Matt Moon's blog

The Earned Media Failure of the GOP

I'm sitting here live just off the House floor where GOP members are continuing their protests against the Democrat majority for refusing an up or down vote on producing more American energy, especially offshore. This seems more relevant, now that McCain and Obama have finished their tiff over inflating tires. Today, around a dozen members here today, including the Minority Whip, Roy Blunt. They sent around an open letter last week that called upon Pelosi and her followers to return:

"We think it is unconscionable that Congress has gone on vacation before we have addressed the high gas prices that are crippling our economy and hurting millions of families. We are asking that you reconvene the House from your five-week vacation and schedule a vote on legislation to increase American energy production. Let us be clear, we are not asking for a guaranteed outcome, just the chance to vote."

Great language, but it's not getting any local media coverage. Of course, CNN and MSNBC would rather cover live events from small towns for Obama. And Fox News is just going to be Fox News.

If we're ever going to start successfully building a GOP farm team, we have to start feeding stuff to local papers, radio talk shows, and TV stations. The fact is that the party leadership focuses too much about getting the right amount of coverage in the New York Times or on CNN's Situation Room. But the fact is that local media outlets are always clamoring for stories and are willing to eat anything they're fed. Plus, we can be more creative with local media, where we have to be careful with what we put out to national outlets.

Example ... In the 2004 Senate race in Alaska between Tony Knowles (D) and Lisa Murkowski (R), one of the best moves of the campaign came when Tony Knowles started claiming in the spring of that year that he could convince other Dems in the Senate to drill in ANWR. Murkowski replied back by publishing an open letter to Tony Knowles, inviting him to take up a desk in her Senate office and start working Democrat senators that summer before the election. It made Knowles look like a fool. Sure it didn't get press coverage in the Washington Post or MSNBC. But it was front-page, leading story stuff for the Anchroage Daily News and KTUU-NBC.

Our earned media failure isn't a failure on the national level; it's a failure on the local and state level. Too many members of Congress that are on our side have an adversarial relationship with local media. Let's make our gains in new media while also making sure that any national conservative movement, that identifies local issues and leaders, has relationships with local old media outlets as well.

Michael McCaul of the Texas 10th district is speaking now ... I'm about to step onto the floor to watch.

AK-AL Update: NBC Affilliate Holds Primary Debates

Last night, KTUU (the NBC affilliate in Anchorage) held two separate primary election debates for Alaska's lone congressional seat, one for the two Democrats and the other for the three Republicans. I don't have the whole debate yet, but you can see some detailed coverage from the Anchorage Daily News and KTUU. (Sidenote: The ADN and KTUU essentially have a media duopoly in Alaska, and both are as liberal as you get in a red state.)

By now everybody knows two of the three Republican candidates: incumbent Don Young and Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell. The unknown factor is Gabrielle Ledoux, a former mayor of Kodiak and currently a state legislator. Although she's a long shot, and has been known to have liberal tendencies in the state legislature, Ledoux is a very good fundraiser and has been running ads statewide for three weeks. After a couple weeks of ads, her poll numbers jumped from 1% to 10% in the horserace, with most of that vote probably coming from the "anti-Don" crowd. Those who are supporting Sean Parnell are concerned.

The two Democrats who are running couldn't be any more different. Diane Benson is a Native Alaskan who has a son who was injured in Iraq. She ran against Don last year and received 40% of the vote. Although she was the former standard-bearer of the Alaska Green Party, which opposed drilling in ANWR (something that the Alaska Democratic Party won't go near), she has now modified her position. Benson seems to have a solid constituency with rural Alaskans and those within the party that feels that she deserves the nomination based on the last cycle's result.

Ethan Berkowitz is a former five-term legislator, four of those terms as Democratic Minority Leader in the State House. He is the odds on favorite. When I was talking to a reporter whose family is involved in the Alaska Democratic Party, she described Ethan Berkowitz as essentially a carbon copy of former Governor Tony Knowles and current senate candidate Mark Begich: someone who comes off as a right-leaning moderate Democrat in order to be pragmatic, but is actually very liberal at heart.

The primary is on August 26th. Sarah Palin's primary victory two years ago produced a 35% turnout, one of the highest primary turnouts in state history. Two contested house races as well as plenty of ballot initiatives will probably get 35-40% out again. Watch closely!

