Thursday, October 4, 2007

WILLIAM RUSSELL: NEW OPPONENT FOR JOHN MURTHA

Last night (October 3) at Diana Irey's fundraiser for her reelection campaign for Washington County (PA) Commissioner I met William. He's an Iraq War Vet from Johnstown, PA (also Murtha's homestown). I told William I'd offer him whatever support I can, although I will favor Diana if she runs against Murtha in 2008. The following is a long e-mail I sent to William about some other people at the event, including Diana, former Congresswoman Melissa Hart, and former Senator Rick Santorum. Melissa will run next year to regain her seat, now held by Jason Altmire.

E-Mail Follows:

William {Russell], you've met Melissa Hart, who was my congresswoman from the 4th CD, and of course you saw Rick Santorum.

It might be instructive to go to opensecrets.org on the Web and plug in the names of Diana Irey/John Murtha, Rick Santorum/Bob Casey, and Melissa Hart/Jason Altmire. It shows the funds the various candidates raised.

Murtha raised an obscene amount for one congressional district, $3.5 million, while Diana raised just another $900,000 -- an amazing amount for someone facing an entrenched candidate. Murtha won by 60-40, with Diana getting nearly 80,000 votes.

Okay, Santorum raised an amazing $27 million, and Casey raised about 40% less (still a huge amount). I believe Rick "misspent" about every dollar -- on high-priced campaign people and on TV advertising that didn't work. Casey beat him 59-41, really a terrible showing for Rick. I'm not an egomaniac, but I believe if I'd been Rick's campaign manager I could have gotten him 44-45% of the vote by spending half the money. (Basically, I would have spent several million having people go door-to-door.)

Rich has a "hot" personality, a slightly abrasive style that doesn't come across well on TV. He probably spent $10 million on TV, and it seemingly didn't gain him a single percentage point.

Melissa Hart spent a million dollars more than Altmire -- who had significant TV support from outside groups, the "527s" that poured in "hate" ads against her, including one featuring a (partially?) disabled serviceman. Melissa didn't stress her independence enough, and the opposition beat her over the head with the unpopular Bush-Santorum tandem.

Melissa is a "turn the other cheek" Christian, and thus she had a hard time responding to what she described (correctly) as a "pack of lies." As a soldier, you know that when you're facing someone who fights dirty, you have to do what is necessary to protect yourself.

I don't believe Melissa will have to outspend Altmire to win, and I do believe she will win. She needs about 50-75 (hopefully the 75) staffers and volunteers who are totally dedicated to her winnng. Those people can knock on 50,000 doors and/or make 50,000 phone calls.

On portraying yourself as an independent, a good thing to do in a state with a big Democratic edge: check out the wikipedia.org story on Heather Wilson, a congresswoman from Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is a veteran (Air Force), and she is not any more of a "maverick" than Melissa.

However, her district is 45% Hispanic, and she absolutely MUST get the Independent vote, just as Melissa must because of our district's Democratic registration edge. As the Wikipedia story points out, Heather got a lot of ouside help from "mavericks," especially John McCain, who saluted Heather for her independence. Heather's opponent is ALWAYS a Hispanic, once a man (Richard Romero), once a woman (Patricia Madrid).

The Dems pour money into the district to defeat her, but she wins by a "nose."

Diana's campaign was largely Internet-based, with several web sites supporting her, including my relatively tiny one. She had strong support, including Web sites, from veterans groups (Vets4Irey) and, especially, Free Republic. She raised hundreds of thousands of dollars over the Internet, and she had more individual contributors (7,000) than Murtha (6500). Melissa will need to make more use of the Net this time, because she won't be a sitting congresswoman with all sorts of access to nice PAC money.

Murtha got most of his money from DC, VA, and MD, which means he got it from lobbyists. He got $140,000 from UPMC, which was basically paying him back for establishing the Windbar facility, which enabled many $200,000 a year doctors to become $300,000 a year doctors. It created lots of "jobs" for floor moppers and bedpan disposers.

You live in a "bring home the bacon" district, as Melissa also does to a degree. Those districts believe that you really can get something for nothing. John Murtha has been there for 33 years (in Congress), and I don't notice that he's turned Johnstown or Washington or Monongahela into Beverly HIlls.

I don't think Diana's TV advertising -- you can probably find some of it -- was very effective. A lot it featured Murtha, not a good idea, apparently involved in some dirty dealings, but it was hard to hear and didn't make good use of text crawling across the bottom of the screen.

No one in unbeatable. But it does take money to run. I'm a great believer in two things: (1) door to door campaigning; (2) defining the "enemy" in very few devastating words. Read the Wison Wikipedia article to see how she demolished her 2004 opponent (Romero) in about 15 words. It had to do with his opposition to capital punishment. I may send this to Melissa at some point. There's nothing here I wouldn't say face-to-face.

If you get a chance, read the Fred Barnes article on Gov. Sarah Palin (one of my favorites) of Alaska. I believe Diana and Melissa would be the only people in politics who would merit a similar piece. http://weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/013/851orcjq.asp?pg=2 - 30k -


Sarah Palin's 18-year-old son, Track, enlisted in the Army on 9/11/07 and is now at Ft. Benning. She is the real deal.

William Russell's web site: http://WilliamRussellforCongress.com/
William Russell's e-mail: williamrussellforcongress@williamsrussellforcongress.com

Please check out his site. He would really appreciate it if you sent him a small contribution. Thanks.

If you'd like to contribute to Melissa Hart's campaign, please contact me and I'll tell you how to get it to her. She'll have a web site up soon.

1 comment:

Christopher said...

It must be fun to deal with politics in Pennsylvania. I'm envious as always, but it's more likely "grass is greener on the other side" thinking.

By the way, did you hear about Heather Wilson going for Senate (Domenici retiring seat)?