Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Advice for the New Year and some Imaginary Dialogue for the 2015 Candidate

ADVENTURES OF CAMPAIGN GIRL A not totally imaginary dialogue with a candidate I didn’t kill

Working on campaigns sounds glamorous, adventuresome and nail biting.

Well, it can be all of those, but judging from the length of my nails, I’d say number three has the others beat by a mile. They forget to tell you about hair pulling, sleep losing and client murdering.

At least there are plenty of times, you want to murder the client.

Like the thirtieth time she says, “We have to cut back on expenses, like graphic design, or I won’t have any money left at the end of the campaign.”

Hand me the knife. Maybe I could just fall on it myself. Instead, I just smile, and say, “I know how you feel. It’s very frustrating to ask people, especially strangers for money, but if we don’t have enough money, we can’t get your message out. Part of getting your message out is having good graphics. It’s not something we can skimp on.”
This is only the beginning: “But I’m running on a campaign finance reform platform. People won’t respect me if I spend a lot of money on expensive graphics.”

“People won’t know anything about you if you don’t have good graphics. Worse, they’ll think you’re cheap and careless and how much do you think they’ll respect you then?”

“I’d rather spend the money on signs.”

“Signs don’t win elections. The best they can do is remind people to vote.”

“When people hear me talk, they always like what they hear.”

“You can only reach a handful of prospective voters in person. You need to have good mail to reach the voters. You need to reach them again and again. That’s why we need to raise money and spend it on good graphics, plus signs, plus ads, plus publicity for your events.”

“And that’s another thing. I don’t think people want to spend a lot of money coming to a fancy event in a restaurant. If they like me, they’d be just as happy coming to a private home. My friend Signe said we could use her home anytime.”

“And she’ll do the catering?”

“No, you can get volunteers to make things. Maybe we can find local restaurants to donate some food, too.”

And so it goes. Anyone who’s in this business long enough has heard the stories, met the clients.  Why do we stay in it?
Not for the big bucks. You can’t get rich from the local school board race or town council in a town with a population of 7500.

Most campaign consultants I know have other gigs that pay the rent.  They do media for business and non-profits; they teach at the community college or even sell real estate or practice law.

It’s a labor of love. When your candidate scores an upset victory over a much better funded opponent, the high is incomparable.  My guilty secret is the high is better for me than for the candidate; she has to face the prospect of all those meetings, all those constituents with demands.

I get to go on to the next campaign and answer another set of questions from skeptical clients:

“Why should I use a Union printer, instead of my uncle Jack who does the Chamber of Commerce newsletter?

“Do I have to walk precincts? Can’t I just take out an ad in the Shopping News? Why must I call people during their dinner hour; won’t that make them mad?”

And my all-time favorite:

“Why would my opponent say that about me? I thought he was a nice guy. Can I tear his guts out now?”

If you plan a run this year, be prepared for your consultant to gently explain why most of these ideas won’t work if you really want to win your campaign. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Happy Holidays to All!

Here is a Christmas present from the Green Dogs to You all! Now get busy and plan that 2015 local campaign, or 2016 regional/State campaign!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Elizabeth Warren, is she or isn't she?

The question many are asking these days is will Elizabeth Warren run for President or not? A lot of people want her to. There are more than one organizations set up to get her to run, through petition drives, articles in the papers, websites, and more.

Recently she told NPR, I'm not running. When pressed, she said "Do you want me to put an exclamation point on it?"

But they were quick to point out she never said never.

Is her saying "Want me to put an exclamation point on it" like George Bush the First saying "Read my lips; no new taxes?" We remember how that turned out.

For now, all this speculation is leading to a chorus of "Run, Elizabeth, Run!"

