One of the things they don’t teach you in your High School government class is how much money is needed to win an election. One of the other things they definitely don’t tell you about is the fact that third parties can spend nearly unlimited amounts of money on your behalf, as long as they don’t talk to you about it.
The independent expenditure mailer has become a key to winning elections in the last few decades, but what happens when an independent expenditure that’s meant to help your campaign actually turns out to hurt it?
In the upcoming recall election of Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce (of SB 1070 fame), a group called Citizens United for Progress sent a mailer out in opposition to Pearce and in support of his recall opponent, Jerry Lewis. Here’s what they did and didn’t do to hurt candidate Lewis (via Phoenix New Times):
- They did NOT register their independent expenditure nor group with the Arizona Secretary of State (essentially possibly breaking the law, and sending out an anonymous hit piece)
- They used a mailing address outside of the State Senate district
- They used the word “Progress” in a fairly conservative district
I’ve received e-mails from pro-Lewis Republicans in Mesa describing the mailer in general and complaining that this is just the sort of thing that’s red meat for Pearce loyalists.
The word “progress” alone is anathema to GOPers schooled by Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. And the Tempe address will add fuel to Pearce’s contention that “outsiders” are supporting Lewis.
Pearce spoke of this mailer in passing on KTAR 92.3 FM’s Jay Lawrence Show Sunday night, and the mailer earned a mention by one speaker at a pro-Pearce rally Friday evening, held at a Mesa baseball stadium.
So what are some things you can do when a supposedly helpful Independent Expenditure turns out to backfire?
- If it’s really egregious and even possibly offensive , you can float the idea–through your representatives–that the mailer may have possibly been coordinated by your enemies as a way to discredit you.
- In order to prevent this type of mailer, make sure that your website is chock full of the correct message points and that you upload lots of high resolution photos that your Independent Expenditure can use.
- Send out a simple press release or statement to the media mildly objecting to the way the mailer was sent, as Jerry Lewis’s campaign did.
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