McCain vs. Obama on AZ Proposition 104

Once again, Barack Obama is trying to defend himself against attacks that don't exist. Many, including myself, documented this back in late June. Yes, Barack, we know that you don't look "like all those other presidents on the dollar bills," but you're trying to play both sides of the race card. Chales Hurt of the New York Post put it best today:

This racial calumny is completely unfair, diminishes his own campaign, and certainly is the worst possible way to win over those blue-collar white Democrats in Ohio and Pennsylvania who picked Hillary Rodham Clinton over him in the primary. Barack Obama should ... quit this whining and fantasizing about Republicans making fun of him because he doesn't look like George Washington.

So it's no surprise that Barack Obama has publicly stated his opposition to Arizona Proposition 104, the Arizona Civil Rights Inititiave. (See my previous post on Ending Racial Preferences This November.) Ward Connerly of the American Civil Rights Institute has been sponsoring similar campaigns for initiatives in Colorado and Nebraska. They have been successful in California and Michigan, but came under fire in Missouri this year. Connerly responds to Obama's opposition in the National Review today:

What he fails to say is that it is not only “communities of color” that experience hardships and difficulties. Nor does he say how, as president, he can achieve his stated goal of uniting the American people while asking those not “of color” to look the other way when discriminated against. If Obama is truly concerned about divisiveness, why didn’t he speak out when his foot soldiers at ACORN were taking pride in blocking our petition circulators from gathering signatures in Missouri? Their despicable tactics of harassment give new meaning to the term “divisive.”

In a response to my previous post, Jeff Roberts wanted to see Obama take a position on this. Jon Sandor lamented that McCain probably woulnd't take a position. Not to fear! John McCain has come out in support of this initiative, and should go to Nebraska, Colorado and Missouri to support their causes.

When building a farm team, it's not only important to identify potential leaders; it's important to identify issues that can create sustainable majorites in critical states. This issue, along with bread-and-butter economic issues at the local and state level, have to be well-analyzed. And making the presidential candidates take positions on these issues that have a more direct impact with folks on Main Street, instead of focusing solely on national issues, is important to do.


Obama University @ 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

The excessive audacity of the junior Senator from Illinois (as well as its symols) have been well documented by now. Whether it's the mock presidential seal, the replacement of the American flag with a campaign logo on the tail of his plane, or his announcement of becoming a "symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions," it's become clear that Barack Obama is treating this summer more like a victory tour than a time to campaign, as Dana Millbank explains in the Washington Post today:

"Barack Obama has long been his party's presumptive nominee. Now he's becoming its presumptuous nominee ... Some say the supremely confident Obama -- nearly 100 days from the election, he pronounces that "the odds of us winning are very good" -- has become a president-in-waiting. But in truth, he doesn't need to wait: He has already amassed the trappings of the office, without those pesky decisions."

Jodi Kantor of the New York Times has been writing a series of pieces detailing segments of the presidential candidates' biographies. Today, she published a story about Barack Obama's days as a law school professor in Chicago, his third profession at the time along with being a civil rights attorney and State Senator. Kantor expounds on the Obama dichotomy as an academic:

"As his reputation for frank, exciting discussion spread, enrollment in his classes swelled. Most scores on his teaching evaluations were positive to superlative. Some students started referring to themselves as his groupies ...

"While students appreciated Mr. Obama’s evenhandedness, colleagues sometimes wanted him to take a stand. When two fellow faculty members asked him to support a controversial antigang measure, allowing the Chicago police to disperse and eventually arrest loiterers who had no clear reason to gather, Mr. Obama discussed the issue with unusual thoughtfulness, they say, but gave little sign of who should prevail — the American Civil Liberties Union, which opposed the measure, or the community groups that supported it out of concern about crime."

This description of Professor Obama is exactly the description of Democratic presidential nominee Obama: someone who likes the sound of his own voice and basks in his own popularity, while also being uncommitted to anything substantive. This lack of committment on taking strong stands has been shown throughout the campaign, including his multiple reactions to Jeremiah Wright and shifting positions on the future of Iraq.

Candidate Barack Obama isn't what concerns me; what I'm actually afraid of is Professor Obama, and how this academic mindset along with his university friends that make up his policy team might actually govern. The reason he has one of the most liberal voting records in the United States Senate is not because of his impulsive need to be popular; it is because academia takes a much higher priority than sound decision-making. Let's take a look at why having an Oval Office filled with professors would be detrimental for America.