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

This woman ran for Congress in Kentucky. She lost, but she has some good words of wisdom every candidate needs to hear. If you're planning to run for City Council or a special district this year, start now. If you're running for Assembly, Senate, Supervisor, and etc. in 2016, also Start Now! Referenced in my Republican friend's excellent campaign site:

For Elisabeth Jensen, running for Congress meant dialing for dollars 30 hours a week

jcheves@herald-leader.comDecember 6, 2014 
Here's what it's like to run for Congress: You sit in a small room for at least 30 hours a week and you stare out the window at a parking lot while calling hundreds of people to ask for money.
When there is a spare afternoon, you can knock on doors to meet voters or deliver a policy speech at a luncheon. But the small room with the phones always impatiently waits.
"If there is one message I would want to get across, it's that it's not glamorous," recounted Elisabeth Jensen, 50, a Democrat who this year unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, to represent Central Kentucky's 6th Congressional District.
"I was surprised when I traveled to Washington and met with the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) and some members of Congress, and the only thing people asked me was, 'How much money can you raise? Where are you gonna get your money?'" Jensen said.
"There were no questions about my positions, no questions about my experience, no questions about why do you want to do this. The only thing was — it was like a script, word for word, everyone I talked to — 'How much money can you raise and how are you gonna do it?'"
Jensen plans to take Barr on again in 2016, despite being outspent $3-to-$1 this time and losing by 20 points. She sat down last week with the Herald-Leader at the office of the academic nonprofit that she co-founded in 2002, The Race For Education, to offer a candid look at life on the so-called "campaign trail."
More than anything, she said, the trail was a chair from which she dialed for dollars.
"Call time starts at 9:30 in the morning," she said. "One person dials and hands me the phone if they get somebody, along with a sheet that has the biography so I know who I'm talking to. I introduce myself, talk about the campaign and make the ask. If they say 'Yes,' then I hand the phone to someone else so they can take down the credit card information. And then the first person hands me another phone with the next call."

Although the DCCC never put much money behind Jensen's candidacy — it focused instead on protecting incumbent Democrats, then lost a dozen House seats overall — it insisted that she send in weekly spreadsheets so it could track how many numbers she dialed. When she put down the phones because her son was ill and briefly had to be hospitalized, "they said, 'Well, you lost eight hours of call time this week, when are you gonna make that time up?'" she recalled.
Money is crucial because it pays for the 30-second television commercials where so many Americans learn about political candidates. Nationally, $1.7 billion went into political TV advertising during this two-year election cycle, according to the Wesleyan Media Project in Middletown, Conn.
Even then, not everyone gets the message. In the weeks before the Nov. 4 election, despite Jensen and Barr having raised $3.4 million between them, she still met people who were unaware of either candidate's existence or the fact that they shortly would be called upon to elect their U.S. representative. Ultimately, 53 percent of the district's 512,845 registered voters didn't cast a ballot in the race.
There's not much you can tell voters in half a minute, Jensen said. A typical ad gave her enough time to speak fewer than 75 words, including the legally required disclaimer: "I'm Elisabeth Jensen, and I approve this message."
"It's disappointing," she said. "The average person doesn't read the newspaper. Very few people are going to sit through a debate. They pay attention to the commercials they see on TV. That's where they get their information. We had a strong case to fire Andy Barr based on what he has been doing for the banks, for the payday lenders, rather than for families. But you can't explain a CLO (collateralized loan obligation) to someone in 30 seconds."
Secluded with donors
Candidates tethered to a call sheet of potential donors spend too little time interacting with people who don't have money, Jensen said.
Only 0.21 percent of the American population — about 666,000 people out of 310 million — gave a political donation of $200 or more during this election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington. Fewer than 25,000 Americans were the sort of big donors who gave $10,000 or more; it's likely they got a lot of calls.
Members of Congress can be just as cloistered with their financial backers. The political parties set up "call centers" near the Capitol where — between committee hearings and floor votes — lawmakers commonly are expected to spend four hours a day chatting up contributors. That doesn't count in-person fundraising events with lobbyists and industry groups that bring in tens of thousands of dollars over steak dinners or rounds of golf.
For example, the cost to attend Barr's 41st birthday party at a Washington bourbon bar in July — a fundraiser — was $500 per person. Another Kentucky congressman, Ed Whitfield, R-Hopkinsville, charged people $1,500 each in August to spend a weekend with him at The Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles. The hotel's poolside cabana was reserved for Whitfield's celebration.
Jensen said she was struck by how politicians can be out of touch with working-class Americans while touring rural Wolfe County with a local Democratic Party power broker.
"He said 'Come back in October and we'll walk all these streets and go up in the hollers and you can introduce yourself. And if people tell you they will vote for you, then they will vote for you. They will not lie to you standing at their door. But if you don't go up and ask them, then they won't vote,'" Jensen said.
"I had my campaign manager there, and he said, 'Well, wouldn't it be much more effective to just do a very targeted direct-mail piece?' And we looked at (the local official), and he said, 'With all due respect, sir, these people can't read.'
"You don't think about that, that there is a big segment of our population that cannot read. So how can we bring any kind of jobs in there? How could they fill out a job application? What are we doing about this? There is a huge disconnect between this population without marketable skills and the kind of jobs available in the 21st century. That needs to be addressed. But you don't see that discussed."
'An ethical issue'

