Saturday, February 06, 2016

Sometimes When It Sounds Like A Crackpot Idea, It Is-- Meet Run For America, The Idiots Primarying Raul Grijalva


As if Wall Street front groups like Third Way and No Labels weren't enough, there's a new bunch of assholes in town with a similarly self-righteous "mission." Meet David Burstein-- and self-proclaimed spokesperson for millennials-- and his nutty little project, Run for America. He claims to be "a bipartisan political consulting firm with a mission to reimagine politics and reinvigorate government. We strategically identify and work to elect bold leaders to Congress who are committed to innovative approaches that tackle our nation’s major challenges." His infantile dream continues into the realm of political sci-fi: "With cutting-edge campaigns and dynamic candidates, Run for America helps remove the barriers of running for office. RFA helps candidates navigate the process so they can run with integrity, win with independence and provide the leadership America deserves. Our Candidates will serve their communities by ending gridlock, increasing participation and bringing citizens together. Together, Run for America and its candidates can restore the promise of America for the 21st century." Yesterday these clowns had a fundraising call to roll out their two lame candidates and I was invited.

So I rsvp-ed. I got a response from the money person, Colleen Coyle
Hi Howie -

Thank you so much for taking the time to join us for an important conference call with Run for American on Thursday, February 4. We are excited to have your participation!

Please see below the call details:

Date: February 4, 2016
Time: 4:00 PM EDT
Number: (877)-229-8493
Passcode: 114689
Closed to Press

Please let me know if you have any questions!

Kind Regards,
The next day, yesterday, just before the call I got this e-mail from the same slimy little Colleen:
Howie -

It is with regrets that we have to cancel this call. We will be re-scheduling it at a later date and I will let you know!

Sorry about this.

Kind Regards,
I could tell immediately she was lying like a rug. So I called anyway at the appointed time and got on their childish little call with their two unimpressive candidates, one goof-ball running against Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee, and one running against some random Republican backbencher no one's ever heard of. Burstein original secret targeting list-- which everyone in Washington had an hour after he published it:
 Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ)
 Grace Napolitano (R-CA)
 Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX)
 Dave Brat (R-VA)
 Hank Johnson (D-GA)
 Doug LaMalfa (R-CA)
 Steve King (R-IA)
Louie Gohmert (R-TX)
Trent Franks (R-AZ)
 Jody Hice (R-GA)
 Billy Long (R-MO)
 Doug Lamborn (R-CO)
 Cedric Richmond (D-LA)
 Scott DesJarlis [sic] (R-TN)
 Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI)
 Jim McDermott (D-WA)
 Anna Eshoo (D-CA)
 Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)
 Scott Tipton (R-CO)
 Jim McGovern (D-MA)
Dave Schweikert (R-AZ)
Debbie Dingell (D-MI)
 Steve Knight (R-CA)
 Vicky Hartzler (R-MO)
 Maxine Waters (D-CA)
 Steve Lynch (D-MA)
 Rick Larsen (D-WA)
 Mike Capuano (D-MA)
And of all these congressmen he's picked Raúl Grijalva and Doug LaMalfa, who they referred to on the call as "Do Nothing Doug." Somehow huckster-chief Burstein decided Raúl is the anti millennial, gridlock-inducing candidate they want to go after? The guy who actually introduced the legislation for debt free college and who has never voted to shut the government down? The first I had ever heard of Burstein's deceptive silliness was nearly a year ago.
Burstein is nothing if not preternaturally motivated. As a 16-year-old high school student, he looked at the results of the 2004 election and grew frustrated. Less than half of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 had turned up to the polls, and even that level of turnout was supposed to be a victory. (It was up a major jump from the demographic’s paltry 36 percent turnout in 2000.) Burstein was still too young to vote himself, but it made his blood boil.

...The problem, he realized, was that young people were looking at the candidates the two major parties were putting before them and walking away profoundly unsatisfied. If the political system nominated candidates that cared about the issues facing millennials, he reasoned, then maybe more millennials would start caring about the political system. Congress’s approval rating is sitting at a dismal 20 percent. It stands to reason that injecting new blood into an institution that people can now only call “the world’s deliberative body” ironically couldn’t make things that much worse.

The now 26-year-old Burstein’s newest venture, Run for America, is the culmination of that vision. Launched earlier this month, it’s an ambitious plan to use social media, big data, and Silicon Valley’s alternately vaunted and derided entrepreneurial spirit to bring a new generation of candidates into national office.

“I thought about what the problem in our political system is: It’s the question of talent,” Burstein said. “In every industry, there are these super aggressive programs for identifying, training, and retaining really great talent. In fact, we spent $75 billion a year in the U.S. on talent recruitment and identification. The only place we don’t have that kind of system at work is in politics.”

Largely working within the two-party system, Burstein aims to locate a new crop of candidates-- one free from many of the burdens of the past-- and arm them with the tools they need to get into office. “It seemed obvious that if we wanted to solve our political challenges, we needed to have different people because people solve problems,” he continued. “Systems can help, but people solve problems.”

...Run for America’s plan is to select a dozen congressional candidates to run for the House of Representatives in 2016. While the candidates will run inside the two-party system-- either as Democrats or Republicans-- Run for America aims to fill in the role traditionally played by party officials or party-affiliated political consultants. After identifying a candidate, Run for America will also run the campaigns of those candidates, handing everything from polling and fundraising to legal work and marketing strategy, all of which Run for America will charge the candidates for. The organization is split into two parts, a for-profit benefit corporation (essentially a designation that indicates that an independent third party has verified a company has a legitimate social mission in addition to making money) that does the campaign work and a nonprofit 501(c)(4) focused on grassroots organizing and mobilization.

