Tag Archives: Kansas

Koch Industries almost got a progressive Democrat as their Congressman.

* Since corporations are people, I think my headline is fair.

The difference was just about 6,000 votes. There were a lot of nay-sayers, including on this site. Several people assumed the GOP was playing mind-games or fifth-dimensional chess by diverting resources to this race.

The closeness of this race should be a reminder that progressive Democrats do have a chance to win, even in the reddest of districts.

We have a chance to win districts that are 84% white.

We have a chance to win districts that are home to Koch industries.

We have a chance to win districts where the Republican won by 30% in the previous election.

What it takes is a candidate who is willing to do the work and has a message that resonates with working people.

As volunteers, we should flock to such a candidate to help campaign and GotV.

For everyone who says Democrats don’t vote in off-years, this district puts you to shame.

YEAR R VOTES D VOTES R DROP D DROP
2004 173,171 81,388
2006 113,676 60,297 -34% -26%
2008 177,617 90,706
2010 119,575 74,143 -33% -18%
2012 161,094 81,770
2014* 138,757 69,396 -14% -15%
2016 166,998 81,495
2017 60,945 51,467 -64% -36%

*No libertarian candidate ran in 2014.

Off-year voter turnout for Democrats is better than it is for Republicans. The one outlier (2014) isn’t perfectly comparable because no Libertarian ran.

So let’s not say Democrats don’t turn up to vote in off-cycles. Democrats showed up to vote, we beat GOP turnout by 28%.

There will be a lot of discussion about this race. Was it a sensible allocation of resources to send $8 million and boatloads of attention to Jon Ossoff in GA-6 while sending no money and no attention to James Thompson? Would national Democrats have responded differently if Dennis McKinney had won the primary (i.e. was it about the candidate rather than the race)?

If everyone is afraid of “nationalizing” races and attack ads the GOP might run featuring Pelosi/Schumer etc, shouldn’t we all just go hide under a rock till the GOP promises never to run attack ads? Did the “stealth strategy” achieve its purpose? No, the NRCC eventually did run ads tying Thompson to Pelosi, Cruz visited and Trump robocalled. Shouldn’t the DCCC follow the NRCC’s lead and compete everywhere? Or should they keep all their powder dry for GA-6? It’s the only race they’re asking people to volunteer for.

Whatever you think about those questions, today’s result should lead you to one conclusion. We can win. We can win in Kansas, we can win in Montana, we can win in Georgia, we can win in South Carolina. We need to put in the work, and do it everywhere.

There is not a liberal America and a conservative Americathere is the United States of America”. — Barack Obama

Next stop, Montana. Let’s work on election Rob Quist to Congress. Donate to his campaign here. Rob is well known across Montana, and is endorsed by Our Revolution which will GotV for him. He has momentum. Please help by volunteering. You can text, phonebank, or donate.

* GA-6 will likely end up in a run-off on June 20.

— Cross-posted at DailyKos.com | @subirgrewal

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda. Did national Democrats do enough to support Thompson’s run?

James Thompson lost last night. I want to discuss why national Democrats (DCCC, DNC, Senators, etc) were conspicuously absent from the KS-4 race. I think these are worth discussing, since the same questions will come up in the other races. Particularly MT-AL, where Rob Quist is running.

No Democratic celebrity donors were asked to pump cash into the Kansas race for TV ads or other campaigning. The campaign decided not to fund a poll because they were prioritizing other spending. This is a sharp contrast to GA-6, where major donors have pumped in over $8 million in cash. High profile politicians have been talking that race up for weeks.

More below the break.

Was KS-4 too red? Would it have been a waste of resources?

This is the most popular explanation for why the campaign received no help from the national party.

Here’s a look at the five special elections we have coming up. CA-34 isn’t that relevant since two Democrats made it into the run-off, pretty much what has happened in the last two cycles there.

Here’s a table with the Democrat’s margin in house races going back 12 years. -20% means the Democrat lost by 20 points. Positive values mean the Democrat won. We’ve lost both KS-4 and GA-6 for a dozen years. Keep in mind districts were redrawn for 2012 after the 2010 census.

YEAR KS-4 GA-6 PA-10 SC-5 MT-AL
2017 -6.8% Apr 18, Jun 20 TBD Jun 20 May 25
2016 -31% -23% -40% -21% -16%
2014 -33% -22% -38% -31% -15%
2012 -33% -29% -31% -11% -11%
2010 -22% -99% -10% -10% -27%
2008 -31% -37% 7% 25% -32%
2006 -30% -45% 6% 14% -20%
2004 -35% -100% -86% 26% -32%

Cells in bold are elections where the incumbent lost, or where no incumbent was running.

