Independent Groups Prove It’s No Sweat to Coordinate Message, Target Races
Outside political groups are forbidden from coordinating their ad campaigns with the political candidates or parties they support, but they’re perfectly free to coordinate their activities with one another. And with enough cash pouring into a nexus of conservative groups for many in the media to term it the “shadow GOP,” The New York Times reports they’re having an easy enough time thinking strategically, avoiding duplication and picking their battles in the final week of the campaign:
The coordinating effort is led out of a nondescript office suite just blocks from the White House, where two groups formed with help from Karl Rove — American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS — share space with American Action Network, a nonprofit advocacy group. Together those strategists had already committed nearly $45 million for advertisements among them, according to Democratic advertising monitors’ best estimates. That does not include millions more being spent to get voters to polls through mailings, phone calls and text messages. Their office suite — which has been deluged with incoming messages from nervous donors asking for progress reports or offering advice — is also the site of the weekly strategy sessions, which have up to roughly 25 representatives from other Republican groups active this campaign season, participants say.
One example of the net effect, provided by the Times, is the House race in central Florida between Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D-Fla.) and her Republican challenger, state Rep. Sandy Adams. Kosmas steadily amassed a nearly four-to-one fund-raising advantage over her opponent, building up the kind of advantage that might typically send signs to the party committees in Washington that the race wasn’t competitive. But outside groups read the tea leaves differently and decided to launch a wave of attack ads on television against the Democratic incumbent, eventually succeeding in tilting the race in favor of Adams despite the fact that her campaign never made it up on television.
“We carpet-bombed for two months in 82 races, now it’s sniper time,” said Rob Collins, president of American Action Network, who’s also the star of his own profile today in The Washington Post. And while they aren’t the official GOP and don’t possess the same boots on the ground presence, these groups have proven it is no problem to build off the lackluster Republican committees and avoid the potential hazard of working at cross-purposes posed by the proliferation of independent voices spending large sums in a single race.