Thursday, April 27, 2006

The GOP Auction House

You may not always be a big booster of the DCCC, but here is an interesting and useful site: The GOP Auction House

CD-8: The Value of Volunteers

In a comment to an earlier post Liza said, “I'm already sick of hearing of about Giffords and her 570K. I can sympathize, Liza, because there are other things we should be talking about, but we are going to be hearing a lot about every candidate’s money before November.

The reason is simple, if unpalatable. Despite our faith (some of it justified) in the power of the grass roots, you can’t win an election on volunteers alone.

A hard core cadre of volunteers is invaluable to any political campaign. By “hard core” I mean a group that can give twenty hours or more to the campaign each week, running the headquarters, coordinating the work of other volunteers, assisting in research, mail targeting, and assisting any professional staff the campaign may have hired.

My judgement is that almost any campaign will be able to attract such a group of true believers, fifteen or twenty perhaps, willing to work themselves virtually to the point of exhaustion for their candidate. A vastly greater number of volunteers will be attracted, of course, but my experience has been that while they may walk a neighborhood, or assist in getting a mailing out, the best of them are not likely to do this more than once or twice.

Consider for just a moment the statistics for CD-8

Active voters:
Democratic: 132,894
Libertarian: 2,560
Republican: 151,794
Other: 99,780
Total: 387,028

Inactive voters:
Democratic: 7,546
Libertarian: 253
Republican: 7,855
Other: 7,417
Total: 23,071

Total voters:
Democratic: 140,440
Libertarian: 2,813
Republican: 159,649
Other: 107,197
Total: 410,099

(Let’s also remember that CD-8 is spread out over parts of four counties. In densely populated urban districts you might get 650,000 people spread across thirty to fifty square blocks, at least in principle within walking distance.)

In November, if we hope to gain control of the House and make the first steps toward election reform, we have to try to influence Democrats, Others, Libertarians, and some disaffected Republicans. We also have to be able to respond to Republican attack ads. None of this is cheap and none of it can be done by volunteers alone walking much needed and useful as that is. Sad, perhaps…but true.

Note: Thanks to research librarian SW for locating this data on the Secretary of State’s site. Link

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Press Releases

The Data Port regularly receives press releases from three of the CD-8 campaigns…Latas, Weiss and Giffords. Generally these releases fall still born from the press, or from the printer, or out of the e-mail in box, or what have you. The daily papers file them in the circular file.

I suppose that if they do anything they encourage each candidate’s enthusiasts, or help to define some talking point for the campaign, but so far as practical political action is concerned they are
probably worthless.

The general expression of shock and dismay over some perfectly obvious disease of the body politic, and the call for ‘immediate action’ by Congress, is hokum. We aren’t told something we don’t know and no action, immediate or otherwise, is likely to result.

A clever exception to press release tedium came out of the Weiss Campaign recently. It was a press release in which Weiss took on one of the potential Republican candidates, pointing out how the candidate had “flip-flopped.” I thought this was really clever. It gave us some information that we might not have otherwise had and it positioned Weiss as assuming her own victory and already on the campaign trail against a possible opponent.

It got my attention. It’s a good strategy. As long as you are going to float press releases you might just as well take the opportunity to flog some CD-8 Republican.

(In the process of switching e-mail programs I stupidly lost this press release. Perhaps someone will post it as a comment.)

Purely Personal

The Borderlands Theatre production of “Conjunto” opened last night. You can read all about the production here. Getting ready for the opening turned my normal schedule on its head, keeping me up later at night than usual and generally playing hob with my sleep schedule and my blogging routine.

Happily the pot has been kept bubbling in the comments threads.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

CD-8 Comments

Old Anonymous posts the following :

Why would a bunch of Latas progressives want to support Gabby?

To which it seems to me we might well reply with the following questions:
Why should we throw good money after bad by supporting a progressive candidate with no demonstrated ability to raise enough money to win the district?

Why should we support an ex TV reporter whose main claim to electoral victory is that we all remember who she used to be?

Get a grip, Anonymous. The whole point of the CD-8 election is not just to control CD-8, which of course would be nice, but to try to regain control of Congress. Each Democratic victory in the 15 crucial races brings us closer to that goal.

That's why all CD-8 Democrats should come out growling and snapping in support of whoever wins the primary, even if it's just a Yellow Dog.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Happy Anniversary

More than a year ago I opened my wallet to buy something, I don’t remember what, and took out a dollar bill. I have no idea how I came by this particular dollar bill but I have saved it for its message.

