Steve Parkhurst in Tampa Tribune About Special Elections

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District 13 campaigns must work around the holidays

By Kate Bradshaw | Tribune Staff
Published: November 29, 2013

The special election to fill the late C.W. “Bill” Young’s seat in Congress is riddled with numerous challenges for the candidates, not the least of which is having to campaign during the holidays.

The time frame for the election is likely to prove a strong dynamic in the race. Three Republicans — lobbyist and former Young aide David Jolly, state representative and former South Pasadena Mayor Kathleen Peters, and retired Marine Gen. Mark Bircher, a political newcomer — will square off in the Jan. 14 primary for the District 13 seat. The winner will face former state chief financial officer and gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink in the March 11 special election.

Not that holiday campaigning is unprecedented. Scott Brown, the former Republican senator from Massachusetts, prevailed in a January special election in 2010 to fill Ted Kennedy’s seat after his death. And presidential hopefuls trudge out to Iowa in January for the early caucuses there.

Nevertheless, campaigning during the holidays is unusual and presents candidates with distinct challenges.

It’s a time when money is scarce, schedules are tight and negative campaigning doesn’t fly. People are supposed to set their grudges aside and find common ground this time of year — even in Washington.

“Everybody’s just cordial. It’s different,” said Steve Parkhurst, a consultant with GPH Consulting, a national political consulting firm that works with Republican candidates. “You’ve got good tidings and joy and all of that going on.”

Commercials smearing another candidate could come across as tacky when sandwiched between ads thick with messages of joy and peace.

“Everybody can find something nice to say to everyone else that time of year,” Parkhurst said. “You have to have a level of sensitivity.”

That’s why candidates might be better off highlighting their own strengths rather than tearing down opponents in December.

“People aren’t paying that much attention and, I think, people find it tacky,” Chris Akins, of Akins Campaign Strategy in Tallahassee, said in an email.

“It simply isn’t the time to campaign, outside [of] heartfelt and genuine wishes for happy holidays. … For the campaigning that does occur, I generally advise to dial back the rhetoric and focus on what’s been accomplished and how it helps the community at large — policies that benefit everyone.”

Come Jan. 2, the barbs can come out, said Abby Livingston, a writer for Washington political blog Roll Call, who is covering the District 13 race. By then, though, it may be too late for candidates in the primary.

“It would be a sprint to the finish,” she said.

Especially considering that early voting in the District 13 race starts on Jan. 4.

By then, mail ballots for the primary will also be trickling in. Pinellas County Elections Supervisor Deborah Clark has been encouraging absentee voting in recent years. Absentee ballots went out to overseas and military voters Wednesday, and they go out to local absentee voters on Dec. 10.

Candidates need to have their message out to voters by the start of the year, though, Parkhurst said.

“You have to have your radio ads done, your TV ads done, and your direct mail has to be pretty much out the door by that time,” he said.

Getting the message out could also prove more difficult in the District 13 special election than it would in a normal election cycle.

For one, advertising rates during the holidays can be exorbitant, given that campaigns are often competing with major retailers for pricey commercial slots over the holidays.

Raising money for those ads can also be tough.

“It’s notoriously difficult … to raise money during this time,” Livingston said. “That’s a time when people are tight with their budgets. They’d probably prefer to give their kids something nice for Christmas rather than give a candidate money for an ad for TV. It’s a harder sell.”

Organizing fundraisers to pay for that advertising can be tough as well, but not impossible, Akins said.

“An organized fundraiser might be hard to pull off, but calling your reliable donors and meeting with small groups is certainly doable,” he said. “Essentially, I might not organize a large public fundraiser, but I’d certainly consider using a week or two right after Thanksgiving and early December to get my regulars on board and meet with prospects and keep it low-key.”

As would be true of any truncated election cycle, top contenders in the District 13 race will have strong name recognition and fundraising ability. In the cases of Jolly and Peters — with Peters having the name recognition and Jolly having the financial resources — campaigning around the holidays means reaching out directly to the right voters — except on the major holidays, when most people don’t want to hear about politics.

“Special elections are always especially impacted by turnout, or sometimes lack thereof,” said Tallahassee GOP political consultant Sarah Bascom, who is serving as the Jolly campaign’s communications director. “With this race being around the holidays, you have to microtarget and be very strategic in your outreach. I know for the Jolly campaign, it has been and will continue to be a 24/7 campaign, and no stone will go unturned.”

The original story can be found here.

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The Invisible Anti-War Left

By Joe Gruters

Everything is upside down and backwards for Democrats from 2003, and it screams of management incompetence at the top and philosophic corruption on the Left.

Recall that in 2001 and in 2003, President Bush requested and received Congressional approval for the wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq. We did not find the WMD that every nation said was there — which has since colored the Iraq war — but it was 100% constitutional and legal.

Code Pink, Cindy Sheehan, Michael Moore and the rest of the Left cast howled about Bush’s illegal war. U.S. Sen. Barack Obama inveighed against the Iraq surge — which turned out to be wildly successful — and questioned the legality of the war.

Fast forward. President Obama ordered U.S. military forces to attack Libya last year in support of insurgents there wanting to overthrow Col. Muammar Gaddafi. He did so under the NATO umbrella, but without Congressional approval, albiet by “leading from behind,” according to a spokesman.

So far the results have been an apparent Al-Quaida takeover of Libya and the Benghazi slaughter — and following coverup — of our Ambassador to Libya.

