Pivoting to 2016

After the historic West Virginia election as well as a smashing Republican victory across the nation political junkies and policy wonks like me are pivoting to 2016.  In my case it is the intrigue of the presidential contest and the adjustment both parties will need to make to attract voters.

“How the GOP Can Court the Working Class” and “Delusions of the Democrats” may provide the answer to policy adjustments.  Beyond that Republicans focusing on the “working class” does not seem like a bad idea to me.  I thought it was interesting to read about today’s Democratic Party being “scared of its own shadow.”

These came from the Sunday Review in the New York Times.  For those interested below are links to read in detail what you might hear from the political parties over the next few months.

“How the GOP Can Court the Working Class” was written by David Leonhardt, editor of The Upshot, a New York Time politics and policy venture.

“Delusions of the Democrats” is an opinion by Kevin Baker, an essayist and author of the historical novel “The Big Crowd.”

Realistic View

(Editor’s Note:  The commentary below came as an email from Bob Harris.  I thought it was powerful and should be shared.  Mr. Harris grew up in Charleston where his father was editor of The Charleston Gazette and later Chief of Staff to Senator Jennings Randolph.  Bob Harris is based in Washington with extensive knowledge of government and politics.  He is principal in the firm of Hutter & Harris.)

Thanks for your thoughtful comments in your Final Look.

It is a very bleak look.  We are one day away from an election, but does anyone really know what this election is about.  Most elections are about the future, this election cannot be — I hope!!  If that is the case, the future is not bright at all!!

My mentors in politics and government were my father and Senator Randolph.  They taught me when it was time to be partisan and when it was time to roll up your sleeves and go to work.  I so often recall — fondly — the Senator taking me aside when I was a page and giving my first real lesson in bi-partisanship.  I recall him taking me to a desk off the center aisle of the Senate Chamber and telling me that that aisle divided political parties, not people — people crossed that line every day when it was necessary for the betterment of the country and their states.

Today, bi-partisanship is demonstrated only by Members sitting together at a State of Union address.  In between, Senators and House Members line up to campaign against their colleagues, to cut ads in another Members state, to host fundraisers for the opponent of another Member and more!!  Then, they come back to Washington and talk about working together, which cannot because they cannot trust each other…

Trust has gone…

And, so has the American people’s trust in their government.

Why, you ask?  Because it is pounded into our heads each day by the rancor of on-line reports (many, many, many unsubstantiated or ever false), by misleading press reports (both liberal and conservative) and by name-calling all over the internet, radio and television.

Today, we have the networks (Fox on one side, MSNBC on the other and all those somewhere in between) setting up the narrative of the election.  But, more importantly, the day-to-day inner workings of the government.  We see news on Fox we do not see on another network, we see news on MSNBC we see on no other network.  Worst of all, it comes from those reports from the rotunda of the Cannon or Russell Buildings as Members throw themselves in front of the all day parade of cable tv shows to complain about someone else, never talking about what is good about American or how we can make America a better place.  America is falling apart and it is always someone else’s fault.

I was in West Virginia this past weekend for the football game, the ads are everywhere.  When I left, I thought Barack Obama was the President of a country other than the one in which I live.  He is responsible for everything, even for stripping our rights!!

I am now back at my desk, awaiting the election tomorrow.  And, after that I will be here, watching the lamest of Lame Ducks.  Shortly after the New Year a new Congress will begin; the House and Senate will organize and we will be begin the 2016 election cycle.

Members will call each other names, accuse members of the “other party” of being anything but American, and block legislation sponsored by anyone from that other party.  They will do all that in the span of a 3 day work week and in between we will watch Members line-up to sponsor fundraisers and campaign against the colleagues!!

 

Final Look

The 2014 election cycle is the first in which I have not been actively involved at some level in years.  What a mess it has been to observe and I am certain readers have seen the same.

There has been so much money with some of it questionable, too many untruthful ads and organizations formed to destroy candidates.  Loyalty was out the window and candidates recruited with the hope of increasing the governing numbers with little understanding of what it means to serve.

My fear is this election will end up discouraging not only voters but anyone just getting interested in government (politics) from even thinking about volunteering – let alone running for office in the future.

Another concern is the increase cost to run for office.  The observations above are driving the huge costs.  Previously the cost of running for the legislature or local office was minimal.  Now it’s not only costly, but mean.

Where did all this meanness come from?  Who started it and why?

I feel it is driven by a new culture of those leading political parties, campaign consultants and outside groups.  Tomorrow we will learn if money and meanness worked.

