RNC blockade on Trump analytics will hurt Iowa Republican candidates

In a departure from past practice, the Republican National Committee no longer shares information about President Donald Trump’s standing in states or Congressional districts with other Republican committees or candidates, ProPublica and the Texas Monthly reported today.

That could become a problem for down-ballot GOP candidates, especially the contenders hoping to flip three Democratic-held Congressional districts in Iowa.

Continue Reading...

Iowan Gentry Collins exits race to head RNC

Longtime Iowa political operative Gentry Collins has ended his bid to become chairman of the Republican National Committee, he told RNC members in a January 2 letter. Collins made the news in November by resigning as RNC political director and sending RNC members a devastating critique of current chairman Michael Steele’s leadership. Dropping out of the race to succeed Steele, Collins wrote that

part of his mission in campaigning for chairman was to shed light on the party’s financial condition, which he said, “has been a game-changer for Chairman Steele’s re-election prospects.” […]

“I entered this race to make sure there was a credible alternative to Michael Steele and have said from day one I will not get in the way of electing new leadership at the RNC,” Collins wrote.

Collins continued: “It is after much consideration and thought that I announce my withdrawal from the race for Chairman of the RNC. I believe that there are several qualified candidates in the race for Chairman, each of whom would do a fine job leading the committee through the 2012 Election cycle.”

I figured Collins was a long-shot to take his former boss’s job for various reasons. It didn’t look good for him to establish a committee to support his bid for RNC chairman while he was still working at the committee. Craig Robinson’s critique of Collins’ “ego,” “vengeful style” and “heavy-handed” tactics may have put off some Republican insiders too.

Various “whip counts” published by Washington-based journalists showed Collins with only three firm commitments from voting RNC members, far behind the front-runner, Wisconsin Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus. (That’s pronounced “ryns pree-buhs.”) Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn had publicly backed Collins, but committeeman Steve Scheffler was an early Priebus endorser. Iowa’s committeewoman Kim Lehman is supporting Priebus too; she and Scheffler backed the main alternative to Steele in 2009.

Four previous leaders of the national GOP have been from Iowa. The most recent was pro-choice moderate Mary Louise Smith in the mid-1970s. Smith is still the only woman to have headed the RNC. Two women have entered the race to replace Steele, but a rule requiring the party chair and co-chair to be different genders puts them at a disadvantage.

Continue Reading...

Republicans still raising money with fake census forms

A month after the House and Senate unanimously approved a bill restricting direct-mail pieces designed to look like census documents, the Republican National Committee is at it again:

An RNC mailer obtained by TPMmuckraker bears the words “Census Document” and, in all caps, “DO NOT DESTROY/OFFICIAL DOCUMENT,” on the outside of the envelope. In smaller letters, it says: “This is not a U.S. government document.” The new law requires, among other things, that such mailers state the name and address of the sender on the outside of the envelope — something the RNC’s missive doesn’t appear to do. Inside, a letter from RNC chair Michael Steele, dated April 12, asks recipients to fill out a questionnaire about their political views, and solicits donations of as much as $500 or more. (See the mailer here.)

Last month, in response to virtually identical RNC mailers, members of both parties cried foul, raising the concern that the mailers could reduce the response rate for the actual Census — which was mailed to Americans last month — by confusing some voters. […] Congress quickly passed a law — the House vote was 416-0 — requiring that mailers marked “census” state the name and address of the sender on the outside of the envelope, and contain an unambiguous disclaimer making clear that the mailer is not affiliated with the government.

Based on a PDF image, the mailer obtained by TPMmuckraker does not appear to state the sender’s name and address on the outside. And the words “DO NOT DESTROY/OFFICIAL DOCUMENT” would appear to make the disclaimer that it’s not a government document less than unambiguous.

The RNC’s fundraising efforts have taken a hit this year, and Chairman Michael Steele is under pressure to turn things around, so I can’t say I’m surprised by this desperate act.

On a related note, census mail-back rates exceeded expectations this year, which will save the U.S. Census Bureau hundreds of millions of dollars. Iowa’s census participation rate is 77 percent so far, tied for third with Indiana and just behind Wisconsin and Minnesota. Many communities in Polk County have participation rates over 80 percent.  

Continue Reading...

High-ranking departures point to "full-scale bloodletting" at RNC

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has been under pressure lately. Since he took over in January 2009, the RNC has spent far more than it has raised, and the latest numbers show the Democratic National Committee ahead of the RNC in cash of hand (which is highly unusual). Major Republican donors have been fleeing the RNC for various reasons, including staffers’ embarrassing fundraising proposals and massive overspending on luxury hotels, limos and nightclubs. Today RNC Chief of Staff Ken McKay resigned, prompting one of Steele’s advisers to leave in what Jonathan Martin described as “a full-scale bloodletting”:

“Leadership requires that I can safely assure you, our donors, and the American people that our mission is what drives every dollar we spend, every phone call we make, every email we send and every event we organize,” Steele wrote in the email [sent to RNC members and donors on Monday], obtained by POLITICO. “Recent events have called that assurance into question and the buck stops with me. That is why I have made this change in my management team and why I am confident about going forward to November with renewed focus and energy.”