Burstein argues that he’s designed a new model for doing campaign work based on using shared services between all of the Run for America candidates, which he hopes will allow the organization to charge one-third of the prices offered by traditional candidates. Campaigning on the cheap reduces the need for constant fundraising—one of the realities of political life that’s strangling Washington. It’s a relationship that Burstein wants to maintain over the course of a candidate’s career, helping them get reelected after their term is up.

“We’ll be there for them as long as they want to be there and as long as they stay true to their values,” he said.

However, the core of how Burstein plans to keep costs down is by being extremely selective in where Run for America runs candidates. The first thing the organization did was a comprehensive data analysis of every single congressional district in the country based on 40 different data sets. The goal was to find the districts with the type of voters who would be the most willing to vote for the type of candidates it would run-- places where it could mount a successful yet thrifty campaign. Run for America based those calculations on variables like percentage of the electorate under the age of 35 and where there was a high volume of registered independents. Run for America is now soliciting both applications from hopeful candidates themselves and outside recommendations for candidates.

Burstein remained vague on precisely what the Platonic ideal of a Run for America candidate would look like.

“It could be really interesting for educators, engineers, or veterans, or people who have run nonprofits. Their current job titles are less important than the quality and caliber of who they are,” he said. “One thing we’re not looking for is people who are planning on being politicians for the rest of their lives. We have a lot of that. What we’re looking for is people who don’t want to run for office—people who can be drafted into service. They don’t have to do it forever, but do it for a period of time and serve your country in that way.”

Listening to Burstein, a lot of this doesn’t seem particularly revolutionary.

Calling for citizen legislators to rise up and take back Washington from professional politicians is nothing new. It was, in a large way, the same mantra of the Tea Party movement, except the Tea Party put an intense focus on installing non-politician politicians at the state level, something with which Run for America doesn’t concern itself.

Everyone runs as a Washington outsider, and the system gradually turns everyone into a Washington insider. It’s the circle of life, and it moves us all.

Burstein didn’t respond to questions about precisely what type of hard choices a youthful Run for America candidate, unconcerned about their future electoral prospects, would be able to make that older, career politicians might not be. Cut Social Security benefits to ensure the entitlements system security for time immemorial? Repeal the popular but regressive home mortgage interest tax deduction to fill a big hole in the federal budget? Impose a carbon tax to fight global warming?

...In the end, all of this depends on Run for America’s candidates getting elected in the first place. The Beltway is littered with the metaphorical graves of similarly idealistic reform-minded organizations looking to clean up Washington. Mayday PAC, a super PAC set up by visionary Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig with the admittedly ironic goal of raising boatloads of money on behalf of candidates who pledged to get big money out of politics, ended up spending $10 million only to see the majority of its candidates go down in flames.
The purpose of the call was to solicit donations to Run For America's PAC, Together For America and to push their February 29th New York City fundraiser at the Irvington Hotel. Colleen and Burstein were pumping for donors at the Pioneer level ($10,000) up to $100,000. So far they've collected $9,850, given $2,700 to each their two candidates, Doug Wright in Redding, CA and James Villarreal in Tucson, AZ and $3,562 towards the party at the Rivington. Burstiein contributed $240 and he got a Philadelphia attorney, Ronald Levine to kick down $5,000 and the found of the World Poker Tour, Steven Lipscomb (CEO of Practicrats in Santa Fe), to put in $1,000. Burstein plans to use that to "fundamentally change the American political system." His two candidates:
Meet Doug Wright.

Doug is a proud 5th generation native of Burney, CA, a small logging town outside of Redding. Driven by his work ethic, Doug went to college despite the odds. As an undergrad, Doug worked full time for a local attorney to pay for school, which sparked his interest in law. He then received his JD and returned home to serve the community where he was raised. He started his own law firm, Wright Nash, where he represents small business owners and advocates for everyday people. Doug launched his campaign on January 20th for California’s 2st Congressional District with over hundred of his community supporters in Redding.
Actually, he's running in California’s 1st Congressional District but never mind that; it's nearby. The incumbent he's challenging in the primary is Doug LaMalfa. According to, Wright said he was "selected to challenge LaMalfa by Run for America. The consulting firm, whose focus is on getting millennials to run for Congress, contacted him via LinkedIn. He said he was told the firm was targeting districts it did not agree were being represented effectively."
Meet James K. Villarreal.

Dr. Villarreal is a 5th generation Arizonan, whose fascination with rockets and all things that flew put him on the path of aerospace engineering. He currently serves his community a Senior Propulsion Engineer where he focuses on rocket motor design, development, and testing.  He also is an Educator where he teaches the next generation of young Arizonan Rocket Scientists. He is exploring a bid for Congress in Arizona’s 5th District which includes the city of Tucson.
What are the odds, but they got his district wrong too. He's running in Arizona’s 3rd District, although you can understand why he's confused; he doesn't live in the district. He works for Raytheon and is an adjunct at the University of Arizona. He was asked several questions on the phone-- primarily about the Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument effort and uranium mining and climate change. He couldn't answer any of them. "I don't have all the facts so I don't want to make a statement... There's a need for uranium and a need for conservation," he opined" and said something non-committal that included the troubling line "whether or not climate change is real or not." He also said he thinks he can win the primary against Grijalva because almost no one votes in the district.

If you'd like to make sure this dithering imbecile doesn't get anywhere near Congress, you can contribute to Grijalva's campaign here at the One America Act Blue Page or by tapping the thermometer below:
Goal Thermometer

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At 11:53 PM, Anonymous ap215 said...

So these guys wanna fight fire with fire well i say bring it on.

At 12:46 AM, Blogger Doug Kahn said...

Great post, Howie. Made me laugh, which was great, since I just sat had to sit through "Hail, Caesar".


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