Todd Beeton alerted us to this earlier, but the new Working for Us PAC just fundamentally upended the conventional wisdom about Ellen Tauscher and her 2008 primary campaign.
This is not “cocky bloggers” who are “getting too big for their pixels”. Steve Rosenthal, Anna Burger, Eli Pariser, Linda Lipsen, Kos — the list of those involved amounts to an impressive breadth and depth of a coalition. These “top Democrats” targeting is a clear sign they “share the bloggers’ hostility” towards Ellen Tauscher.
Join me after the flip where I’ll take a look at how this has changed the money race, candidate recruitment, field, and communication.
The Money Race It is now likely that Ellen Tauscher will be the financial underdog in her primary campaign. Since bloggers started targeting her, it has become apparent to everyone that she has lost her ability to cut deals across the aisle, which dries up her corporate PAC support. In fact, considering Tauscher’s long-standing feud with Nancy Pelosi, the smart business PACs will contribute to her opponent and kiss up to the Speaker. And Tauscher’s New Dems didn’t raise much last year even with PAC support.
In 1996, Tauscher spend $1.7 million to buy her seat, but she lost that ability following her divorce. In short, Tauscher has lost access to the two main sources of support that have been there for her in the past.
But her opponent will be able to raise huge money online with DailyKos and Moveon and receive a great many checks from the trial lawyers. We’re talking millions.
Even more important is that there will be more than enough easy money to free the challenger from the phone to go out and campaign while Tauscher is begging for donations.
Candidate Recruitment What potential candidates want to hear are things like, “courageous primary challengers will have immediate, substantive, significant support.” Removing viability concerns means that we no longer need to find a self-funding candidate, we are free to find the best candidate. And with the emerging time-frame, there is no rush.
Primary campaigns are like recalls, the first question is whether the incumbent should be retired followed by a traditional comparison race.
It makes sense for a challenger to announce early in the quarter to be able to report good fundraising numbers out of the gate. Nobody wants to announce in the summer. That leaves early April or early October. The former turns this into a marathon and we can do better in a sprint. To make a long story short, the smart move isn’t until at least the first week in October (setting up a sprint 2 months longer than Lamont).
Until then, it will only be about Tauscher. Not about her compared to somebody else, but about what she is doing.
And now, there is a perfect vehicle to advance the debate on the first question. Working for Us probably has 9 months to keep the focus squarely on Tauscher while organizing the district and raising an army.
Field One huge potential for a challenger is the ability to leverage the entire Bay Area and deploy activists via the 6 different BART stations stretched across Tauscher’s district.
With Moveon and Kos working in tandem to electronically mobilize their tens of thousands Bay Area supporters the online potential for offline volunteering is enormous and scalable. The unions have impressive infrastructure in place and taken together there is an army waiting for walk kits and phone lists.
Communication Frank Russo has a great read on the democratizing of ideas that this race is triggering. Tauscher’s opponent is going to have real-time message capability across the blogosphere.
Voice in traditional media are going to be held to account — publicly. This is now the number one primary race in the country and online fact checking is going to keep the discussion in the reality-based world.
And newspapers aren’t just going to follow this in print, they are going to do it online. Already, this story has been blogged on by Lisa Vorderbrueggen, Robert Salladay and Josh Richman
As a proxie battle for the soul of the Democratic Party, this race is going to be exciting and the coverage will be expansive and in-depth. Political junkies should be delighted. As should Democrats in California’s 10th congressional district because you are going to have a choice.
If you are into campaigns and elections, Ellen Tauscher is certainly one to watch.