On the top margin of the back of the bill was written: “Our Wedding Day, April 17, 2004.” On the bottom margin, bracketed by two neatly draw little hearts, was the message “Always and Forever.”

Whoever you are, I wish you well on your Anniversary.

The President Outsourced

G'Day, All

Hope you all had a a pleasnt and politics-free weekend celebrating the Easter, Passover, and Rites of Spring season. The following was dropped into my e-mail box by a good Republican friend. (You have a Republican friend? Yes, Virginia.)

Neither he nor I know who gets credit for it. If we did I'd post a proper link. Any way....

Congress today announced that the office of President of the United States of America will be outsourced to India as of April 15th, 2006.

The move is being made to save the President's $400,000 yearly salary and also a record $521 billion in deficit expenditures and related overhead the office has incurred during the last 5 years.

"We believe this is a wise move financially. The cost savings should be significant," stated Congressman Thomas Reynolds (R-WA). Reynolds, with the aid of the Government Accounting Office, has studied outsourcing of American jobs extensively. "We cannot expect to remain competitive on the world stage with the current level of cash outlay," Reynolds noted.

Mr. Bush was informed by email this morning of his termination. Preparations for the job move have been underway for sometime.

Gurvinder Singh of Indus Teleservices, Mumbai, India, will be assuming the office of President as of April 15th, 2006. Mr. Singh was born in the United States while his Indian parents were vacationing at Niagara Falls, thus making him eligible for the position. He will receive a salary of US $320 a month but with no health coverage or other benefits.

It is believed that Mr. Singh will be able to handle his job responsibilities without a support staff. Due to the time difference between the US and India, he will be working primarily at night, when few offices of the US Government will be open. "Working nights will allow me to keep my day job at the American Express call center," stated Mr. Singh in an exclusive interview. "I am excited about this position. I always hoped I would be president someday."

A Congressional spokesperson noted that while Mr. Singh may not be fully aware of all the issues involved in the office of President, this should not be a problem, because Bush was not familiar with the issues either.

From The Comment Stream
A pair of coments (last post) raise questions about the Latas Campaign's FEC filing, asking where it is and wondering about the value of "pro bono" contributions. The "pro bono" question is an interesting one, but let's take a "wait and see" attitude before putting too much political weight on it. It might be that the FEC is asking for some clarifications or amendments of the campaign's report.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Arizona CD 8: Weiss Reports Fundraising

In a press release sent to The Data Port the Weiss Campaign today reported its first quarter fund raising:

(Tucson, Arizona) Democratic Congressional candidate Patty Weiss today filed her campaign financial report with the Federal Elections Commission that demonstrates great momentum as she ends the first quarter of 2006.

The report showed that the Weiss campaign had total receipts of $183,450. It received contributions from 484 individuals and one political action committee, the United Transportation Union. Fully 93% of contributions are from Arizonans.

Az CD 8- From The Comment Stream

I have brought up the following comments on the CD 8 race from the end of a long series of comments as worthy of note:

Have you noticed that she (Giffords) has what NO ONE ELSE in the race has - a progressive voting record?

Consider that she won an award for being the main sponsor of the mental health parity bill in 2004 - this was a goal of the late, great Senator Paul Wellstone.

She has voted to expand access to health care for kids and the working poor.

She had a 100% voting record from the League of Conservation Voters - a pro-environmental group.

She got a bill passed to get developers to put gray-water systems into new houses, allowing those houses to REUSE water.

She worked with neighborhood activists in Tucson to take on the billboard industry.

These are just a few of the things she's done in her FIVE YEARS in the State Legislature. And she did this before the other candidates even got involved in politics.

Isn't this the stuff we're all fighting for?

Posted by Deaniac to The Data Port at 4/12/2006 07:42:26 PM

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Arizona CD 8 Campaign News: Giffords/Latas

The Data Port received the following press release from the Giffords Campaign

TUCSON – Labor organizations which represent Arizona's First Responders have endorsed the candidacy of former state Sen. Gabrielle Giffords for the U.S. Congress.

