Monday, January 4, 2010

Republican Candidates: Winning in 2010

Starting today, I'll be sending out mailings (from time to time) directed at candidates, and I'm going to put you on the list as a possible candidate for US Senate from Hawaii.

[Note: Scott Brown's website is at: ]

There is a big problem with the "traditional" topdown way of running for office. Over-reliance on Beltway types, including John Cornyn at the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and Pete Sessions at the Republican Campaign Congressional Committee (RCCC), is a disaster.

The NRSC has invested significant money in two primary campaigns in this decade: the Arlen Specter race against conservative Pat Toomey in 2004 and the Lincoln Chaffee race in 2006. In other words, the NRSC spent significant money in primaries backing the two most liberal Republicans in the Senate. (Chaffee won the primary and lost the general. Arlen Specter? Read on . . . )

This year, John Cornyn endorsed Arlen Specter against Toomey, just before Arlen admitted he was in fact a liberal Democrat. Cornyn also endorsed liberal FL Republican Charlie Crist who, it turns out, has no chance of winning the Florida primary against conservative Marco Rubio.

As for Pete Sessions and RCCC: the biggest investment they've made recently has been the nearly one million dollars spent on backing Dede Scozzafava in the New York 23d congressional race. Of course, Scozzafava, before she endorsed the liberal Democrat Bill Owens (who won in a close race), dropped out because she had little support.

Who in his or her right mind is going to contribute to the NRSC or the RCCC?

If conservative Republican candidates want support from the vast Tea Party movement, they had better prepare to take several of them to DC to work on their congressional or senatorial staffs.

There are in fact ways that a young woman could become a member of the US Senate from Hawaii. It might not happen in a race this year against left-wing Democrat Inouye. It could happen in a future race against left-wing Senator Akaka. (There is a Republican Governor, Linda Lingle, in that state where Republicans supposedly can't win.)

Rhode Island may be the most liberal state in the Union. But it has a conservative Republican Governor. In Joe Biden's liberal Delaware, a Republican candidate for the US Senate (Mike Castle) is running well ahead in the polls.

There are ways to win uphill (even "up mountain") races. One way is to turn the race into a national crusade, as Rubio has done in Florida). Other people who have "nationalized" their races effectively were Barack Obama, Bob McDonnell (in VA), and Chris Christie in NJ.

Many of us are trying to use the same approach with Scott Brown, who's running for the US Senate from Massachusetts and, guess what, it's working. The Scott Brown campaign has reported a tremendous upsurge in online donations and volunteers. I played a role in that . . . and so have many other activists.

I believe all the candidates I'm supporting can win -- and will win if they wage 21st century campaigns. They will not win if they follow the 19th century approach favored by so many Beltway types.

Political superstar Cindy Reidhead in New Mexico said a year ago about political races: "The one who has the best e-mail list . . . wins." What was Cindy talking about? Consider the following comment by David Plouffe, who ran Obama's "digital campaign":

"Our e-mail list [in the Obama Campaign] had reached 13 million people [an average of 27,000 for each congressional district].

"We had essentially created our own television network, only better, because we communicated with no filter to what would amount to about 20 percent of the total number of votes we would need to win.

"And those supporters would share our positive message or response to an attack, whether through orchestrated campaign activity like door-knocking or phone calling or just in conversations they had each day with friends, family, and colleagues."
(p. 364 of Plouffe's The Audacity to Win)

Why did McCain lose? Let me count the ways . . . starting with the vast difference between his e-mail list and Obama's. When Obama had thousands of Bloggers backing him, McCain (literally) had dozens.

If you as a candidate do everything right, including a heavy reliance on digital technology, you will win your election . . . even when your opponent has more money. If you read only one book between now and Election Day, it probably should be Plouffe's.

If you don't have time to read that book, read this analysis of it:

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