Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Tracy Press: McNerney Hires Fundraisers

On Saturday I reported that Jerry McNerney had hired a fundraising consultant in Washington. In today’s Tracy Press, Nick Juliano picks up the story and runs with it. The article gives Say No to Pombo its first press mention, although in doing so it refers to us as a "liberal blog," which strikes me as somewhat inaccurate. (Maybe when some of the Republicans and Independents I've invited to post here take me up on my offer, it will be clearer that this blog is primarily an anti-Pombo site.) More importantly to all of you, the article provides a couple of interesting factoids to chew on about the status of the race to unseat Pombo.

Here’s the important section in terms of new information:

About two weeks ago, McNerney hired Ken Christensen, of the Washington firm Christensen McDevitt Inc., [Update 11-29-05: sic--correct name is Christensen & Associates, Inc] to expand his fundraising outreach to liberal political action committees, including those representing labor unions and environmental groups.

None of McNerney’s contributions have come from PACs, which were responsible for about a fourth of Filson’s campaign cash. Since September, Filson has contracted with the firm Fraioli & Associates to reach out to Washington donors, said Lisa Tucker, a campaign consultant.

At this point I’m not sure about the merits of the various firms Filson and McNerney have hired. The TP article does include a bit more background on Ken Christensen, but nothing terribly exhaustive. I’m putting this information here in the hopes that one of you may know more about these firms and enlighten the rest of us. If I don’t hear from anyone, I might have to more extensively consult the Google oracle and see what wisdom they can divine for us. Note, said oracle has brought me this information, which shows that Lisa Tucker is very closely tied to Ellen Tauscher. Ellen Tauscher, incidentally, also happens to be a client of Fraioli and Associates. It’s unclear whether Tucker spoke to the TP as a spokeswoman or as a source, but in any event it is clear that Steve Filson has only further folded himself into the warm embrace of Ellen Tauscher’s political family.

The other aspect of the article that I noted was, sad to say, a couple of errors when it came to numbers. Maybe I’m going to embarrass myself again like I did last week, but I’m fairly certain that each of the following excerpts at least give an erroneous impression:

  1. Through the end of September, McNerney, who lost his race last year against Republican Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, had raised about a third as much as Steve Filson, a political novice from Danville who has the support of influential Washington Democrats. McNerney had about $35,000 in the bank compared to Filson’s $100,000, according to the most recently available Federal Election Committee filings.

    PoliticalMoneyLine’s analysis and my own both show that McNerney raised at least $53,000 to Filson’s $106,000. Granted, McNerney disbursed quite a bit of that money and ended up with the cash on hand that Juliano reports. Still, it would have been more accurate for Juliano to write that McNerney raised about half as much as Filson, rather than a third as much. Neither sounds (or in fact is) good. But in an article nominally about McNerney’s new fundraising efforts, these type of facts and figures matter.

  2. Whichever Democrat emerges also will have to fight against the built-in advantage for Pombo established by the district’s boundaries.

    Forty-four percent of the district’s registered voters are Republicans, compared to 37 percent who are Democrats and 15 percent who didn’t affiliate with either party, according to the most recent statistics from the Secretary of State’s office. However, San Joaquin County, which holds the bulk of the district’s voters, is more evenly split with 43 percent registered Republicans and 42 percent registered Democrats.

    I’m not sure why Juliano included the last sentence. It gives the impression that the part of San Joaquin County that lies within CA-11 is more Democratic than the district as a whole, when the opposite is true. In a grotesque example of gerrymandering, a good chunk of relatively Democratic Stockton was cut out from the district to help the re-election chances of former Rep. Gary Condit. Pombo, for his part, was probably happy to see those voters go. In any event, the Secretary of State’s office has just published updated voter registration stats which show that the part of San Joaquin County that is in CA-11 has a 37 percent Democratic/ 46 percent Republican breakdown in voter registration. (If you want to check my math, the stats show 74,909 Democrats and 92,716 Republicans, out of 198,917 registered voters).