Giffords, a Democrat running in Arizona's 8th Congressional District, has won backing from the following unions:

* The Arizona Conference of Police and Sheriffs (AZCOPS), Local 7077, a coalition of eighty-two law enforcement associations with over 6,000 members. AZCOPS is also part of the Communications Workers of America/National Coalition of Public Safety Officers, and includes the following organizations:
o Benson Police Officers Association
o Douglas Police Officers Association
o Marana Police Officers Association
o Oro Valley Police Officers Association
o Pascua Yaqui Police Association
o Sahuarita Police Officers Association
o Sierra Vista Police Officers Association
o Tucson Police Officers Association
o Tucson Police Commanders Association
o Cochise County Law Enforcement Association
o Cochise County Probation Association
o Pima County Attorney Criminal Investigators Association
o Pima County Association Corrections Professionals
o Pima County Deputy Sheriff's Association
o Pima Juvenile Corrections Association
o Pima County Probation Officers Association
o Santa Cruz County Deputies Association
* The Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona
* Tucson Fire Fighters Association, Local 479
* The Associated Highway Patrolmen of Arizona

These groups have joined a growing coalition of unions, professional groups and community leaders who support Giffords for Congress, in addition to the over 1,500 individuals who have donated their personal time and money to the campaign.

"We know that Sen. Giffords is committed to public safety, because she supported us in our mission when she was in the Arizona Senate," said Jim Parks, AZCOPS President. "She has proven herself to be a great ally in state government and we know that when she gets to Washington, DC, she will continue to be an effective advocate for public safety."

Latas Announces Media buys.

Jeff Latas announced today on his blog that he has 3 commercials, produced “pro bono,” ‘in the can.’ He reports he is scheduling buys tonight. (April 12, 2006)

You can see the ads and vote for a favorite here.
The Latas Blog is here.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Arizona CD-8: Giffords Report

The Giffords campaign today reported the following:

*Over 1,730 separate contributions have been made to Giffords For Congress, 444 of those were made before December 31.

*$562,830 has been contributed as of March 31.

*$314,893 of that between January 1 and March 31.

*Arizona residents have made 1,586 contributions, including
1,191 since December 31. 1048 of those contributions were from Southern Arizona.

What this means I leave up to you…we report, you decide.

(If other campaigns will send me their reports, I'll be happy to publish)

Monday, April 10, 2006

Campaign Web Sites

I’ve mentioned this before: Ten years ago a small group of political junkies organized a political web project called “Election ’96.” It was sponsored by Bob Cauthorn, then the head of StarNet.

The idea was to provide a spot where local candidates could debate with one another, answer questions put to them by their future constituents, publish their platforms and programs, and raise money. This small group of political naives included a couple of Democrats, a pair of Republicans, a Libertarian and two computer wizards with anarchic tendencies.

We helped any candidate of any party who wanted to come and participate.

We had this great idea that the site would open up the political process. We thought the pols would love it. Not only were we ahead of the curve, there wasn’t even a curve. Basically we gave a party and no one came.

The idea that the pols might actually have to interface with the voters was fairly scary.

Now ten years later everyone has a campaign web site, but they are essentially one-way sites. They tell you how happy the candidate would be to hear from you, and it is simplicity itself to donate money, but there is no place to publicly ask a question and read a candidate’s reply. There is no forum in which the candidates debate, or simply discuss the issues of the day with one another.

Dean is still the only candidate who really mastered the use of the web. The long open threads were a place where supporters could be heard and criticisms of the campaign voiced.

If Latas, Giffords, and Weiss opened up their web pages, and publicly responded to complaints, criticisms, and objections by their fellow candidates and their constituents it would radically democratize the process of running or office. It would also significantly reduce the cost of running for office.

But don't hold your breath.

Press Releases

The Giffords campaign announces a volunteer “thank you” and ice cream social tomorrow at the campaign headquarters. Time: Noon to One. If Ice cream doesn’t get the press to cover, what will? Probably the announcement of 1st Quarter fund raising results.

On April 6th the Weiss campaign issued a press release expressing Weiss’s shock at the Bush leak of “highly classified intelligence" and supporting the Conyers resolution for a bipartisan Congressional investigation.Like most press releases it fell still-born from the press, or did I miss a story? She should have tried ice cream.

At least Weiss and Giffords send press releases to bloggers.

The Data Port is apparently not on the Latas Campaign press release list, but judging from its web site it’s doing a fine job of getting in the papers.

