Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Beatty Scam?

As someone who has a lot of experience working with direct mail in campaigns, Beatty's direct mail story is simply bizarre.
When a Massachusetts Republican raises nearly $2 million in a bid to unseat a Democratic US senator, it should be a good sign that the campaign wars are in full throttle in this notoriously one-sided state. But Jeff Beatty, the GOP's hope for unseating John F. Kerry, is struggling to register even a blip on the state's electoral landscape....

The reason for the deafening political silence: Beatty has been able to use only a fraction of his donations directly on his race. The rest, well over $1.7 million, has gone to Response America, a direct mail firm out of Arlington, Va., and its vendors.

Now, from what I understand, Beatty's received nearly $2 million in checks - mainly from small donors, as the article points out later on - but only a tiny fraction of that, less than $300,000, has been available to him due to the expenses of the direct mail firm. Furthermore, this firm, Response America, was suggested to Beatty by the National Republican Senate Committee, NRSC.

Given the facts, there's four possibilities:
  1. Beatty was hoodwinked. This was a bad deal. The NRSC told him to do it anyway, and when they said jump, he jumped.
  2. This company is crooked. In such a 'tough economic year' I wonder how much those Response America executives are raking in? I wonder which Republican Senators are friends with the owners of the company? I wonder how hard they're all laughing?
  3. Beatty's not the brightest bulb. Direct mail, while not the worst way to raise money, is incredibly expensive and thus needs to be used wisely. Did someone bother telling him that? Mail should only go out to previous donors. Donor lists need to be created the hard way, through hundreds and hundreds of candidate phone calls, or at least good lists of people who would be interested in a Massachusetts long-shot senate race (and in that case, only as a start: the list should later be narrowed based on responses). Come to think of it, he had to have been at least partially hoodwinked if he thought blind direct mail all across the USA was going to magically fund his campaign.
  4. All of the above.
First, let's all rejoice in how stupid the Republicans are in their campaigning this cycle. A strong Republican candidate could have given Kerry a run for his money, even if he has a lot of it.

Second, if Beatty ever criticized the Pike or any other mass highway organization with tolls, he should really just get out of this race right now. It's been Ryan's Take for a long while that the Turnpike Authority's sole purpose is to not to fund the Pike, but to employ people, since the overwhelming majority of its toll collections (75%+) goes straight back to the well-compensated employees. This is why Ryan's Take is to just get rid of the freaking tolls, merge the highways systems and raise the gas tax by 5-10 cents to compensate. Well, Beatty's beat those asinine margins by flying colors, paying 85% of what he raised right back into the costs of direct mail - which is just astounding, atrocious and hilarious all at the same time. He would have been better off wandering the streets of Carlisle begging for change. He may have earned a few votes at the same time!

Lastly, after such a dismal and uneventful campaign, Beatty should retire from politics. Talk about a disgrace!


Anonymous said...

I would say "2" although idiot may be too strong a term.

It's apparent that the State GOP was behind Jim Ogonowski, who if memory serves, trounced Beatty in one poll just before signatures were to be submitted.

Ufortunately for Ogonowski, he had a math problem regarding his signatures, which made Beatty the defacto candidate.(BTW, Ogo was a dreadful candidate but he did have name recognition which Beatty, after months of campaigning, simply lacks.)

So without the party's support, Beatty, who is hardly independently wealthy, had to scramble for funds. (One indicator is the fact that Mitt Romney has done absolutely nothing on Jeff's behalf. That speaks volumes.)

Further, if you take a look at his FEC disbursement reports, you're likely come to the conclusion that Beatty & Co. had to raise funds in order to raise more funds. Response America wasn't the only organization that benefited from Jeff's candidacy. As the Globe report suggests, this is not a recipe for success.

But here's the most telling issue -- have you ever heard any discussion (much less mention)of Beatty's finance director? In all likelihood he or she doesn't exist. So Beatty, like a lamb in a den of lions, had to figure this all out on his own.

In other words, they saw him coming.

That's why Kerry will be elected to another term.

Ryan Adams said...

I wouldn't say that's why Kerry will be reelected (he'd have beated Beatty anyway), but it's certainly why this race won't be anywhere near close.

Ryan Adams said...

also, I agree that 'idiot' was a bit strong. I edited it to 'not the brightest bulb' because he's new to big campaigns.

sco said...

This is Standard Operating Procedure for Republicans running no-hope races. See also Talking Points Memo.

About Ryan's Take