Friday, September 15, 2006

How much does "electability" cost

Democrats, I promise to get to you momentarily :)

There is an interesting article in "The Hill" concerning the narrowing of competative races. Good article, but it carried an important piece of information that I will get to in a second.

Remember the "electability" swipe that Kolbe took at Graf before the election even got underway and the unnamed polls that he cited saying that the district would not vote for Graf? Given his behavior since Graf's nomination I believe it is safe to say that this had a lot to do with Kolbe's personal dislike of Graf rather than his concern for the district or the Republican party. If not for Graf, Kolbe would probably be looking forward to his next term. Again, door, behind, on the way out.

But more puzzling is the NRCC involvement. Why this race, and why only this race? There are certainly more candidates for election that are far more "extreme" than Graf and there was no involvement in those primaries. I then looked at the Senate race where the NRSC became involved and noticed something. If the party comes after you, they play to win. In the Chafee-Laffey primary, the GOTV effort was utilized to it's fullest to marginalize Laffey as well as negative advertising. The GOP effort increased primary turnout by almost 1000% over similar RI primaries in the past. That is some serious "gunning."

As far as I could tell, the RNCC effort in this race was a single television commercial run incessantly, but not the usual Huffman slime shot. It certainly was effective looking at the results, but it almost seems that if the party had tried harder like they did with Chafee they might have turned the election.

When the NRCC stepped in, Huffman was seriously short of money, and his donors were tapped out. The Click machine is deep, but not wide. There is a limit that can be donated from the group based on law, and I believe that the core group was at the limit for the reporting period. Huffman and Click needed cash fast.

In steps the NRCC with a cash infusion of at least $200,000. Notice however, that no extra voter targeting was done, nor was the advertising negative. There appear to have been rules attached to the money. Of course the ads were produced by the NRCC because they had probably seen his earlier attempts.

So where is the quid-pro-quo? Obviously there had to be some sort of payback to the NRCC besides their love of Click and Huffman. The NRCC took a lot of heat and further placed CD-8 in jeopardy because of their actions.

Refer back to the article I linked:

Reynolds also showed members of the conference yesterday that individual Republican candidates had closed their gap on the competition by erasing a $7.2 million deficit in total receipts at the end of June to boast a $200,000 edge by the end of July.

To further boost those efforts, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who has been charged with running the so-called Battleground Program, accepted $2.2 million in donations yesterday, bringing the total to $13.2 million, a Cantor aide said yesterday.

That windfall is due in part to a surprising $602,500 donation by Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) that raised the eyebrows of members and staff present.

"“I think we are at a critical juncture," Shadegg said yesterday.

"This could be … the most important election in my lifetime” from a national security standpoint," Shadegg said. "“I think [withdrawing U.S. troops] would embolden Iran, embolden radical Islam, embolden even North Korea."”

The outspoken conservative, who ran unsuccessfully for majority leader earlier this year, has never been a major donor to the party, but he told the Speaker that intends to give more money to the party this cycle.

Shadegg said much of the money was from large donors who wrote checks directly to the NRCC on his behalf.

Now obviously Click couldn't just write a check to the RNCC to cover the difference plus interest, as that would raise a tremendous amount of red flags and questions. He would have to find another way to get them the money.

Does anyone else know any doners from the area that could funnel $600,000 or more in Shadegg's name to the NRCC?

It would certainly be interesting if Shadegg could better clarify the source of this money.


Anonymous said...

Framer you are usually correct so I am surprised that you did not know that the NRCC is not responsible for targeting Laffey in RI. It was the National Republican Senatorial Committee (read Elizabeth Dole, et. all.) Now they may all have lunch together (I don't know) but technically the NRCC and NRSC are distinct organizations.

Don't mean to be snotty but wanted to correct the issue before it spread.

Framer said...

Sorry I didn't clarify. I know that they are separate organizations, however, they share resources and I am pretty sure that they do not make decisions completely independent of one another.

Had the NRCC had a systematic objection to Graf, the GOTV would have been implemented from the beginning. The Laffey thing had been planned for quite some time by the NRSC. The NRCC support of Huffman seemed very last minute by comparison. The fact that Graf had a very sizable lead was known by internal polling for months.

That is the comparison I was trying to make. In one case there was an all-out effort to stop Laffey by the NRSC. In the other, it appears to be a loan of $200,000 to $300,000 with definate strings attached.

Of course, if Shadegg could clarify that the money came from another source not related to Jim Click, I would happily admit error.

Framer said...


I did change the word "party" to "NRSC" in the original post to help clarify.

Anonymous said...

While this is clearly a way for big donors to sidestep campaign finance limits, it's less likely that it was designed to benefit Huffman than to shore up Shadegg's chance of getting back into party leadership in the next Congress.