All posts by rob

The Shoestring Campaign Of John Edwards In California

Of the top four candidates for the Democratic nomination former Sen. John Edwards is the only candidate who does not have any paid staff or campaign offices in the nation’s largest state. The campaigns of Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and Gov. Bill Richardson all have devoted resources on the ground in California including offices and paid staffers.


Delegate rich California, with a population of 38 million people, will deliver a mega amount of delegates on February 5, 2008. In the latest SUSA poll Sen. Hillary Clinton has a 21 point lead in California over Sen. Barack Obama with Edwards finishing third with 15%. 

“The Edwards insurgent road map is clear: convert progressive positions into labor endorsements, win Iowa, ride a big momentum wave in terms of press coverage and online money and then slingshot out to the bigger states” like California, said Democratic consultant Chris Lehane, a veteran of the Clinton White House who worked for Al Gore in 2000 and for 2004 presidential candidates John Kerry and Wesley Clark.

Democratic consultant Bill Carrick, who’s worked on presidential campaigns for Bill Clinton, Dick Gephardt and Ted Kennedy, said if Edwards stumbles in Iowa “he won’t have a California campaign.”

However, Carrick said even while concentrating on the earlier states Edwards must establish a campaign in California if he is to take advantage of early momentum.

“If you don’t have any preparation in California … it makes it all the harder to be competitive here if you do get here,” he said.

Carrick recalled that in 1988 Gephardt, the former Missouri senator, won Iowa and finished second in the New Hampshire primary, but lacking money he didn’t have the organization in other states to be competitive and fell out of the race.

Edwards and Kerry carried California by double-digits in 2004, but surveys this year show the former senator trailing Clinton and Obama.

With Edwards’ fundraising lagging millions behind Obama and Clinton he must pick his spots, said Bruce Cain, director of the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

“You cannot campaign in California without spending tens of millions of dollars,” Cain said. “He’s got to think long and hard before he diverts money to California.”


The California Gubernatorial Election of 1934

Crossposted to BlueSunbelt.Com the Southern netroots site

Stephen Green has a fascinating look at the 1934 race for Governor of California in which reformer and author Upton Sinclair came in second place despite some $10 million that was spent against him by the Republicans. Sinclair lived in various parts of the country over the years including Greenwood, Mississippi, Buckeye, Arizona, and Bound Brook, New Jersey in addition to California and was a Pulitzer Prize winning author who spent a lifetime fighting for social and economic justice. 

Even with 10 million Americans out of work in the depths of the Great Depression, many people scraped together enough change to go to the movies. In the fall of 1934, they were watching Jackie Cooper and Wallace Berry in “Treasure Island,” Ann Harding in “The Fountain” and Joan Crawford and Clark Gable in “Chained.” Along with the movie, they also saw a newsreel and a cartoon.

In California, there was an added feature called “California Election News” distributed by MGM, although the studio’s logo was nowhere to be seen. The short took aim at a Democratic gubernatorial candidate who was scaring the bejuses out of California’s establishment. He was America’s most prominent Socialist and muckraking author, Upton Sinclair.

The 1934 campaign was perhaps the start of modern political campaigns as we know them now.

  Whitaker brought a new concept to campaigns — total management. His firm, based in Sacramento’s Forum Building on 9th Street, did everything for the campaign: planning, scheduling, speeches, ad production and placement, paying bills and anything else needed.

Innovations included 30-second radio spots and planting news stories and editorials in newspapers and broadcasts. Editors and news directors were usually willing to use canned material when Whitaker also bought ads and paid in advance. He put on carefully scripted rallies and organized front groups with names such as “California League Against Sinclairism” (CLAS) to mount attacks. One CLAS initiative was the widely distributed red SINCLIAR DOLLAR from the Uppy and Downy Bank “good only in California and Russia.”

His strategies became basic tenants of future campaigns: never wage a campaign defensively; the only successful defense is a spectacular, hard-hitting, crushing offensive; attempt to create actual news instead of merely sending out publicity; more Americans like corn than caviar; the average American doesn’t want to be educated, he doesn’t want to improve his mind, he doesn’t even want to work, consciously, at being a good citizen; most every American likes to be entertained… put on a good show.


Clinton Has Strong Lead In First Oregon Poll

Sen. Hillary Clinton has a strong lead in one of the first polls that is out for 2008 from the Pacific Northwest. A new Riley Research poll shows Clinton with a 10 point lead over her nearest challenger Sen. Barack Obama. All other candidates finished in single digits behind Clinton and Obama with John Edwards in third, Al Gore in fourth, Bill Richardson in fifth, Randy Crow in sixth, and Chris Dodd in seventh.


Hillary Clinton  31
Barack Obama  21
John Edwards  8
Al Gore  4
Bill Richardson  2
Randy Crow  1
Chris Dodd  0
Undecided  27
Misc.  2
Refused  2

23 States May Hold Primaries On February 5

A total of 23 states may hold primaries on February 5, 2008. By the end of the day as many as 50% of the delegates will have been chosen. The end of the long primary season is changing the game plans of all candidates as they figure out how to put their resources into the larger delegate rich states and to assess if Iowa and New Hampshire will have as much impact as they had in the past.

The presidential primary system as we have known it for 35 years is dead. History books will record that the era that began with the Democratic National Committee’s post-1968 reforms ended Aug. 19, 2006 at the hands of the very same DNC.