KS-4 is a red district, reddest of the bunch. But it’s not that much redder than GA-6.

And there was reason to hope, Estes was in Sam Brownback’s cabinet, and governor Brownback’s approval ratings were at 23%. Estes also ran a lackluster campaign. Thompson is a veteran and ran a campaign that fit his district (yes, he did have a campaign ad with him shooting a rifle at an outdoor target range).

Is a seat in the US House of Representatives worth enough that we’ll spend to turn out another 6,000 voters? We know the voters are there. 81,495 people voted for the Democratic candidate in the November election for the House seat. 55,310 turned up to vote in yesterday. If the DCCC had funded a poll, or helped with some outreach earlier (they eventually made 25,000 live calls a day before the election), could we have turned out 6,000 more voters?  We’ll never really know.

Was it best to be in “stealth mode” in KS-4?

A lot of people said it didn’t make sense to “ nationalize” the election. The funny thing is, the Republicans weren’t scared to “nationalize” it. They sent in Ted Cruz, they made ad buys, they had Pence and Trump record robocalls. Volunteers (including me) doing GotV days prior to the election, would still run across Democrats who didn’t know there was an election on April 11. Would Democrats “nationalizing” the race have brought out a few more of them?

Anybody looking at this race should have known abortion related ads would be run against James Thompson (who is pro-choice). The NRCC ran ads claiming Thompson supported late-term abortions and abortions for gender selection. This is the district where George Tiller was assassinated. A new local blog actually wrote a piece about Thompson with this note:

Then too, for all those years that George Tiller was running the most prolific late term abortion mill in the western world right in Thompson’s backyard, one is hard pressed to recall a single Democrat anywhere registering an objection, let alone Paul [sic] Thompson.

Let’s just say a pro-choice stance is courageous.

Did the DCCC ignore Thompson because he’s a Bernie-crat?

Thompson, a civil rights attorney, said he was inspired by Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign last year and decided to run for Congress. A group that formed following Sanders candidacy, Our Revolution, supported Thompson during the campaign through social media and recruited volunteers to make phone calls on his behalf.  — NPR

For the record, I was one of those volunteers. I usually text, and I had over a thousand contacts for Thompson.

Thompson had beaten Dennis McKinney, who was the former minority leader in the Kansas House of Representatives. McKinney is anti-abortion, voted yes on the Kansas measure to define a fetus as a person, and was previously endorsed by Kansans for Life.

Many volunteers are left wondering whether the DCCC and national Democrats would have been in “stealth mode” if McKinney had won the primary. Check out the responses to this Chuck Schumer tweet.

I feel sorry for Chuck’s social media person.

Did independent progressive groups provide enough support?

There’s a messy argument on Twitter right now:

To which Our Revolution responded:

The fact is that DKos came very late to the Thompson party, about a week before the election. Why wasn’t the candidate “endorsed” well before-hand? The endorsement came only after news that national Republicans would be advertising for Estes while the Kansas Democratic party didn’t have $20k to spare for the candidate. There are a variety of reasons that is a variety of reasons. The fundraising campaign DKos ran split the donation between Thompson’s campaign and Daily Kos. There was a technical glitch with this that prevented some people from donating for hours.

What can we learn?

This entire saga raises a couple of questions.

  1. Does winning an open Democratic primary mean something?
  2. If it does, shouldn’t they commit a certain level of support for any candidate running on the party’s House/Senate ticket?
  3. If the impression among grassroots volunteers is that the party establishment picks favorites among Democratic candidates, what do we think the end result is going to be? Disillusionment or further engagement?

Dave Weigel has a piece up at WaPo:  Four big lessons from Kansas’s special election

  1. The GOP machine is battered but efficient
  2. Democrats can’t get cute about campaign spending. People notice.
  3. In rural America, Democrats still have a brand problem
  4. Social issues still matter

It’s worth a read.

What do we do now?

This is all very interesting, but for me, there’s really only one question. What are we going to do for Rob Quist in Montana? He’s pro-choice, supports public schools, renewable energy and Native American rights (Montana has a large population). He’s a progressive Democrat endorsed by Our Revolution. How can we help him?

I know I’ll be volunteering for his campaign. I “adopted” Montana several cycles ago and have contributed to and volunteered for campaigns there since 2004. It’s more interesting than the sometimes somnolent NY politics. Those of you who live in “safe” districts/states may want to consider doing the same. I’ve been talking to voters in Montana for a dozen years. It is a great experience.

I would encourage to give time and if possible, donate to Rob Quist’s campaign.

— Cross-posted to DailyKos | @subirgrewal

Kansas Democratic Party didn’t have $20k to help a House special election 5 days away. Why?