My final look did not see a campaign that revealed a new course for West Virginia.  It was all about power, control and coal.

After this election I would encourage my Republican and Democrat friends to work for a new culture in their party and join together to chart a new path for West Virginia’s future.

Daisy

(Editor’s Note:  With campaign ads beginning to flow there is none more famous than “Daisy.”  Mr. Babb’s piece is offered for those new to campaigns and political advertising.  For those inclined to watch a link is provided below.)

By Drew Babb

Drew Babb teaches political advertising at American University and is president of the firm Drew Babb & Associates.

Fifty years ago, on Sept. 7, 1964, a political ad called “Daisy” aired on behalf of President Lyndon Johnson. The commercial opened with a little girl in a meadow, then a horrific nuclear blast filled the screen. We’ve been feeling the fallout ever since.

It was only a minute long. The paid ad ran on national television only once, and only on one network, NBC. But that’s all it took.

The message

Here’s what you would have heard that early fall evening during “Monday Night at the Movies”:

LITTLE GIRL (plucking daisy petals): One, two, three, four, five, seven, six, six, eight, nine . . .

“MISSION CONTROL”: Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, zero . . .

SOUND EFFECTS: Huge atomic bomb blast.

PRESIDENT JOHNSON: These are the stakes: to make a world in which all of God’s children can live, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other. Or we must die.

ANNOUNCER: Vote for President Johnson on Nov. 3. The stakes are too high for you to stay home.

The takeaway? Johnson’s Republican opponent, Barry Goldwater, was a crazed, trigger-happy cowboy. If his finger were ever on the nuclear button, the world would blow up. We’d all die.

The fallout

You can love “Daisy” for its power or hate it for its excess — I both love it and hate it — but it changed political advertising forever. Here’s how:

●It gave politicians a license to kill. Earlier political commercials were overwhelmingly upbeat. In 1960, Frank Sinatra sang a rewrite of “High Hopes” for John F. Kennedy, with this jolly lyric: “Everyone is voting for Jack, ’cause he’s got what all the rest lack.”

But “Daisy” was a full-throated, gloves-off, take-no-prisoners negative message. Arguably, and for better or worse, it’s the Mother of All Attack Ads.

To execute the spot, the creative types didn’t just run still photos with a crawl of type. They used every weapon in their arsenal. They grabbed for viewers’ hearts with an adorable little girl (commercial actress Monique Corzilius). They tapped into viewers’ greatest nightmare with footage of a huge mushroom-shaped cloud. (Remember, this was less than two years after the Cuban missile crisis.) They reinforced the visuals with intrusive sound effects (provided by the genius sound engineer Tony Schwartz). They had Johnson read a snippet of spiritual poetry (by W.H. Auden). And they hired a voice-of-God baritone (sports announcer Chris Schenkel) to wrap things up.

●By all means, trash the tropes. Nowhere in “Daisy” does an image appear of either candidate. Barry Goldwater is not mentioned. There are no American flags, bunting, stirring music or other cliches of the genre. Johnson’s ad agency, Doyle Dane Bernbach, deployed every bit of the imagery and verbal power typically used with nonpolitical clients such as Volkswagen, Avis Car Rental and Levy’s Rye Bread. DDB wasn’t going to pussyfoot around for the LBJ brand just because this was politics. The agency had its share of gentlemen and ladies, but when it came to gaining market share for its clients, they were New York street brawlers.

●Overreacting can boomerang. Before there was something called “earned media,” “Daisy” did just that. The Republican campaign erupted in outrage. The Johnson campaign, which anticipated the heat, quietly and quickly pulled the ad, and it never ran again. But the networks (only three of ’em, remember?) duly registered the GOP ire and — to show people what all the fuss was about — ran “Daisy” ad nauseam. Result: The one-time- only spot was shown over and over. And under the aegis of newscasts, it undoubtedly picked up credibility along the way.

The credits

So who crafted and produced this message? Who’s responsible for it?

Tony Schwartz is often given sole credit. But commercials are like little movies. They’re collaborative. The collaborators include Bill Bernbach, DDB’s creative director; Sid Myers and Stanley Lee, art director and copywriter, respectively; and producer Aaron Ehrlich. On the account management side, Jim Graham was the point person.

But a creative agency always needs a creative client, so you have to give a nod to the White House, too. Steve Smith was the “matchmaker” who had recommended the upstart agency to his brother-in-law John F. Kennedy. Bill Moyers, Jack Valenti and Richard Goodwin seem to have been on the receiving end of the pitch. Lyndon Johnson, ultimately, approved the ad.