Big Brother is watching us.(Watch him back.) Three days a ago the NRCC (The National Republican Congressional Committee) fired off a press release reporting that it was shocked…shocked…that Weiss, Giffords and Latas hadn’t immediately reported on how they would have voted on ten crucial issues:

Death Tax Repeal (RCV#102) 4/13/05
Flag Burning Prohibition (RCV#296) 6/22/05
Medical Liability (RCV#449) 7/28/05
Lawsuit Abuse Reduction (RCV#553) 10/27/05
Tax Relief Extension (RCV#621) 12/08/05
Victory in Iraq Resolution (RCV#648) 12/16/05
Defense Appropriations (RCV#665) 12/19/05
Real ID Act (RCV#31) 2/10/05
Patriot Act (RCV#627) 12/14/05
Border Security (RCV#661) 12/16/05

The NRCC is already fighting the November election. Incidentally, I don’t think the press release got any press. Maybe they should have offered ice cream?

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Good Old Days...Not

The voice of the modem is heard again in our land. Sometime around four o’clock yesterday afternoon Qwest DSL went south for folks in my service area. I have made a number of calls, asking in a whining voice when service was going to be restored.

My answers have been varied, and presented in an equally varied number of accents. More or less the answers all amounted to, “We’re working on it.”

Desperate to check my e-mail I resurrected my Juno software and dialed up. Ah, how soon we forget! It seemed I’d have time to bake bread in the time the modern web site, layered with pop-ups, finished loading.

Part of my problem was that Juno was loading an update to its program in the background and doing it all with glacial determination. Once I was up and running I tried to download mail, only to find that my ISP’s mail server had apparently gone south too.

I just tried to get my mail…and still couldn’t do it. Now let’s see if I can post this.


Thursday, April 06, 2006

Notes and Comment

I was reminded today that where motorcycles are concerned sometimes older is better. I’ve owned and ridden maybe twenty-five different bikes, hacks, and scooters in forty-five years riding. I’ve enjoyed ‘em all, but my favorite solo ride is “Coda,” my 16-year-old BMW K75.
…..more about this at The Data Port/Motorcycles

I’ve been reading over the comment strings to the political posts here on The Data Port. My, but we’re all having fun! How much good we do our favorite candidates when our incisive and devastating defenses are, say, 17th in a list of 20 or more I’m not sure.

There’s funny stuff, though. I was particularly tickled by the guy who attacked his opponent by accusing him of sentence fragments. Or some such thing.

In order to post a comment readers have to register. They can use a nom de blog, and some one or more have tumbled to the fact that they can register as “anonymouse” hence reducing the chance that they will ever get credit for their wisdom. I think that’s pretty cute so I haven’t waspishly deleted their posts.

I do not understand why more of you don’t start your own blogs, which isn’t any more difficult than registering to comment. Regular, thoughtful commentary about what must be done and who must be elected to do it might really do your favorite candidate some good. Oh,… regular…thoughtful…could that be it?

Out Of The Frying Pan Dept. Even before “The Dead” closed I jumped into a completely different fire, a show for Borderlands Theater. I’m struggling to learn my handful of lines in time for dress rehearsal, which is why the keyboard here at The Data Point has cooled off .

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Dash For Cash

March 31st was a great testing date. Campaigns on both sides of the political aisle made a major push to swell the record of campaign donations before the end of the first quarter.

There are three reasons for this. The first is that the way the political game is played in the United States requires very substantial war chests. This may be a shame, you may favor federal (and limited) funding for major campaigns, and you may decry this as “not cricket.” I would agree you’re right, but then we’re not playing cricket. Our political process is a game as money-drenched as baseball.

If you have any hope of changing the game you must first get elected playing the game that’s being played. Unjust? You bet, but there’s no point in kicking at the net.

The second reason for those war chests is that running at the national level is a very different sort of game from running for alderman, or even mayor. As constituencies get larger even solid grass roots campaigns become increasingly stressed, and the need for well-developed (and costly) field operations teams even greater. When former Tucson mayor Tom Volgy ran for Congress he honorably respected a pledge not to accept more than a fixed sum in campaign contributions. He came closer to victory than any former or subsequent challenger. What if he had accepted the additional funds on behalf of “one last push?” We’ll never know.

The third reason, and the one that is most anguishing to many grass roots campaigns, is that the Democratic and Republican national political organizations view the money-raising results as an indicator of “viability.” The breadth and strength of a particular campaign is measured by the number of donors on one hand and the amount of money raised on the other.

There seems to be no difference between the parties on this dash for the cash and all the political junkies anxiously await the FEC report.

Short personal note: The Rogue Theatre production of “The Dead ‘ closed last night. Many of the members of the cast had been working together for more than nine months. Parting was not a particularly sweet sorrow and there was more than one glistening eye in the green room.