While high profile debates and low flying bi-planes grab our attention, the fate of each US Senate campaign now rests in a little known and rarely covered realm of politics, get out the vote or GOTV.
Getting out your vote, starts first with identifying your vote, a process that can easily take several weeks for a special election and in a regularly scheduled election it takes months of preparation and grunt work leading up to the big day.
So it was ominous sign for the Gomez camp Wednesday when a staffer sent out an email declaring that they had “just got in our first batch of phones and are looking to fill some call shifts…As you can imagine, in this shortened primary season, it is even more important to get calls done and ID voters to come out and vote for Gabriel.”
Campaigns often ignore GOTV tasks for more glorious pursuits that staffers [and reporters] no doubt find more intellectually stimulating, glamorous or just plain easier. Hard to see the fun in door knocking on a cold damp March day.
But ground game failure can often result in complete disaster, as Mitt Romney learned in 2012:
If they’ve been working the phones and doors, as Scott Brown did in 2010, camps should have identified by now a core base of voters highly committed to their candidate on April 30th.
Markey Press Secretary, Andrew Zucker, says the camp has “built the strongest grassroots operation in this state, recruiting more than 5,000 volunteers who have held more than 2,000 voter contact events.”
The Markey camp has staked everything on a boots on the ground GOTV model, highlighted by the camapign’s novel GOTV summit this Sunday to bring “together hundreds of Markey leaders from across the state to prepare for Get Out the Vote.”
The Lynch camp is planning an olde fashioned “word of mouth” effort and declined to detail their GOTV strategy for this story.
Markey has also been significantly helped by the League of Conservation Voters which plans to spend $650,000 to knock 219,000 doors for Ed Markey.
It is a blueprint “local enforcer John Walsh” has used to get everyone from Deval Patrick (talented candidate) to Suzanne Bump (out classed candidate) elected.
Way back in February, WBUR explained the Lynch and Markey approaches:
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In a low turnout special election every volunteer hour wasted holding signs is an hour not spent on direct voter contact. Stand outs have a low rate of return, when the special election audience is so small.
— Fire Fighters of MA (@THE_PFFM) April 10, 2013
On the GOP side, with even a smaller voter pool the race is tougher to read than a Nantucket fog, but one thing is clear the Winslow camp, like Markey, has invested significant resources on GOTV having knocked 6,000 doors and connected 50,000 calls to likely GOP voters.
According to Winslow Communications Director Charlie Pearce, Winslow is the only candidate “in the GOP primary to make a significant investment in a solid ground game. In a campaign that is likely to have only around 200,000 voters this is going to matter. By Election Day we will have personally contacted every likely voter in this state. That will be the difference in our margin of victory.”
Since GOP voters tend to live in suburban neighborhoods phone banking is a more practical direct voter contact tool.
And while the Gomez camp is just now installing phones to conduct voter identification, Alicia Preston of the Sullivan camp said they’ve “knocked on thousands of doors, made thousands of calls, and are very excited with the response we have received.”
Eighteen days to go.
Man up? Dial up!
In a letter to WCVB Friday, the Lynch camp ended its advertising boycott of the popular TV station but reserved the right to renew the boycott if in the “near future” the company is “not negotiating in good faith.”
IBEW 1228 issued a statement late Monday supporting the Lynch position. The station and the union plan negotiation sessions April 5 and 10.
IBEW 1228 claimed that Tom Steyer’s media buy in favor of Congressman Markey was the main reason why the union encouraged Lynch to buy time on WCVB.
Aside from the standard “my guy is right, your guy is wrong” tweets both the Markey and Lynch camps took additional steps to fact check the other prior to and during the debate last night.
Markey made the most impressive effort with separate “fact check” releases on issues ranging from economy, the VA, healthcare and the Keystone Pipeline. It was almost as if they divided their entire debate prep book into nine separate press releases. Some of the posts were so detailed, it could make opposition research all the more easier. Maybe too detailed, as it appears the Markey camp deleted most of those posts by this morning.
@andrewzucker did u delete some/most of the Fact Check posts you put up on your website yesterday?
— Jack Gately (@gatelywire) March 28, 2013
@gatelywire the ones you found before the debate
— Andrew Zucker (@AndrewZucker) March 28, 2013
@AndrewZucker is the @EdMarkey campaign press secretary.
The drop angered some reporters and Markey tweeps shot back:
— Jessica Taylor (@JessicaTaylor) March 27, 2013
— Andrew Zucker (@AndrewZucker) March 28, 2013
Meanwhile, Conor Yunits of the Lynch camp launched a special twitter account @MASENFactCheck which also had some reporters questioning it.