Another flaw in the system, Jensen said: Politicians who constantly have their hand out for money are tempted to offer favors in return, even if it's just a sympathetic ear when a big contributor wants a tax break sponsored or a regulation repealed. There were some deep-pocketed people on her call sheet, Jensen said, whom she decided not to approach because the conversations would have been uncomfortable.
"I knew about what their interests are, and I knew they were different from my own perspective, so ... " Jensen said, her voice trailing off. "It's an ethical issue. We can't be taking that much money from people with a financial interest in what government does and realistically think that it's not going to affect the decision-making process."
Jensen said she likes the idea of public campaign financing, using tax dollars to lessen the influence of wealthy donors and let politicians spend more time among their constituents. Roughly two dozen state and local governments offer public financing for candidates, as does the federal government for presidential contenders.
However, congressional races are not part of that trend. Given Republican control of the incoming 114th Congress, they probably won't be anytime soon. Traditionally, the GOP opposes public campaign financing as "welfare for politicians." And recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions have eliminated several campaign-finance restrictions, allowing a flood of private, and often anonymous, money into electoral politics.
Even Jensen, who was overwhelmed by Barr's fund-raising, acknowledges that she had the advantage of well-off relatives and friends, including many in the region's Thoroughbred horse industry, where she once worked. Realistically, most Kentuckians never could run for Congress, she said.
"I raised close to a million dollars this election cycle," Jensen said. "There's just a handful of Democrats in this state who could raise that kind of money.
"There was a time in this country when only white, land-owning men got to vote, and they controlled who got elected and what got done, what legislation got passed. It kind of feels like even after the civil-rights movement, making sure women can vote, making sure African-Americans can vote, we've come full circle and we're back to elections being decided and legislation being dictated by people who can spend a lot of money."
John Cheves: (859) 231-3266. Twitter: @BGPolitics. Blog:

Friday, December 5, 2014

Happy New Year Now Start Campaigning!

Yes, it's almost New Year's, and the next campaign cycle is upon us, for those of you with 2015 campaigns. Lots of City Councils, school boards and special districts are up this year. Not to mention the various initiatives and local measures.

So if you're up this year, or just thinking about it, call for a free consultation with GreenDog Campaigns today. We craft smart, savvy campaigns. Our motto: You run. We run with you, to win!

Put a GreenDog in your Christmas stocking.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tight races all around

Why were there so many close races this Election Day? I personally had two that were cliffhangers until just a few days ago when the last absentee ballots were counted. Another local race won by  less than half a percent. In Petaluma the Mayor was re-elected with 88 votes and I just heard of another race in a district with more than 400,000 voters, where the victor won by 17 votes! That's almost too small to be measured.

And in Oregon a recount has started for Measure 92, an initiative to label genetically engineered foods. Stay tuned. The fat lady hasn't sung yet!

The simple reason is that so few people actually voted. The ones who did really were committed, and in many cases equally so on each side. But there is probably more. So, more to come.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

We have a Winner!

All the votes are (mostly) counted, although they won't become official until Dec. 2. GreenDog Campaigns did a good job on this off year. It was low key, but there was a tight and hard fought race in Los Gatos for Town Council. We are pleased to say our client Rob Rennie, pulled out a narrow victory. He was a first time candidate, with a great record, serving on the Parks Commission and as a past director of the Loma Prieta Chapter of the Sierra Club. Also a stalwart in Rotary and other service and community orgainiztions.

We congratulate Rob Rennie on his win for Los Gatos Town Council!