The reverberations

We’re on the cusp of another expensive, nasty election. Gird up your loins, everyone.

Many of 2014’s candidates and their brilliant operatives weren’t alive when “Daisy” aired. But what they do and what they’ll produce will be influenced by those 60 seconds that ran 50 years ago.

Happy birthday, “Daisy.”

Link for TV ad.

 

Political Tidbits…9.01.14

It’s Labor Day…traditionally the start of the 2014 campaign season… but it started 11.07.12…not to be outdone the 2016 is already underway…at least for the presidency…and Senator Manchin being a placeholder for WV Governor.

State GOP Chair Lucas and his 2014 team have much at stake…they have put their political reputations on the line…promising to take over the House of Delegates…encouragement came Friday in The WV Poll…showing 41 percent of those polled favor Republicans controlling the Legislature compared to 39 percent of Democrats.

Already on high alert…incumbent House Democrats who normally feel safe…had better not run their normal style of campaign…or they could pay the price…modern campaigns are not just about showing up…but includes social media…telephone banks to GOTV…town halls…and lots of door knocking.  BTW…don’t forget to check your voting record.

These mostly local battles…will be difficult to follow…but smart candidates will be using free social media… that should be where to follow…outside of nasty TV ads…which Associated Press says is cued up.

Unless The WV Poll is wrong…the race for US Senate if nearly over…reported Friday in the Charleston DM…Capito has 54 percent and Tennant 37.

The entire 2014 election could be impacted by the Senate race…Republicans feel like Shelley is a shoe in…and stay home…costing local House of Delegate candidates needed votes…on the other side Democrats feel their local House candidates being incumbents are safe…that being the case it will all come down to getting the vote out…more than normal.

A movement of Republicans…is opening up with more support of Democrat Nick Casey…the 2nd congressional district…a “Republicans for Casey” organization took shape in the Charleston area just after the primary…it has been expanded to the Eastern Panhandle…reports coming out of the State Chamber’s annual meeting…is that well known GOP members were meeting with Casey…with his Maryland opponent Alex Mooney within sight…it is likely more is going on underground.

Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito…who Alex Mooney wants to succeed…paid lip service to him…by including Mooney in the visit Gov. Romney made to support her Senate race…if you’re a Facebook reader you have to be impressed with the territory  Capito has covered during the summer congressional recess…she knows how to use social media…lots of messages in her pictures.

FINALLY…the voters have spoken up and told candidates…coal is not their top issue…but that is all you hear from candidates…jobs & unemployment continues as the top issue…granted coal plays into jobs…but wonder what would happen if a candidate actually had a vision about our future… without a strong coal economy…thanks Charleston Daily Mail for bringing this to the forefront.

There is growing unhappiness and disgust among normal Republicans with how mean those running Chairman Lucas’s State Republicans headquarters…have become…which backfire in turnout…negative is one thing…meanness another.

Democrats are not going to turn over the WV Legislature without a fight…and with August Interims over…the battle will be joined…with incumbents looking to those they have supported on various issues over the years…for extra support in this tough year for all incumbents…lobbyist plan on spending more.

Republicans are still asking who invited author Dinesh D’Souza who was about to be sentenced for federal charges of breaking campaign finance laws  to keynote a “Victory Dinner”…insiders say National Committeewoman Melody Potter…bragged at recent GOP Women’s lunch…about extending the invitation.

Speaking of Melody Potter…it was noticeable her name was not included on Kris Warner’s host committee for a coming fundraiser…they serve together on the national GOP committee.

ICYM…State BOE President Gayle Manchin and State Senator Donna Boley are at each other…Boley part of a team helped organize a WV Town Hall Forum about Common Core standards…which occurred as the legislature started August interims…an unexpected large turnout must have upset Manchin…and the emails started.

Outside money is pouring into the state to support campaigns in both camps…remember when an out-of-state group started running negative ads in Underwood’s 96 campaign for Governor…and he called for them to stop…how things have changed.

Cannot pass up mentioning the WV Derby at Mountaineer…a place where Politics & Horses come together annually…and the politics being playing out across the country…as horsemen figure out the future…not unlike what should be going on with WV’s economy.

**********

We mourn the passing our friend Jim Reed who represented WV on the Republican National Committee from 2004 until 2012.  Jim’s support of our party was never ending.

 

 

 

Running

(Full disclosure:  I am a member of the WV Racing Commission.  The views expressed here are strictly my personal ones).