Ballot Initiative Update: ND Income Tax Cut

This past week, 15,677 signatures were filed with the North Dakota Secretary of State's office for the Income Tax Cut Inititiave. Sponsored by the North Dakota chapter of Americans for Prosperity, the initiative, if certified for the November ballot, would slash North Dakota's state corporate income tax rates by 15 percent and the individual income tax rates by 50 percent starting in 2009.

Apparently, North Dakota exepcts a budget surplus of anywhere between $700 million to $1 billion next year, so supporters of the initiative are looking for both tax relief and restrained government spending during these "sunny days." Smart!

But the AARP is opposing the measure because "it would hamper state and local governments’ and school boards’ ability to respond to emergencies or shifting priorities in the future." The North Dakota Farm Bureau is also opposing the measure citing "worries that it would place the burden of spending on increased property taxes." Now maybe North Dakota should start a government "rainy day fund" that is concomitant with this tax cut, but it's amazing what poor excuses are made to not cut taxes. (But I invite any North Dakotans to explain why voting Yes on this inititiave would be a bad idea.)

This will be the second income tax related ballot initiative this year, joining the Massachusetts Income Tax Repeal. While well intentioned, the Massachusetts initiative is a bit extreme as it would completely get rid of the 5.3% tax on wages.

With so much focus on the national economy during this presidential election cycle, there has been a lot of emphasis on the candidates' tax and economic growth policies. Folks in the broader national conservative movement need to realize that not only do local and state taxes have just as much of an effect on the economy as national taxes do; state and local tax, budget, government transparency, and other localized bread and butter issues can help build our farm team, as previously discussed.

GOTV: Past, Present & Future

Promoted and bumped. -Patrick

I've been involved with many facets of many different types of campaigns: local school board, city council, state legislature, statewide gubernatorial, congressional, ballot initiative, and in-state presidential organizations. When I occassionally speak at campaign management and organization seminars, I am often asked the question: what is the most important part of the campaign? That question is so hard to answer because (1) campaigns are short-term "fire-fighting" operations as much as they are long-term strategic organziations, and (2) each part of the campaign (or at least a good campaign) is interconnected.

Yes, most of the money that gets spent is on paid media, and some will say that because of this, fundraising is the most important facet. While I don't disagree, something that I focus a lot of my attention on is GOTV efforts, a low-cost and high-importance category that has to be planned from the very beginning of the campaign but is executed in the last 72 hours.

So here are a few items of interest that all deal with GOTV efforts:

Netroots vs. Grassroots: Part II

In Part I of my post on this subject, I asked two questions that I found relevant after reading Kirsten Powers' description of the divide between the netroots and the grassroots of the Left. How will the "Netroots of the Right" be described 4 years from now? And can the grassroots of the Republican Party ever merge successfully with the future netroots of the conservative movement? I particularly enjoyed a response from "davidfarrar" who says we should have a long term, "beyond GOTV," plan to attract people to the netroots of the Right in order to give added value to the grassroots of the Right, and further mentions that the Georgia GOP is starting to do this.

Jason Horowitz of the New York Observer wrote a long story on the recent Netroots Nation convention in Austin. He confirmed the divide between the institutional Democratic leadership and the bloggers when "the bloggers in the crowd were asked to act like grown-ups and limit their grievance-airing to an allotted ten-second boo-hiss session before [Nancy] Pelosi took the stage." Ed Madej, a blogger with DailyKOS, had an interesting historical observation about the netroots of the Left:

Ad Watch in AK-SEN: Mark Begich (D)

In one of the most hotly contested U.S. Senate races in the nation, incumbent Ted Stevens (who has been in the Senate since 1968) will most likely be in a tight race in Alaska with Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich. (Both candidates have primaries to go through.) Begich comes from the mold of former Democratic Governor Tony Knowles, who lost a Senate race four years ago to junior Senator Lisa Murkowski.

Begich came out with his first ad a few weeks ago, and it is (admittedly) a good ad that starts off by talking about his father who was a Congressman that went missing in a plane accident in the early '70s:


From the outside, Begich looks like a new, fresh candidate that came out of nowhere to be mayor of Alaska's largest city. The fact is that Begich has been a political player with the Democratic Party since the early '80s, when he worked for then Mayor Tony Knowles, and then served on the Anchorage Assembly (city council) for three terms. With a long political history comes a long list of deeds.

