand. They found ways to provide contrast without projecting embarrassment. If you are running as a Democrat, here’s a newsflash, the Republicans are going to portray you as a raging liberal, whether you are or not. The people who buy that aren’t ever going to vote for you, you can’t win them over by taking stabs at the left or adopting anti-progressive positions on key issues. All you will do is fracture your base and reduce the quantity and quality of volunteer support you will receive. Project strength and confidence in your values, whatever they may be.
None of our statewide Democratic nominees had good messaging post-primary, the first demonstration of effective unified messaging by the slate was 1/8/2011, with the projection of the message that the FDP committed no crimes and endured no investigations under the reign of Chairwoman Karen Thurman. Congratulations on unification, now lets find messaging that doesn’t suck. Being proud to have not (been found to have) committed crimes is the epitome of aiming low.
Nearly all of the emphasis at the 1/8/2011 meeting was put on improving performance in the later stages of campaigning, GOTV, Vote by Mail, etc, where yes, improving systems and strategies for those aspects of campaigning is always good, but problems in those areas can also be a symptom of greater problems in the early stages of campaigning, for which late stage process improvements cannot help. The greatest problems we face are in recruitment and training of candidates AND STAFF and message development and dissemination. Those problems won’t go away because we came up with a killer method of signing people up to vote by mail or a great database for managing volunteers on election day.
Maybe the projections and posturing of the 1/8/2011 meeting was just that – not the realities of the focus of the FDP, just a projection to maintain and improve morale while real changes are being made behind the scenes and honest assessments of mistakes have been made and significant changes are being made to correct those flaws/weaknesses in 2012. But, I’m not optimistic. I’ll wait for my phone to ring, I’m sure the FDP will call me to help train candidates and/or staff any day now…
Conventional Un-Wisdom: If a candidate has a strong profile, the correct issue positions and public speaking ability, they will attain institutional and establishment support. Donations and support will flow from party organizations, unions and traditional donors.
As I look for candidates to help and support around the nation, vet potential clients, and generally try to support the progressive movement, this is one of the fallacies that stifles any chance of success dead in its tracks. Many candidates belief is that if they take on an incumbent or an incumbent party on an issue they see as greatly important to the district, the support will come to them in the form of dollars, donors and volunteers. These candidates believe this because no one has given them a proper education on how candidate fund raising works, just slammed the door in their face after saying “come back after you’ve raised $xxx,xxx.” No clue is provided on how or where that money should come from, the proper techniques to attain it or where to find quality staffing. That is the reality of the Democratic Party in most of this country.
The reality is, those door slamming establishment figures aren’t wrong, but they aren’t helping themselves by not providing more information or explanation. To be a serious contender for a US Congressional seat anywhere in the country, you need to be able to raise roughly $200,000 from your own network in the first 90 days of your candidacy, assuming you started on the first day of a financial reporting period, subtract a day from the time frame for every day in to the period you start. What does “from your network” mean? Your friends, family, co-workers, colleagues, college classmates, high school classmates, kindergarten classmates and every member of your Little League team. Yes, even the kid you used to beat up in high school…or the one who beat you up. No, it doesn’t matter what their personal ideology is. They will contribute in support of having someone they know in Congress, they will contribute based on knowing someone with the same experience (attending X school, living in Y town, or enduring the same miserable boss at a job ten years ago), they will contribute because you asked them. That is the key, you have to ask. You have to reach out and make the effort to talk to them, in direct communication, not through an email or a letter, but face to face or over the phone.
What those door slammers are thinking as they slam the door is, “this guy/gal can’t get his own family to support his campaign, why should anyone else?” I can’t count how many candidates have complained to me about their struggles fund raising that I have pulled their disclosure reports to find they have less than one hundred unique donors. Their friends and family have not given even $20 to their campaign. Before approaching traditional donors, you should have a minimum of three hundred unique contributors, ideally more. This is how you demonstrate that your candidacy and campaign are a worthwhile investment to donors who don’t have any personal knowledge or understanding of you or your experience. This is where the resources come from to build your campaign staff, purchase your first materials (NOT YARD SIGNS), and begin developing a more complete campaign. During the process of collecting from these initial donors from your own network you don’t need fancy literature or precise messaging, it is a personal outreach from you to someone with a preexisting relationship or shared experience. It isn’t about your position on issues, it isn’t about your party affiliation, its about what you share – there is absolutely no benefit to lying.
To get started, there is a basic exercise. Sit down and write it down. This is a common practice in campaigns, one of the basic rules of organizing is “If it isn’t written down, it doesn’t exist.” The easiest way to do this is using a spreadsheet application, start just by listing the people you know will contribute and a conservative estimate of what they will give in the first 90 days. Build out the list using multiple columns for contributions and relational identification columns.
Here is an example (Click to enlarge):
At this point we are just looking to get the names of everyone you expect to contribute in the first 90 days “on paper.” The first run through might just be the names themselves, with the additional information added in later passes. Eventually the list will be expanded to included phone numbers, mailing addresses, email addresses, etc. It is very important to be honest (and conservative) with the dollar amounts assigned on this sheet. If you are over-confident in this exercise, all subsequent events in the process will fail. Column E is the amount you expect this specific donor to give in the 1st 90 days (first filing period), Column F is some mid campaign date, in a 15 month or longer campaign, I would use the end of the first calendar year, ie 12/31 as in the sample. Column G, “Potential”, is the maximum knowledge or research suggests the donor could give, or the maximum they have committed to giving over the entire length of the campaign. Remember that money not yet in the bank, isn’t anything you can count on. Until it is in your hands, it doesn’t exist.
A dollar raised 15 months prior to election day is worth significantly more than a dollar raised one month prior to election day, I estimate it to be around a factor of 25 to 1, but typically, campaigns bring in 1/3 to 1/2 of their total fund raising in the last 30 to 90 days. If that same money was harvested six months out, it would deliver far more impact. Money raised a year or more out is used to build a foundation, bring in higher caliber staffing, and build a complete and thorough campaign plan. It further helps to expand outreach to widen the base, develop larger fund raising networks and help to establish the narrative and define the candidate in the manner the campaign sets forth rather than the definition the opposing campaign prefers.
Start early and do the work before you start the campaign. Make your list, have someone you trust go through it with you, allow them to ask questions and expand the list through them. In this process you can also begin creating a timeline of your entire life experience, which you will need (on paper) later in the campaign building process. At this point you should also attend a DFA Training Academy, or similar program – really this is a step you should take when you start considering you might run “some day”, or if you just want to be a more effective activist and/or campaign supporter.
After you’ve brought in your contributions from your personal network and filed your first quarterly report showing 300, 400, 500, 1000 donors contributing $200,000+, you can begin outreach to those traditional donors, you can begin asking the party and other organizations for support, you have demonstrated you are willing and capable of doing the work. Make no mistake, running for Congress is a full time job and then some…if you think you are special and you can get away with 8 or 10 hour workdays, that you can be home to kiss your kids goodnight every night, you are very wrong. There is no forgiveness in this process, it is brutal and I have a great deal of respect for the men and women that sign up to endure it knowingly. The ones who sign up because they don’t know any better, that’s a problem we as a party need to be held responsible for, particularly when they become the nominee and still run low quality campaigns. That hurts the party in a long term fashion. We must run real challengers for every seat every cycle.