Closer to home, we did some minor advising and calls for an upset candidate in the Marin Municipal Water District, Larry Bragman, currently serving on the Fairfax Town Council. Go Larry!

And also in Fairfax, we helped Measure J, a continuation of Measure F, public safety tax we did several years ago. With two calls by the very competent Police Chief, Measure J was a runaway winner.

Another big winner was Team Richmond, the people's choice in Richmond, across the Bay from us in Contra Costa County. Chevron spent huge with big consultant mailings, billboards and TV ads, but the people were not fooled by all the glitz and negative campaigning and the good guys won.  GreenDog presented a training to several of their candidates and volunteers at the beginning of the campaign. Richmond Rocks!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Close Votes - Sweating it out way past Election Day

In California, the Registrars of Voters don't have to report their final vote tallies until December 2. More and more voters are choosing to vote by mail, becoming permanent absentee voters, and more and more of these are not sent in early, but walked into the County Elections office or a polling place on Election Day.

This means, in some close races, we won't know the outcome for weeks. And it seems every County does it differently. In Santa Clara, for instance, where I had a candidate this year, the late absentee ballots were posted as they were counted each day, including on the weekends. My candidate appears to be winning as the vote totals are holding pretty steady day by day, but it is close.

They have, as of this writing, finished all late absentee ballots or vote-by-mail (those tuned in at the polls and so not counted with the others and not available on election night) and are working on provisional ballots. Those are the ones where there is some question about the voter's eligibility to vote, or whether they are voting in the right precinct. For those who vote in the wrong precinct, the Registrar must go through the ballot carefully, so that the votes cast for some races (like State or Countywide ones, for instance) are counted, and those that may have been erroneously cast for local races in a District in which the voter is not eligible to vote, discarded. See how complex this is?

In Marin, they expect to finish the counting of all late absentee ballots by Wednesday of this week, but not release the numbers until Friday. In a close race hanging in the balance, this can be agonizing. Two such races seem to be affected in Marin. There are two of these biting their nails as we speak.

In Sonoma, there don't seem to be any cliff-hangers, but it has been the practice there, not to release any of the counts until the last day.

Clearly some uniformity is needed. Just like I said about the way ballot statements are published in the voters pamphlets, which also vary county by County.

I wrote about that one in this Blog a while back, when the ballot statements came out. Let's see what happens with our new Secretary of State, Alex Padilla.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Breaking news - Some voters buck tide, vote in their own interests

This just in.  It seems that contrary to the Republican/corporate sweep across America, there were a few pockets of crusty holdouts who voted in their own best interests, not the interests of corporations, as so many of their fellow voters did last Tuesday.

Shocking as it is, some voters questioned the conventional and accepted wisdom of the Supreme Court , and said, "heck no corporations are not people, or if they are, I'm a more important person, and my interests come first."

They showed this contrariness by voting in favor of measures for raising the minimum wage in some surprising places like Arkansas for Pete's sake, home of Walmart, a very unhappy corporate person right now. They also passed measures against fracking, not just on the Left Coast, where measures passed in Mendocino and San Benito Counties, but in Ohio and Denton Texas.

But anyone feeling sorry for the corporations should take heart that they are not accepting this insult to their personhood lying down.  "Who are these peons, who probably committed voter fraud in the first place, to tell us we can't claim our God-given right to drill under their land and set their water on fire," asked an indigent spokesperson for the Texas Oil and Gas Association which is already cranking up a lawsuit  to overturn the fracking ban.   
In another unlikely and humiliating rebuff to the corporate authority, which really has their best interests at heart, voters in  Richmond California, home of  Chevron, who is itself a major employer (and polluter, thus also boosting the economy in terms of hospital admissions and sales of hazmat suits) rebuffed the hand picked City Council candidates Chevron spent millions of their hard earned money promoting with cheery billboards and TV ads.
"How could people be so blind as to vote for candidates belonging to something called the Richmond Progressive Alliance, bad branding if I've ever seen it," grumbled a corporate executive from his vacation home in Aruba, shortly after election results were posted online and blasted out by all the major news outlets in the country.

"Next time, we'll hire some guys to dress in baggy pants and hoodies to go out into the hood and talk sense into these people, except now we have to pay them $15 an hour, so we have to think long and hard on that one."

