Go for the gelt

By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  January 10, 2007

“In the past, we’ve had the governor’s office setting the agenda and backing it up, with a paid professional person dealing with the press,” says Brent Andersen, committee member and party treasurer from Auburn. “Our chairman now is going to be the face of the party to the press, the fundraisers, the state-committee members, the Republican National Committee, activists, and political-action groups.”

Which, of course, is why the party was trying to elect someone by the time Patrick took office. Instead, the opposition party is in the hands of young executive director Brian Dodge, who put out a press release on Inauguration Day claiming that low turnout for the event signaled an end to Patrick’s honeymoon. The release was a source of considerable amusement among journalists and wags all day. At the Inaugural Ball, one quipped, “On the day they can’t get a quorum of their own committee members for an election, the state GOP wants to criticize Deval’s turnout?”

RNC: 99 percent negative
Kerry Healey wasn’t the only Republican for whom negative advertising failed in 2006. The national Republican Party organizations spent heavily on negative ads for candidates, and ended up losing both houses of Congress.

The GOP wasn’t alone, of course. Organizations must disclose “independent expenditures” that specifically advocate for or against a candidate for federal office — and a whopping 83 percent of the $262,687,665 reported by both parties to the Federal Election Commission for the 2006 election cycle was “against” a candidate, with only 17 percent “for” one.

But the GOP’s figures were even more tilted, according to the Phoenix’s analysis of the FEC data. The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) spent 92 percent of its $41.9 million “against”; the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) spent 98 percent of its $19.5 million “against”; and the Republican National Committee spent 99 percent of its $13.9 million “against.”

The equivalent Democratic committees combined to spend 87 percent of $105 million against candidates.

The FEC data covers direct-advocacy spending for House and Senate races; it does not include money spent on staff or donations, or on issue ads that don’t specifically urge a vote for or against a candidate.

Some of the biggest pro-Democrat groups went heavily negative by the following percentages: MoveOn.org, 93; NARAL Pro-Choice America, 91; government-employee union AFSCME, 90. But others were much more benign: Service Employees International Union, 12; League of Conservation Voters, 28; EMILY’s List, 35.

Interestingly, spending on behalf of Republicans broke down the same way in congressional races that they won and lost: 12 percent positive, 88 percent negative. But Democrats seemed to do better when they used a more positive tilt: spending for Democrats was 15 percent positive in House races they lost, but 20 percent positive in races they won. Could that persuade these groups to go more positive next time? Don’t count on it.

Newcomer joins the council race
Candidates hoping to run for an at-large seat on the Boston City Council usually start raising money the December of the year before the election — which, for the November 2007 election, would be last month.

Doing so allows your key supporters to give the $500 annual maximum donation twice. Getting $1000 instead of $500 from those folks helps a lot when you’re trying to raise $150,000 or more for a citywide campaign.

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