There is nothing as exciting as horse racing.  Saturday will be the 45th running of the West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort.  What a better time to take a look at this day and the impact the racing industry has on our State.

First, there will be horses from the 2014 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands along with nationally known stakes and Triple Crown winning jockeys.  119 horses (including “also eligible”) will make up a nine card program.

West Virginia native Brereton C. Jones is the breeder of Divine View who will start from post position seven in the Derby.  Jones is a former resident of Point Pleasant who entered the Thoroughbred breeding business and went on to become Governor of Kentucky.  It will be exciting to have him back home.

Saturday’s race is not the only exciting thing about horse racing.  The Thoroughbred and Greyhound industries have a significant impact on West Virginia’s economy.  A study conducted by the College of Business and Economics at West Virginia University documented the 2012 impact.

The study found more than $321 million in total business volume was contributed to the state economy.  The industries support more than 7,300 jobs and generated more than $100 million in total employee compensation.  State tax revenue generate from racing is $4.6 million.  The researchers made note that this does not include the spillover effect on other industries.

Like other sections of our economy the racing industry is not without its problems.  Purse funds have been dwindling due various cuts in supporting funds and new competition casinos are confronting.   Lottery revenues which impact racing were down from peak of $1.56 in 2006-07 to $1.21 billion for 2013-14 budget year.  The Charleston Gazette reported the number of casino machines in use was 7,354 dropping 53 percent from the maximum of 13,900.

Efforts need to be made in both the lottery and racing industries to look for new ideas to increase revenue to help state leaders avoid even thinking about a taxpayer increase.

If you cannot make it to Mountaineer on Saturday join the live one-hour telecast on Fox Sports Network (FSN) that begins at 5 p.m.

There is another exciting West Virginia racing opportunity at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races on October 18th when the West Virginia Breeders’ Classics will be run.

Manchin For President?

POLITICO’s Huddle reports this morning that U. S. Senator Joe Manchin has not ruled out running for President.   The story by Scott Wong is below.

By Scott Wong (swong@politico.com or @scottwongDC)

IF HILLARY PASSES, MANCHIN FOR PRESIDENT? – Sen. Joe Manchin says a 2016 presidential run is “low on the totem pole,” but he’s not exactly ruling it out.

The West Virginia Democrat, a frequent critic of President Obama and perhaps the most conservative Democrat in the upper chamber, has already endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016. But if the former secretary of State takes a pass, expect to hear more about the former Mountain State governor – especially with former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, another possible ’16 hopeful from a red state, making some off-color remarks about gays and prostitutes.

Some Twitter accounts have popped up in the past week with the handles @NH4JoeManchin and @Iowa4JoeManchin – though he hasn’t made trips to those early primary states. @DraftJoeManchin recently tweeted: “We think that Joe Manchin is the most gifted leader and the most unifying leader we could elect as our next President.”

“It’s very flattering. The bottom line is people are searching for somebody who’s willing to fix things rather than talk about them,” Manchin told your Huddle host on Tuesday. “It’s something I haven’t given an awful lot of thought about. I’ve been working hard trying to get [the Senate] to work. It’s a shame. It really is a shame. It’s a great country, and we have a lot of good people here, but somehow politics has trumped policy.

Told that Manchin’s politics would probably be too conservative to win his party’s nomination, he replied: “My politics are about as middle of the road and American as you can get. I keep saying I’m fiscally responsible and socially compassionate, and I think most Americans are.”

A more likely scenario is that Manchin — frustrated with Senate gridlock — will run for the governor’s mansion again in 2016. But is a presidential bid completely off the table? “I would think it’s low on the totem pole,” he said.

Those who’ve worked closely with Manchin say he’s a talented politician who is beloved in his home state, even if he’s far from a household name on a national level.

“I don’t speak for Sen. Manchin, but if Secretary Clinton decides not to run the field will be as wide open as the Grand Canyon,” said Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis, who served as Manchin’s first chief of staff in his Senate office. “At that point, with his retail politicking skills, Manchin could make a real run against more mortal and less seasoned politicians.

“If she runs,” Kofinis added, “it’s almost impossible to see the realistic path how anyone on the Dem side beats her in a primary.”

Lottery Revenue vs. More Taxes

A new opportunity for the Lottery industry and horse racing became public last week.  EquiLottery a Kentucky based company has developed an innovative horse racing and lottery game.