Maybe a lawsuit would be more effective.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Game over - New game on!

It's never too soon to start campaigning for the next cycle, or to start planning anyway. You lost? Take today off, regrop, figure out what went wrong, what went right, and if you think it might work the next time.

Sadly, today the country lost. But we are resilient and will pick up and move forward. We survived Nixon and Bushes. 2016 - here we come!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Millennials might take a lesson from Boomers

So the Millennials will not be voting or even worse, those who bother to vote may be voting Republican.  So says an oped citing a Harvard poll in today's SF Chronicle.  Many of us Boomers didn't vote either, back in the day,we who were too busy making revolution, or smashing the state.  At least we got out and did something, even if it didn't work. Think of the power of all those votes that weren't cast.

Millennials have the power too, if they choose to use it.  If all the 30 and unders got out to vote, and even if they started running for office themselves, they could make a difference. They could drive the discussion, rule the elections, see the change they are now too cynical to believe will ever happen. (Can cynicism explain why the ones who say they will vote Republican outnumber those who will vote Democratic?)

If Boomers had voted in the numbers they had in the sixties, we may have seen a very different government over the last fifty years.  Think of it, then do something about the next fifty.

The future is in your hands.


Friday, October 31, 2014

What should I do in the last weekend?

Candidates always ask me how to spend the last weekend before the election most productively. These tips assume you have done all the right things up to now, mail, website, media, social media, walk, walk walk. Now, go out and give your campaign a boost this last weekend.

1. Keep walking precincts and calling voters. Update your list so you are only going to those homes and phones where unmarked ballots still reside. Can't afford a new walk list? Just go to poll voters. You know they haven't cast their ballot yet, and maybe seeing your smiling face on their doorstep will get them to cast it for you.

2. Robo call. Just one. Very short. Your name, your office. One point. Your telephone number. Thanks.

3. Make sure your GOTV lists are prepared and you have volunteers to hit the polls on Election Day. This means you have either printed out or highlighted on your walk sheets those voters who said they would vote for you. Now you have to make sure they get to the polls and cast that ballot.

4. Last minute email blasts. Ask for help, volunteers, money (if you don't have debts, you haven't been running hard enough; if you have money left over, your in trouble deep!), and invite everyone to watch the returns with you on Tuesday night.

5. Update the website with some excitement. We're on a roll. Down to the wire. Pics of you and your volunteers (and their dogs) handing out literature.

6. Stop by every single public event you can and get rid of every last piece of literature you have.

7.  OK. When those things are done, get your ten friends together and start waving signs. No, this will not make anyone who hasn't thought about the race yet decide to vote for you, but someone on the fence might appreciate the show of enthusiasm.

8. Get some rest. Monday you will be calling undecided poll voters as well as making reminder calls to those poll voters on your list who you identified as voting for you. Tuesday you will going non-stop, as you make sure all your voters get to the polls, if it means dragging them from their dinners at 7 PM, pleading and moaning that you need their vote. Now.

9. Read your horoscope. Interpret liberally.

10. Never. Stop. Campaigning.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Don't Forget to Vote! Drop that Absentee Ballot off or it won't count

I know you know this, but that absentee ballot will do you no good sitting on the coffee table at 8 PM on election day.  Yes, you missed the deadline to mail it in. But, you may still drop it off at your Registrar of Voters office anytime between now and 8 PM on election Day or at any polling place. Who knows you may be the one vote that makes a difference in a key race, when all those last minute ballots are counted, usually about two weeks out.

As a report in Capital Alert noted: "More than one-half of California’s 17.6 million registered voters have requested vote-by-mail ballots for Tuesday’s election. The question now is: Will they use them?"

The answer, my friends, is up to you. Mark your ballot and then take the time to get it in.

Read more here:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

One week before Election Day. Do you know where YOUR voters are?

It's one week before the big day, and you don't know who is voting for you and you is voting for the other guy? Why not? Because you neglected to do some basic campaign steps back in September.

Mistakes candidates make that leave them in limbo in November:

1. Don't go door to door. If you don't go door, to miss key opportunities to meet actual voters, and, more important, to have them meet you (or your surrogate) and hear your message from a flesh and blood human being. What's more, you don't get a sense if your message is working or not.