James Thompson is running for a US House of Representatives seat in Kansas’ 4th district. The election is in five days. It looks like he might actually have a chance to turn this deep-red district. That’s partly because the Republican opponent seems inept and also because Democrats are very engaged. In a special election where turn-out and engagement will make the difference this is a real possibility. Cook report moved it to likely Republican today (from safe). The candidate is on DKos, and he has a real chance to win this seat, he’s a veteran and a civil rights lawyer.

If you haven’t already, please contribute at ActBlue or visit the campaign websiteto volunteer and share their materials on social media. If you’re in Kansas, volunteer to GoTV.

PS. The candidate is endorsed by Our Revolution and, as of today by Daily Kos. Volunteers (including yours truly) are urging Our Revolution to crank up its GoTV phone/text machine for James Thompson. That is likely going to happen.

The campaign has had to scramble for cash, partly because no one thought they could win. So unlike the much closer race for Georgia’s 6th district, where John Ossoff has raised over $8 million, Thompson has only manage to raise $300k or so. But suddenly, the race seems in contention, with 5 days to go. Something must have scared the GOP because they pumped money into ads in this district that Trump carried by 27 points.

Thompson’s campaign asked the Kansas Democratic Party to chip in with $20K for a mailer to counter the Republican efforts. The state party couldn’t do it because they are strapped for cash.

“I don’t think it’s atypical for campaigns to ask parties to chip in. We asked the party to pay for a $20,000 mail project that would essentially be an early voter outreach,” Curtis [Thompson’s campaign chief] said.

Curtis referenced the party’s latest filing with the Federal Election Commission, which showed the party had $274,111 cash on hand at the end of February.

That figure appears to be in error, however.

A Feb. 20 letter from the FEC to the party says the filing lists a $143,000 transfer from “Hillary Victory Fund.” But the FEC letter says a review shows only $14,300 was disbursed.

That would mean the party’s actual cash on hand was closer to $145,000.

Kansas’ Democratic Party has limited resources, and there are a lot of other races they want to support this year. We have to trust their judgement on this call.

But, there’s still the question of what happened to that $143,000? And why can’t Democrats commit resources to a House race that they might be able to win?

See below the fold for more.

The Hillary Victory fund was a Joint Fundraising Committee between the Hillary campaign, the DNC and all state parties. It allowed the fund to collect a single check from a wealthy donor of up to $350k. This is far in excess of campaign finance limits for the candidate, but it was based on the idea that this massive contribution would be distributed between all the joint fund-raisers (the DNC, state parties, etc).

Back in May last year, Politico broke a story that only 1% of the money raised by the fund was making its way to state parties. In fact, the fund was sending money to state parties (likely to meet FEC requirements) but the DNC was turning around and asking for up to 90% of it back the same day. We had a diary about it at the time. It is possible that is what happened here.

The end result state parties can’t fund small requests in an important congressional race. The real shame is that the money was raised by telling donors it would be used to rebuild state parties:

In the days before Hillary Clinton launched an unprecedented big-money fundraising vehicle with state parties last summer, she vowed “to rebuild our party from the ground up,” proclaiming “when our state parties are strong, we win. That’s what will happen.”

But less than 1 percent of the $61 million raised by that effort has stayed in the state parties’ coffers, according to a POLITICO analysis of the latest Federal Election Commission filings. — Politico

Donors believed what they were told about rebuilding the state parties:

After POLITICO revealed that the victory fund was asking for couples to donate or raise a whopping $353,400 in order to sit at a table with Clinton, Clooney and his wife, attorney Amal Clooney, at a fundraiser last month in San Francisco, Clooney admitted that was “an obscene amount of money.” But he justified it by saying “the overwhelming amount of the money that we’re raising is not going to Hillary to run for president, it’s going to the down-ticket.” — Politico

The Hillary Victory fund raised 530 million. 145 million was spent on expenses, 158 million was sent to the presidential campaign, 108 million was sent to the DNC. That left 119 million for the state parties (22%), though much of that seems to have gone back to the DNC. The DNC also disbursed funds to state parties during 2016, but the majority of its expenditures during the 2016 cycle was spent on the national race.

This is in the past. We can only learn from it.

Here’s what you can do now to help Thompson’s campaign win.

If you haven’t already, please contribute to Thompson’s campaign at ActBlue and share their materials on social media. If you’re in Kansas, volunteer to GoTV.

PS. The candidate is endorsed by Our Revolution and, as of today by Daily Kos. Volunteers (including yours truly) are urging Our Revolution to crank up its GoTV phone/text machine for James Thompson. That is likely going to happen.

— Cross-posted at DailyKos | @subirgrewal