Here's a great "ad watch" response from the NRSC, providing some responses to Mark Begich's ad and his time as politician in Anchorage:


It gets more interesting because while Begich has decided to spend his money on TV ads, his Democratic primary opponent, Ray Metcalfe (who was a former Republican legislator and founder of the now defunct Republican Moderate Party of Alaska) has decided to spend his money on a bus to take people on a "tour of Mark Begich's Anchorage". Metcalfe explains in his own words in a local NBC news affiliate story:

"My campaign has purchased a bus, and we're going to start advertising our three-hour tour," Metcalfe said. "We're going to take people around and show them how real estate is used to launder money into the pockets of politicians. We're going to show them the transactions; explain them. It gets pretty hard to deny when you see it."

I encourage everybody to watch the Stevens vs. Begich race closely this fall. We'll see what Stevens can do without much help from the national Republican organization, and what Begich can do with anticipated millions coming in from the DNC and DSCC along with the possible coattails of the Obama campaign opening up multiple field offices in the state.

Thoughts and comments please!

Netroots vs. Grassroots

It's official: "netroots" is accepted as a real word by Merriam-Webster dictionary. They provide the following definition: "the grassroots political activists who communicate via the Internet especially by blogs."

While this is a blog where those on the right come to share ideas and disagree, it's always nice to see an online strategy fight between Democrats. Kirsten Powers, registered Democrat, former Clinton administration official and now columnist for the New York Post, today wrote a scathing critique of liberal bloggers like Markos Moulitsas. To give some emphasis to her distaste, the title of the column today is "Net-Roots Ninnies: Dem Left's Dumb Bam Slams." Let's see what Powers has to say:

"One top liberal blogger opined last week that Obama's drop in a recent Newsweek poll resulted from his vote for a compromise on FISA, the intelligence surveillance law. Ridiculous: The average American voter can't describe what FISA is. Meanwhile, a virtual mutiny is taking place on Obama's campaign Web site, which is swamped with angry complaints that Obama has sold out his 'base.' Newsflash to the netroots and the media (which seems perpetually confused on this issue): The netroots are not the base of the Democratic Party. Overwhelmingly white, male and highly educated, they're a loud anomaly in a party that's wholly dependent on the votes of African Americans, women and working-class whites."

I love it! This really does show the central divide in the modern-day Democratic party: the educated white male who voted for Obama in the primaries and the working-class whites who voted for Clinton in the primaries. Matt Bai, from the NYT Magazine, points out something interesting that many who've looked at the numbers also emphasize: "Obama did best in areas that have either a large concentration of African-American voters or hardly any at all, but he struggled in places where the population is decidedly mixed."

Building a GOP Farm Team: Part II

Promoted by Patrick

This is a continuation of a previous post on why it's important for the next leaders of the GOP to focus their attention on identifying local and state leaders, as well as local and state issues, to win back the middle class:

"Major league/professional sports teams have 'farm team' systems where they can identify and train prospects. The best franchises in baseball have fully developed minor league system: Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, etc. The NBA only recently saw the usefulness of having a minor league system with the NBDL ... developing the Republican Minor League will be just as important, if not more important, than keeping the Republican Major League in line."

I was interested in a couple of the responses to this post, including a comment that argues that we should try our best to run in every race as well as a promotion of Slatecard, a Red counterpart to ActBlue.

I recently received an email from The Freedom Project, the PAC that provides "assistance to Republican candidates for federal office" run by John Boehner. (They pride themselves on being a "a web-based clearinghouse for Republican activism featuring online fundraising and grassroots tools, and regular updates on key races and critical issues.") The email, called "The Candidate Kit", was giving short blurbs on energy issues and legislation in Congress and giving advice to all candidates on messaging. Example from the email:

"Democrats continue to peddle their thoroughly debunked "use it or lose it" hoax. The Wall Street Journal calls it "obviously false." [READ MORE] Investor's Business Daily debunks a number of other "energy myths," nothing that "many in Congress seem either disconneted from reality or intentionally disingenuous about our energy crunch." ALL CANDIDATESChallenge your opponent on supporting Democrats' "drill nothing" energy policy; point out that "use it or lose it" is already law and ask them to back their claims."

The obvious benefit from this is that all candidates, incumbents and challengers, can benefit from a clearinghouse that can assist them in messaging on national issues, especially an issue as hot as energy. My concern is that we start becoming lazy like the Democrats who share and plagarize messaging across the country in congressional and senate races.

Syndicate content