2. Don't target and go to more doors than you need to. You've heard me talk about targeting frequent voters ad nauseum. when you're walking precincts, trudging up hill and down dale, you'll soon know why. Some people never vote and no matter how much persuasion you give them, they never will. You're wasting valuable time going to those households, missing the key voters who do vote, and will be likely to vote for you if they hear your message, and that's time you'll never make up.

3. You don't keep good records of who you waked to and what they said. Whoops, you forgot to note the voters' responses on your walk lists. Your volunteers gave you back a stack of completed lists with nothing but check marks on them. This won't happen if you either download the right app and keep your records electronically, or do it the old-fashioned way (I still do), and check the boxes on your walk sheets, Yes, No, undecided, not home.

4. Say, "Glad that's over with" and drop your walk sheets into the receycle bin after the last door has been knocked. Wait. Now you go back and call all your Yes voters and remind them, in the nicest way possible to go to the polls Tuesday. Then, on Tuesday, you and your volunteers physically get down to the polls and check who's voted on your lists. Call the ones who haven't and remind them, gently, but urgently, that now is the time. Of course this applies only to poll voters, and any abseentte voters who may have neglected to mail their ballots in. They can drop them off at any polling station until closing time.

Once all this is done (and your mail went out on time, your website got updated frequently, your ads were all printed, your TV spots delivered), then, and only then, can you relax at your victory party, secure in the knowledge, win or lose, you have run the very best campaign you could possible have, and all your votes are accounted for.

Good luck!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

How NOT to Freak out in the Last Days of the Campaign

Guest post from Campaign in a Box. All these pointers are right on, and good to hear to keep sane during these last two weeks of campaign season.

By Jason Chambers

Campaigning Isn't As Intuitive As You Think

Every campaign season - often in October - I get an "aha!" question from a candidate that goes something like this: "I was talking to Dave the other day and he said that if we add QR codes to our mail pieces, everyone will scan them and visit our website. Maybe we should call all of our volunteers and have them put QR codes on our doorbell pieces this weekend?"

Rarely is a last minute deviation from the campaign plan a good idea. Throughout your campaign, you'll begin to better understand how campaigning works, but be careful about some of the less intuitive aspects of a political campaign. Your campaign strategy is developed in April (not October) for a reason - repetition and following a well thought out plan is the key to winning elections.
Here are a few examples of some of the ideas I've run into that you should be wary of:

More Targeted Voters, Not More Voters

Often candidates will get concerned late in the campaign season that the targeted lists we use to knock on doors are ignoring too many important voters, and they'll ask if we can hit every door while we're out.

Let's say you're running in Lexington, Kentucky for Mayor. Lexington has about 308,000 citizens. Of those 308,000 citizens, about 209,000 are registered to vote. In an off year election like 2014, about 42% will turn out to vote. That's around 87,500 voters.

Of those 87,500 voters, approximately 30% vote Republican exclusively. Another 30% vote Democrat exclusively. The remaining 40% leaves about 35,000 voters who can be persuaded to vote for you. That's 11% of the total number of people living in houses in Lexington. So about 1 in every 9 homes you doorbell - assuming you choose to doorbell every home - is worth your time.

Repeat the same message, over and over

Another thing and understandably frustrates candidates is staying on message. By the end of the campaign you've heard yourself say the same thing over and over and over. Your friends and your spouse are telling you they're bored of the same thing, and you probably need to mix it up because the voters are going to get bored of hearing the same thing.

The problem here is that your friends and family are paying close attention to your election. Nobody else is. Between work, church, the kids soccer game, budgeting for next month and the football game this weekend, most voters have 1,000 things on their minds, and elections are low on the priority list. That's why repetition of your message is a must - by election day, if a voter knows one thing about you, you're on the right track. So repeat that one message over and over and over, until it makes you sick. Then repeat it again.