    Incidentally, for those interested, San Joaquin County as a whole only has a slight difference in the registration of Democrats and Republicans because 35,000 Democrats but only about 21,000 Republicans live in the part of SJC cut out from CA-11. I haven’t really considered it before, but I think it’s likely, just from looking at the numbers, that a significant chunk of Margee Ensign’s potential support in Stockton comes from people who do not live in the district. Because of this, we need to be careful not to overstate her hometown appeal.


Blogger VPO said...

Congrats on getting the mention in Tracy Press. After that horrendous editorial on Sat., it is good to see that their reporter, Nick Juliano, is staying balanced and fair.

As far as Steve Filson, as someone told me, his daughter works or has worked for Ellen Tauscher. That is part of the connection. As far as Lisa Tucker, here is the relevant line, "In 2000 and 2001, Tucker served as campaign manager and district director to California Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher."

In all these regards, Filson is the official "Tauscher-backed" candidate at this point. Whether that rallies the grassroots and inspires the San Joaquin voters, remains to be seen, but I doubt it. Right now, he seems to be coming from the "top down" rather than the "grassroots up".

As I heard it, he was not too happy about Margee Ensign's entry into the race and tried to discourage her from running.

All in all, we seem to be heading towards a repeat of the "Elaine Shaw catastrophe of 2002". She was another "Tauscher-backed" candidate. She got creamed in that election, even with all that Tauscher/DCCC money and support behind her (or maybe because of Tauscher-lite not playing well in San Joaquin?).

Filson may turn out to be a fine candidate, but what galls me about him is the sense that he believes he is the anointed one and deserves the nomination, before he has earned (and maybe he never will earn this) the support of the grassroots -- that is, the Dems and others on the ground working against Pombo's reelection. Filson doesn't deserve the nomination just because Tauscher and the DCCC waved a magic wand over his head, and he certainly cannot win an election on that basis.

11:27 AM, November 22, 2005  
Blogger Matt said...


You make some interesting points.

I should point out is that Elaine Shaw was not backed by the DCCC in the same way that the DCCC will back whoever wins the Dem nomination in this race. The DCCC is actually targeting Pombo this time, which means they're planning on devoting considerable resources to ousting him.

Also, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if Filson was unhappy that Ensign got in the race. His whole strategy since he began has been to position himself as the front-runner. When it was only him and McNerney, Filson could spew that "the district needs a fresh face" pap that he tried once or twice. He also could position himself as "sadly" concluding that McNerney didn't have what it takes to win, thereby leaving Filson (at least if you bought his line) the only credible challenger to Pombo.

With Ensign in the race it's clear that Filson's going to have to work harder for the Central Valley votes (knowing about the fog doesn't trump actually living in the area). More to the point, knowing about the fog and swamp coolers never even sounded like credible anchors for outreach to the Central Valley. But his ability to say something about how he'd have an in with the Central Valley voters might've convinced people who did not know any better. So as a perception management strategy, it had a little more going for it than an actual campaign strategy. Now, however, Ensign's residency in Stockton provides a good foil to Filson's relative lack of experience in that area. So he looks much less attractive to those who are looking for the person who can win.

Also, if Ensign pulls through with her fundraising, she might make Filson's numbers look less impressive.

Both of the following consideration stem, I think, from the fact that Filson's main strengths have been comparative strengths, not absolute ones. Ensign's entrance provides a bit of perspective that makes Filson look less of a giant and more of a man.

Lastly, we know that Filson does not want a primary. He believes the DCCC line that a primary would be bad hook, line, and sinker. We already know that Tauscher and others were trying to lean on McNerney to leave the race. Now that a primary is all but inevitable, Filson going to have to fight for the Democratic nomination instead of having it handed to him on a silver platter. I'm eager to see if he has the gumption to really stick out a long, hard slog, if that's what it becomes.

5:01 PM, November 22, 2005  

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