The neither the bio of @MASENFactCheck or the 28 tweet timeline makes mention of the Lynch campaign connection: “Follow for #masen fact checks on all candidates in the 2013 Special Senate Primary & General Election” A voter reading just the timeline or bio of @MASENFactCheck would have no way of knowing the information was coming from the Lynch camp.
@ajjaffe of the @thehil asked this question:
@masenfactcheck Nice service, but who’s running the feed?
— Alexandra Jaffe (@ajjaffe) March 27, 2013
— Conor Yunits (@conoryunits) March 27, 2013
@AndrewZucker of the Markey camp objected:
— Andrew Zucker (@AndrewZucker) March 28, 2013
Lynch will open his Dorchester field office with a cookout Saturday at 12:30PM. The Lynch “Day of Action” starts with canvassing at 10AM. The office is at 618 Blue Hill Ave, Dorchester.
Sullivan hosts his HQ opening from Noon till 2PM Saturday at 50 Finnell Drive, Weymouth, MA. The candidate will knock doors after the event.
Markey and Winslow have already opened offices, Gomez plans an office opening in the future.
Reading from the statements of all five Massachusetts candidates yesterday regarding the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War you’d be hard pressed to find an outward declaration of support for the war.
Both Markey and Lynch voted in favor of the Iraq War Resolution, even though the Democratic caucus voted against the resolution 81-126 and given the past ten years it would be hard to believe they (especially Markey) would make the same choice again. How progressives square their support for Markey on this count, I’ll never understand.
What about the Republicans?
Each issued statements on the war today and each purposely avoided a direct question posed by email: would you have voted for or against the Authorization of Military Force in Iraq.
Gomez, the former Navy Seal, offered a simple brief statement “honoring the sacrifice of the 62 who gave their lives from Massachusetts”. His campaign declined further comment. Less is more, as all candidates attempted to avoid politicization of the issue on the anniversary.
Winslow issued a decidedly hawkish comment: “There is no doubt that the world is a better and safer place with the end of this dangerous dictator who was an exporter of terrorism.” Not hard to conclude where he stands or would have stood, even though he still dodged the question. The Republican caucus went 215-6 in favor of the resolution.
But it was the Sullivan statement that strikes me as an equivocation: “Sullivan supported the goal of helping to build a free Iraq”.
He supported? As in in the past tense? What is his position now? Does he believe the the Iraq War a mistake?”
So I asked Sullivan spokesperson Lisa Barstow to clarify: “The statement speaks for itself. Not saying he would have voted for it, not saying he would have voted against it”. So why issue a statement that touches at all on your prior position? Why not go all Gomez and say very little?
I can’t true that up with the official comment, “Sullivan supported the goal”, that statement carries the very implication that Sullivan would have voted yes in 2002, but now thinks differently.
At least three times now, Sullivan has shifted when pressed on big issues.
That is a disturbing trend to see in any candidate.
The full candidate statements.
“The country owes the deepest debt of gratitude to the courageous servicemen and women who fought in Operation Iraqi Freedom to protect our liberty. What we should be doing today is honoring the sacrifice of the 62 who gave their lives from Massachusetts in this conflict. It is now our responsibility to ensure that our returning veterans have the job opportunities, training and treatment they deserve.”
Mike Sullivan supported the goal of helping to build a free Iraq that would respect the human rights of its people and create a more peaceful and secure Middle East — benefiting not only that region but the world.
The cost to America has been significant and personal — 4,600 American lives and many more wounded warriors who deserve our ongoing support. And an American taxpayer investment approaching $1 trillion to build a new, more stable region, which serves to honor the sacrifice of our men and women for generations to come.
Mike takes war and the sacrifice of our servicemen and women very seriously. Mike has traveled to Baghdad and witnessed first-hand the faces of our nation’s patriots. His daughter Kelly presently serves in the Army National Guard and his father and father-in-law both have served. Mike and his wife understand the gravity of the sacrifice of not only the men and women in uniform but also their families.
Even during challenging economic times, Mike is committed to ensuring our military men and women have the right training, equipment and support to execute their dangerous missions successfully, and as safely and quickly as possible so they can return home to their loved ones.
Today’s explosion killing seven Marines in a training operation further underscores the dangers and heroism our men and women in uniform undertake to keep America secure. Our hearts and prayers go out to their families on this sad and consequential day.
“Every man and woman who served our Nation in Iraq, especially those who lost their lives or who were injured, deserves our eternal admiration and appreciation. They ended the reign of Saddam Hussein who was a destabilizing presence in the Middle East. There is no doubt that the world is a better and safer place with the end of this dangerous dictator who was an exporter of terrorism and who no longer controls one of the most important countries in that region.”