What Your Opponent Puts on Facebook Doesn't Matter

My name has never been on the ballot, so it's hard for me to completely understand how difficult it is to hear negative things about yourself and not want to react. But you have to learn not to react. If your opponent writes "John voted to increase taxes last month" on his Facebook page and it's not true, remember two things:
  1. The people following his Facebook page are already voting for him, so don't worry about whether they think you voted to increase taxes last month.
  2. When you respond, you potentially turn a quiet attack into a public debate - and you don't want to debate whether you raised taxes or not if the attack will quietly go away by ignoring it. Half the voters will believe it, half won't. That's much worse than 95% of the voters not even knowing the attack happened. 
Commenters on News Websites Aren't Objective

It's helpful to get your supporters to comment on relevant stories on the newspapers website, but don't mistake the comments that disparage you as objective. Undecided voters don't jump on websites to blast you. Supporters of your opponent do. So don't freak out that some random voter doesn't like you - he's probably not random. Those comments are nearly always organized by the campaign of your opponent. Feel free to ask a few of your supporters to write positive comments about you, but don't assume that because there are 4 negative comments for every positive comment you're losing the race 4:1. Those comments are not representative of the general electorate.

Your Opponent Probably Isn't An Evil Genius

If you pick up a weekly neighborhood newspaper and see an ad for your opponent in it, don't worry. He doesn't have some mysterious insight about the effectiveness of weekly newspapers. He probably got a sales call from that weekly and got talked into putting an ad in it. You don't have to match him everywhere he's advertising - stick to the campaign plan and advertise where you planned to advertise.

That One Big Idea Probably Isn't A Gamechanger

A couple of years back I was helping out a campaign for Congress and we got so many random ideas from volunteers and donors that we started our own inside joke, "GAMECHANGER!"
It's tempting to adopt every idea you hear from people, and often they'll expect you to and gripe when you don't. But you sit down and write a campaign months before Election Day for a reason - and you need to stick to that plan.

A few years ago, the wife of my candidate's biggest donor ask for a meeting with the campaign a week before Election Day. Because she was married to our biggest donor, we agreed to meet. She had developed an interest in new technology, and had an idea for our campaign. She wanted us to halt the campaign and put QR codes on every piece of campaign literature we had. She was convinced that QR codes would drive thousands of voters to our website and would be the key to victory on Election Day. GAMECHANGER!

But it wasn't a gamechanger, and we thanked her for her suggestion then went back to doorbelling. Most ideas you get from volunteers and supporters aren't worth changing your strategy for. Thank them for their time, and continue doing what you're doing. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Unwanted advice about fundraising and those ubiquitous yard signs

So I went to a campaign function for a candidate I support but whose campaign I don't work on.  A friend from the hood. Who she is and what race she is in are not relevant to this story. A well known local personage was there to help boost her campaign. The personage was to speak, and introduce the candidate. In the back of the room, her campaign manager had just finished boasting to a supporter that this campaign was the "first to have yard signs up," when the short speechifying started.

As soon as the candidate finished her brief remarks, thanking people for coming and reminding them to tell their friends to vote and please take a yard sign, people went back to the refreshments and the very nice complimentary wine.

I was standing next to the campaign manager, an earnest young woman with little experience and, from what I had seen so far in this campaign, no overwhelming sense of the urgency necessary to bring a campaign to victory. ( I got a clue about that the first time the candidate's spouse called me for information the manager should have been supplying.)

"Isn't someone doing a money pitch?" I asked somewhat incredulously. (Campaign101  -  always ask for money.)

"That's not how we do it," she replied. "Everyone one here already donated."

"Yes, that is how we do it" I couldn't help responding possibly a little snarkily

With that, and before I could get to the part about people who've already given being the most likely to give again, she turned her back on me and stomped across the room.

Campaign folk can be touchy, I thought. Besides, she has to get rid of all those yard signs she's squandered the campaign coffers on.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Chevron out to buy Richmond election

This just in from AlterNet. File it under they're up to their old tricks. My campaign firm, GreenDog Campaigns did a training for the Team Richmond (non-Chevron) candidates for Council.

  News & Politics  

Death with Dignity - It's all about Compassion, and Choice

In July of 2006, I sat in a crowded Senate hearing  room waiting for a pivotal vote on the Compassionate Choice law, sponsored by State Senators Patty Berg and Lloyd Levine. The vote was tied when Senator Joe Dun, who had been counted as a supporter started to speak. It soon became clear that his vote was not going to go the way we hoped. When he gave a long disquisition on how his Bishop had counseled him of the potential harm this bill might do, we knew the battle was lost.

