Sunday, May 07, 2017

House Campaign Spending Record Shattered-- GA-06 Could Cost $40 Million


Handel was smart enough to prevent any photos with the toxic Trump but... this happened

In 2000 the Democratic grassroots was hot to get revenge on House Republicans for impeaching Bill Clinton. One obvious strategy was to target the 13 House Republicans from the Judiciary Committee who served as "managers" (prosecutors) during the process. But most of them were not really good targets. 7 were in prohibitively red districts, where Democrats couldn't plausibly expect to win:
Chris Cannon (UT)- R+26
Bob Barr (GA)- R+23
Steve Buyer (IN)- R+17
Jim Sensenbrenner (WI)- R+12
Ed Bryant (TN)- R+12
Asa Hutchinson (AR)- R+11
Lindsey Graham (SC)- R+14
The chairman, Henry Hyde (IL), was both popular and entrenched and was reelected with 59%. Both the Florida members retired from the House, Bill McCollum to make an unsuccessful Senate run and Canady to honor a term limits pledge and to take a state judicial appointment. Both seats were held by Republicans, respectively Ric Keller and Adam Putnam. George Gekas (PA) was reelected with 72% of the vote in a red district with an R+7 PVI. Onlyy 2 seats looked possible-- OH-01 (Steve Chabot) and CA-27 (James Rogan). Democrats and Republicans were closely matched in each district and both, though slightly red, were starting top trend blue. The Democrats recruited a decent candidate in Cincinnati city councilman John Cranley but Chabot outspent him $1,099,555 to $465,745 and beat him 54-45%.

The real action was in Los Angeles County. The Pasadena, Glendale, Burbank district had been very red while Carlos Moorhead represented the area from 1973 until he had to retire with the onset of Alzheimer's in 1997. Rogan was elected with 50.2% against Democrat Doug Kahn. In 2000, though, the DCCC recruited a conservative state senator, Adam Schiff and that race became the most expensive House race in U.S. history. It was a contested that pitted the pro- and anti-Clinton forces from around the country. Schiff raised $4,660,714 and Rogan raised $6,871,077, immense sums for a House back then. Schiff beat Rogan 52.7% to 43.9%, a surprisingly big margin in a district few people realized was turning blue so rapidly.

17 years later and that kind of money doesn't seem like that big a deal. The Alan West-Patrick Murphy shattered the Schiff-Rogan record in 2012 but last week the GA-06 special election to replace Tom Price topped that record. Widely seen as a referendum on Trump, money has been pouring in from both sides. Politico reported that candidates and outside groups have aired or reserved more than $29.7 million worth of TV ads alone. "Cash is flowing in at such saturation levels that Democrat Jon Ossoff’s campaign had the money for everything from Korean radio ads to free Lyft rides for voters on primary day. The Atlanta NBC station has even bumped reruns of The Andy Griffith Show from their regular slot in order to extend its local newscasts and make more room for political ads.
“Everybody has shoved their chips into the middle of the table, and neither side can afford to lose,” said former GOP Rep. Tom Davis, who chaired the NRCC from 1998 to 2002 and said the record-breaking spending has elevated the race into a “real test of narrative” for both parties.

“Republicans can’t afford to lose this because it changes the narrative and it makes it easier for Democrats to recruit candidates and fundraise,” Davis said. “If Democrats lose, then it punctures their narrative of a coming anti-Trump wave.”

The cost of the race between Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel is going to shatter the previous recorded high of $29.6 million-- set in Palm Beach County, Fla., in 2012 by former GOP Rep. Allen West, former Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy and outside groups, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The $29.7 million total in Georgia, compiled by a source tracking media spending in the district, only includes money spent on TV ads.

But the campaigns and outside groups are also pumping millions of dollars into get-out-the-vote activities, mailers, radio and more. And the runoff Election Day is still six weeks away, on June 20.

“It’s entirely possible that by the time the books are closed on this race, there will be over $40 million spent in the special and in the runoff,” said Chip Lake, a Republican strategist who works in Georgia. “I’m at a loss for words.”

