We visited 11 states and had a record-setting fundraising week between our first press conference on Capitol Hill July 27 and Thursday’s return trip (click on image below for full Roll Call article). Shortly thereafter, Representative Kevin McCarthy announced he would not be Speaker Boehner’s replacement and Open Secrets (click for full story) noted either Representative Daniel Webster or Jason Chaffetz could be the first Speaker without historic ties to big money.
I had planned to spend a couple of hours walking the Halls of Congress to update a few people on the positive reaction we were getting for conservative solutions to campaign finance reform. Needless to say the Hill was electric with the breaking news of McCarthy’s decision, particularly among some of our earliest supporters on the Hill who backed Webster even before McCarthy withdrew. Some who first heard of me after Dave Brat upset Eric Cantor last year were quick to note the revelation that Speaker Boehner actually planned to retire a year earlier and turn the reigns over to Eric Cantor but for that race.
While we certainly take no position on who should be elected the next Speaker or other election matters, we are encouraged that questions are being raised about the status quo that are also leading conservatives to consider some of the campaign finance solutions we have explored with position papers. Is it really good for anyone that a huge amount of third party money can be used for basically anonymous attack ads, come from foreign sources through millions of unverified and undetectable credit card transactions, and leave so little money to candidates themselves that Scott Walker and Rick Perry drop out for lack of a staff?
A piece in Politico raises the issue of the absence of Republican ground games under the current system. My goal is not to tell Republicans how to win elections, but to suggest the current campaign finance system is not good for anyone and changes should be supporting across ideological lines. For balance, it is fair to note that the photo Politico ran with this piece shows a commercial playing in the background that WAS successful – so TV does work too, but ground games are essential not only to winning many campaigns but to the interaction we want between campaigns and candidates for good government.
A panelist at our press conference referenced the practice of many to visit a Representative and say something like, “This one line gets in our way, and we have millions of dollars to spend on commercials against candidates who will not support a simple amendment to fix it.” And the official thinks, “Well, the amendment is not that big a deal, and I would need to raise $2700 from a lot of people to offset those millions if they are spent against me, and it’s just one amendment,” and the tax money goes out the door and the deficit grows.
Contrast this with my flight back from Washington this week. I happened to sit next to a young man who had visited Arlington National Cemetery as he prepared to join the Marine Corp, where he hoped to become a sniper. Through total luck, I noticed that his US Senator happened to be sitting in the row in front of us and was able to slip him a note. The Senator was happy to have the opportunity to greet the young, Patriotic man and tell him of his recent trip to Afghanistan, and the soon-to-be-Marine was left beaming. Most elected officials ran to base decisions on conversations with their constituents, not someone out of district with a thinly veiled threat to bombard them with negative TV.
The feedback regarding our issues from 11 states has been great – and we want officials to focus on tens of thousands of small donors in their own districts just as we solicit feedback from them on our proposals. We have trips planned to Oklahoma and New Hampshire next, so let us know if you would like us to come to your state and set up a state chapter. Also, we are having an open house fundraiser October 30 and 31 at our headquarters a few blocks from Auburn University, where Mississippi and Auburn will play on Halloween.
Please let us know if you can attend. I am also happy to report that this week was by far our best fundraising week to date based on contributions received and pledged. Thank you for sending your contribution today to help next week be even better, particularly with a donor matching each contribution.
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