When he cast his nay vote, many people started to weep. People whose loved ones had died protracted painful deaths, and were supporting this bill to help out others in similar circumstances avoid the same fate, by offering them a “death with dignity.”

Full disclosure, at the time I was a paid consultant to the group Compassion and Choices  (get it, it’s all about compassion and choices) helping raise money in support of the bill.  Death with dignity or Compassionate Choice, as it was called then, is the right for terminally ill patients suffering intractable pain, in the last months of their lives, with counseling from medical doctors and psychological professionals, to choose to end their suffering by taking a lethal cocktail themselves.

I put my full disclosure right up front, because Debra Saunders, in her 10/14/14 column in the San Francisco Chronicle, saves hers for the very end of the italicized descriptive bit after the main column, oh by the way, my hubby is a paid consultant with the “anti-assisted suicide Patients Rights Council.”*

Saunders wrote her column in response to the very moving story of a young woman named Brittany Maynard who, suffering from a terminal brain tumor, had moved from California to Oregon, where she would be allowed to have a death with dignity. Her story had been told in the Chronicle the day before.

It's no coincidence people who oppose a person’s right to end their life under the circumstances described above, always call it “assisted suicide,” because well, you know, suicide, not a good thing. Surely if you are contemplating suicide, we can help. There are doctors, counselors, pills, lots and lots of pills.

Except for the one pill that might make a difference in the case of the lives of patients, and their families, who are suffering through the scenario above.

Saunders does get one thing right. Insurance companies are not happy with patients who expensive demand life prolonging care, especially if it comes with home caregivers.  No. no money for dying at home where someone has to be paid to do the messy stuff.

Saunders claims that insurance companies and “profit driven managed health care” may be steering patients in the direction of ending their lives.  For this she quotes Marilyn Golden of the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund that “for every individual with a happy family who’s not at risk for abuse, there are many other individuals who may be subtly steered toward assisted suicide by their insurance companies or pressured by their family.”

While no one can doubt that there is abuse of the aged, disabled and dying by family members and others, opponents were able to dredge up only one story that could be considered someone being “steered” by an insurance company to toward offing themselves.  In that case, an insurance company refused to pay for an expensive drug prescribed for a lung cancer patient, instead offering a list of other drugs including, according to an unattributed Oregon media report “the one for physician-assisted death.”    

The true villains here are not laws that allows sick people a choice,  but voracious insurance companies, drug manufacturers, hospitals and some physicians who want to squeeze the last penny out of consumers,  insureds and patients, with high costs, higher co-pays and guilt inducing propaganda that push family members and loved ones to go bankrupt to pay their bills.

In fact, in states where it’s legal, the statistics tell a far different story ignored by Saunders (and presumably her husband whose organization is listed among the conservative non-profits who benefit from and contribute to, at least indirectly, Koch brother money and right wing political causes)*

In Oregon according to the original Chronicle article, “since the law was enacted in 1997, 752 people have used the drugs to die out of the 1,173 who were given prescriptions. The median age for those who took the pills was 71 years old. Most had cancer. Just six people under the age of 34 have taken the drug, a barbiturate called Seconal."   

In fact, the young woman in the Chronicle article herself said she was not sure she'd take the drug, but, as in stories I'd heard from people in that hearing room in 2006, it is being able to have that choice that brings comfort.

Conveniently, Senator Dunn, who cast the deciding vote to kill the bill in California, within months took a lucrative job as executive director of the California Medical Association, which, along with the Catholic Church, was one of the most vocal and big spending organizations opposing the bill. I suppose becoming a priest didn’t appeal to him.

*A little research shows that The Patients Rights Council is the DBA name of an organization called the Family Living Council, in turn funded by the Randolph Foundation, which also donates generously to Americans for Prosperity, the Koch Brothers group and other groups funding right wing causes and politicians. As “tax exempt” organization, it does not have to disclose who it gets money from, but I’m not holding my breath that the insurance companies and major medical corporations (including “profit driven managed health care”) are not somewhere in the mix.