McKay didn’t immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

But his apparent firing has roiled the close-knit world of GOP operatives and Monday night longtime Republican strategist and Steele adviser Curt Anderson said his consulting firm would no longer be working with the RNC.

“Ken McKay’s departure is a huge loss for the Republican Party,” Anderson said in a statement to POLITICO. “Ken steered the party through very successful elections last fall that have given us tremendous momentum. He’s a great talent. Given our firm’s commitments to campaigns all over the country we have concluded it is best for us to step away from our advisory role at the RNC. We have high personal regard for the Chairman and always have; we wish him well.”

It’s hard to see how the turmoil at the RNC won’t end with Steele’s departure, although Josh Marshall argued today that Steele

can’t be fired, in significant measure, because he’s black. Because canning Steele now would only drive home the reality that Republicans were trying to paper over, fairly clumsily, when they hired him in the first place. So Republicans are stuck with his myriad goofs and #pressfails and incompetent management and all the rest because of a set of circumstances entirely of their own making.

Hey, don’t blame Iowa’s RNC members; they voted for Katon Dawson over Steele in January 2009. But I must say I doubt a guy who became a Republican because the government desegregated his high school, and more recently belonged to an all-white country club, would have been the right man to rebuild the GOP’s image.

Continue Reading...

Both parties raising big money for governor's races

With 37 governor’s races coming up this November, the Republican Governor’s Association and the Democratic Governor’s Association are pulling in big money. The RGA “raised $9 million in the first quarter of 2010 and has $31 million cash on hand,” CNN reported yesterday. The DGA raised $8 million during the first quarter, setting a new record for the organization, and has $22 million on hand. A DGA press release noted that first-quarter receipts in 2010 exceeded the organization’s fundraising during the first six months of 2006.

The RGA and DGA set fundraising records in 2009, with the Republican organization bringing in $30 million and its Democratic counterpart raising $23 million during the off-year. I expect both groups to spend money in Iowa this year.

I’m pleasantly surprised that the DGA has been able to stay so competitive with the RGA’s fundraising in 2010. The first couple of months of the year were rocky for Democrats, and many major Republican donors have been fleeing the Republican National Committee for various reasons, including RNC staffers’ embarrassing fundraising plans and massive overspending on luxury hotels, limos and nightclubs. I suspect a lot of contributions that would have gone to the RNC in other years are flowing to the RGA.

Yesterday’s press release from the DGA noted:

Since 2006, the DGA has compiled an impressive winning record on targeted races. In the six races where both governors committees have spent at least $500,000, DGA has won four.  […]

The strong first quarter fundraising piggybacks on two consecutive record-breaking years for the DGA and builds on what was already the largest cash-on-hand in organizational history. With $22 million already in the bank, the DGA will spend more on races in 2010 than it spent in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 combined. Grassroots donors are fired up about the GOP’s redistricting takeover plan and they boosted the DGA tothe $8 million mark with a surge of contributions in the final days of the first quarter.

“Even as we’re raising more than ever before, we’re spending that money wisely,” said Nathan Daschle, the DGA’s executive director. “We’ve trimmed our operating expenses significantly so that we can put more resources where it matters – into the races on the ground – and our burn rate is the lowest it’s ever been. We are committed to spending every dollar wisely because the stakes are so high – Republicans are planning to win so many governorships that they can redistrict themselves back to power.”

Some of the key redistricting states with competitive gubernatorial elections include California, Texas, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Iowa will lose a Congressional district after the 2010 census, but our state’s governor has little influence over the redistricting process.

Continue Reading...

GOP should return money raised from deceptive census mailings

Yesterday the House of Representatives unanimously approved HR 4261, the Prevent Deceptive Census Look-Alike Mailings Act. The short bill would ban fundraising letters like those the Republican National Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee sent last month, which gave the appearance of being official census documents. Those mailings were legal because they did not “use the full name of the U.S. Census Bureau or the seal of any government agency.” However, even Republicans have admitted that the tactic crosses a line, and no one in the House GOP caucus wanted to go on record opposing the bill yesterday.

On the other hand, it costs Congressional Republicans nothing to vote for this bill. Their committees are already cashing checks from this year’s deception, and the next census won’t roll around for ten years. If Republicans truly believe it’s wrong to raise money with a fake census letter, they should return all contributions from suckers they’ve duped this year.  

Continue Reading...
View More...