That staggering total reflects the special election’s unprecedented national profile. It exploded onto the scene this spring as a potential referendum on President Donald Trump’s popularity, elevating Ossoff-- a little-known first-time candidate-- into an online fundraising dynamo who raised more than $8.3 million, largely from small donors scattered around the country, in just three months at the start of the year.

As one of the first special elections of Trump’s presidency, it became an outlet for “the grassroots excitement, which is propelling the outrageous spending on both sides,” said Taryn Rosenkranz, a Democratic digital fundraising consultant.

Ossoff’s flush campaign forced Republican outside groups to spend millions to keep him from winning a majority in the April all-party primary, which would have won him the seat. Ossoff ended up getting just more than 48 percent in April-- a near-miss that improved on Hillary Clinton’s 46-percent showing in the district last November, the first hint that the ancestrally Republican seat, where Price and others typically carried 60-plus percent of the vote, could ever be competitive.

However, the result also gave Republicans the chance to regroup and unify behind a single candidate.

Since qualifying for the runoff against Ossoff, Handel has benefited from the intensity, too. Her campaign said it raised more than $1 million in the week after the primary, and hundreds of thousands more came in when Trump held a fundraiser for her in Atlanta. House Speaker Paul Ryan has also held a lucrative fundraiser for Handel.

Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC with ties to House Republican leadership, has announced its intent to spend $8.5 million by the end of the runoff — a record for an outside group in a House race. Its ads have cast Ossoff as a rubber stamp for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and its staff have spent the spring knocking on Republicans’ doors, urging them to turn out to vote.

It is money that won’t be available for other House races in the 2018 midterms, which are expected to be highly competitive. But Ian Russell, a former deputy executive director of the DCCC, called the small-dollar donations powering Ossoff a “renewable resource” for 2018 races.

“This, to me, is a great sign of the environment heading into 2018 when there will be so many more races to see this energy,” Russell said. “Even if Ossoff comes up short, it doesn’t change the fact that Republicans are hemorrhaging segments of the electorate that they need to win in 2018.”

Goal Thermometer It’s also a warning for Republican incumbents that they could face historic spending against them in a year and a half.

“If Democrats are able to raise small dollars from donors in a big way like they’ve done so far, then this is probably going to be the most expensive midterm we’ve seen thus far,” said one national Republican strategist. “It’s the clearest signal yet for every single Republican member of the House running for reelection that if you are not raising money and if you are not running a professional campaign, you are vulnerable to defeat.”

So far, the money has given Ossoff the flexibility to run an expansive two-pronged campaign-- a pavement-pounding endeavor to harness Democratic energy and boost turnout to maximum levels, and an all-out ad blitz aimed at persuading conservative-leaning swing voters to support a Democrat.

...It’s unclear whether the contributors giving this money online will keep up the intensity that powered Ossoff so far. But there’s little sign that the Democratic base will stop getting provoked into action by Trump. (Democratic groups raised millions of dollars Thursday after House Republicans passed their Obamacare repeal bill.) And many Republicans are just as motivated to defend him.

“It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which 2018 will not be the election that shatters midterm spending record as well because we still have Donald Trump as president,” said Lake, the Georgia Republican consultant. “And he’s proven to be an activating force for both Democrats and Republicans.”
This week Ossoff got a lucky break when a federal judge blocked the ultra-partisan Republican Secretary of State's 90-day voter registration deadline. Ossoff's voter registration efforts have been massive (over 100 new voters per day)-- perhaps game-changing-- and now all of those new newly registered, very motivated voters will get to cast ballots in the runoff next month. The two most recent polls-- one showing Ossoff ahead by 1 point and one showing Handel ahead by 2 points-- are both well within the margin of error. The race looks like it will be won or lost based on voter turnout.

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At 7:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is the theory that racist, misogynist, regressive, moron voters CAN BE BOUGHT?

At 12:13 PM, Blogger cinemarchaeologist said...

Wasting this much money on a show-election that, in the end, won't mean a thing, regardless of the outcome, is a real obscenity.


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