Just last month I wrote with Lottery revenue continuing to decline I would assume the WV Lottery has a “think tank” to look for and assess new ideas and concepts.  Well here is one.

EquiLottery connects the results of live horse races to the lottery experience, while providing a social element many lottery games currently lack.  EquiLottery racetracks could become the focus of horseplayers around the world.

Studies were conducted by Gaming Laboratories International forecasts in the first year of implementation EquiLottery will perform around 3-4% of the lottery’s current annual revenue.

EquiLottery says the game would allow lottery players to participate in the same wagering pools as horseplayers, with the game promising to create dynamic payout for lottery and horseplayers while keeping in line with the legislative and financial realities of international lottery corporations.

Brad Cummings, EquiLottery President & CEO wants to increase exposure of horseracing and develop new fans but he made it clear that lotteries also need ample incentive to incorporate new games into their corporate strategies.  He said this comes at a time when both racing and lottery industries are looking for ways to adapt to the evolving market place.

To assist lottery “think tankers” or my readers here is a website link for EquiLottery.

This leads me back to the need to generate new lottery revenue in West Virginia.  Lottery revenue provides funds for various services.  Without it a state tax increase may be required.

Let’s hope Lottery leaders and others take a look at this new idea.

Have We Learned?

An earthquake hit the Republican Party last night.  House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) was defeated  by a Tea Party challenger.  This will fuel Tea Party types with the real impact hitting in 2015 and 2016 as battle for the Republican nomination moves into full gear.

I just hope this is realized by all Republicans not just insiders.  The consequence will be significant as we enter the contest to select a 2016 Republican presidential nominee.

Every day Republicans not active in the party must get involved immediately if we are to nominate a presidential candidate who can get elected.  Otherwise, let’s just crown Hillary Clinton.

This cannot wait until the excitement of a campaign.  Anyone who follows politics will recall the movement to nominate Barry Goldwater in 1964 started well before that year.  F. Clifton White was organizing, recruiting and taking control of Republican Party machinery at the local level.  This is well document in his book Suite 3505.

That year regular Republicans waited too long and the battle ensured.  Throughout the spring and summer of 1964 there was blood on the floor everywhere you looked.  At the last minute even former President Dwight Eisenhower got involved trying to save the Republican Party from itself.  We all know how 1964 turned out!

In West Virginia control of the party has been underway for some time by Tea Party believers.   Our representatives to the Republican National Committee are Tea Party in their heart.  The State Chairman is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”.   Following the May election when new county GOP committee members were elected the same is taking place as committees reorganize.

This take over extends even to selecting a Congressman to replace Shelley Moore Captio in the 2nd District.  Not only has the Tea Party prevailed there but it was done with a Maryland resident coming across our state line.

Eric Cantor is a conservative Republican but not obviously to the extent liked by the extremists.

Extremism cannot win in 2016 get involved now – don’t wait until it’s too late.

 

You’re encouraged to comment.  Just go to bottom of the post…look for Comment or No Comment and click.

 

Why Not?

Revenue in our State is needed as badly as pothole filling.  The legislature faced with trying to find funds to restore “people” services in its recent special session had to move money from one account to another.  No one can argue about funding badly needed social services.

Beyond that Phil Kabler, Statehouse Reporter for The Charleston Gazette, reported last week that Lottery revenues are expected to be down about $100 million from 2012-13 and some $360 million below the Lottery’s record revenue of $1.56 billion in 2006-07.  The report said Lottery is expected to have had about $1.2 billion of revenue for the current fiscal year which ends June 30.

The time has come to look at new ideas to generate revenue without putting an additional burden on state taxpayers.  I wrote about this in February and offered what I am certain are controversial ideas related to gambling.  Here is a link if you did not read my February blog.

The beauty about new ideas to generate money from internet gaming, taxing Advance Deposit Wagering, offering Instant Racing and other ideas is most funds – reaching our state coffers – will come from out of state or around the world.  That could be a road map to avoid a tax increase on our citizens,  which could surely come if revenue from outside our boarders is not tapped.

Remember the huge money that came into West Virginia after the Lottery was established and casinos were built?  Yes, that is drying up because of competition from nearby states.  Well only three states now offer internet gaming.

With Lottery revenue continuing to decline it could be assumed they have a “think tank” looking at new revenue generating programs brought on by the growth of technology in their industry.  Likely the operating casinos and the state’s horseman are doing the same thing.  Let’s get the ideas from these organizations, our citizens, state officials and others on the table now.  Work should begin on these and other ideas long before the 2015 legislative session.

Why not?