The response from the Dixie Chicks anti-war Left that bleated constantly about Bush’s illegal war? Nothing. Quiet as mice.

Now Obama is planning again to order the military to intervene in the Middle East with some sort of strike against Syrian dictator Assad. More than 100,000 people have died in Syria’s civil war and we did not propose acting. But 100 die from a chemical attack and we are planning a military strike. Obama’s reckless comments about a red line put him in the position of using the military to save face, which is just wrong.

And again, Obama feels no compunction to get any approval or consent from Congress. He may back off after Britain’s Prime Minister was rebuffed in a vote of Parliament — yes, the country we broke away from to create our democracy had a vote on their countrymen going to war.

The response from the traditional, college-kid anti-war Left? Nothing. Everything is fine — except forgive all my loans!

Candidate Obama railed against Gitmo and promised to close it because Code Pink and Hollywood the rest of the anti-war left were screaming (laughably) about the abuses and illegalities there. Well, Gitmo is still open because Obama has seen the very obvious need for it. Basically, Bush was right.

And the anti-war Left that heckled Bush relentlessly? Crickets. It’s there guy, so it’s OK. That’s ideological corruption.

What little credibility any of those folks may have had is long gone. They are philosophically weak partisans rooting for their team and against Republicans. And that’s the depth of it. It’s just a shame the media gives them any air time, because they are vacuous.

It’s hard to know what they really believe. Sure, they generally want more government control, higher taxes, weaker laws for criminals, racial strife, welfare dependency, mothers and doctors free to kill unborn babies, a centrally planned economy and making the institution of marriage meaningless. But they will cave anytime for political gain.

This is what most of us conservatives refuse to do. We call our leadership when it travels non-conservative routes and demand an explanation. We make full use of the First Amendment and even go after incumbent officeholders sometimes. If we elect them based on conservative promises and they break those promises, we don’t meekly stay quiet.

It’s why the media thinks it is always seeing division and strife in the Republican Party. It’s because we are full of vibrant ideas and deeply held values and if Mr. Smith goes to Washington and becomes part of the system of destructive, rights-denying big government, we seek someone else to represent the cause of freedom.

This may at times appear to hurt us in a political moment, but it makes us stronger at the core in the long run. Because if we don’t retain our principles…then never mind

It’s obvious, we still do.

Thanks for being informed and engaged.

Proud Sponsor of Forum This Saturday

We are proud to be sponsoring the grassroots forum in Houston on Saturday being hosted by the Federation of Hispanic Republicans.

We are excited for people to hear the discussions and dialogue that is planned. The Republican party is making gains in connecting with the community locally, but this needs to be a widespread movement. As Jack Kemp used to say, ‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.’  The Federation of Hispanic Republicans is leading the way in bridging that gap. And this forum, with its great lineup, should be evidence of that.

If you are in Houston, stop in and enjoy some of the panels, the entire event is free and will include food and drinks.

FHR Grassroots Forum 2013 GPH Consulting

Be sure to also follow @FederationHR on twitter and the hashtag #FHRforum on Saturday for updates.

The Liberty Amendments, Mark Levin, and GPH Consulting

Mark Levin, in his latest book The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic has cast a bright light on an aspect of the Constitution that has never been utilized before; Article V. Not to be confused with the Fifth Amendment. For reference, Article V reads this way:

Article V GPH Consulting

Levin uses chapter one (read for free) of his book to describe the processes that Article V advocates. To be clear, this is not an easy process. Levin had said as much, as we agree with him. But, there also may not be an alternative, and there may not be enough time left to wait for “plan B.”

As Ronald Reagan liked to say, and we like to say today, The Time Is Now.

The Time Is Now - GPH Consulting

We are here, as a political consulting firm, to facilitate the liberty-minded campaigns of those who seek to pursue this road. We are looking for candidates for state representative, state assembly, state senate and the like (as some states have varying names) to run in 2014 on the grassroots ideas that Levin has presented, along with the similar thinking of The Coolidge Project. It takes We The People, it takes a grassroots army, to affect change at this level.

We The People - GPH Consulting

One neighborhood, one community, one precinct, one person at a time.

We must also specify here that we are not necessarily advocating for the eleven amendments that Levin proposed in the book. What we are specifically advocating is the return to what our friends at The Coolidge Project refer to as (f)ederalism. A state level movement where the people of each state slowly rein back powers that the federal government has taken upon itself.

Again, as Levin has pointed out many times, this is not easy work. The change needed will not happen overnight, it will not happen in one election cycle. This is a liberty movement. It takes time. We have been here to help and we will continue to be here during this struggle to push back against the leviathan. If 2014 is not right for you, perhaps 2015 and 2016 is better. We are here to help you begin the work now, as there are ways to prepare and groundwork to be laid.

Political campaigns are difficult, but they should not be, especially if you’re waging a campaign on ideas. There are effective things you can do, and ineffective things: you need to know which is which. That’s why we are here. We can help train candidates and fine-tune their message.

Looking around our website will show you we are not more of the same. We are different from other consulting firms. We want the hard races, we want the challenges. Candidates willing to go door-to-door advocating freedom, liberty and the real American dream – that is what we are looking for.

Are you that person? Do you know someone who is? If you answer yes to either of these, it’s time we talk.

Governor Scott Is On The Rise

By Joe Gruters

Not even relentlessly negative media coverage is stopping Floridians from seeing the tangible value of having Rick Scott for governor.

A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that Scott’s approval rating continuing to grow by hitting an all-time high of 43%, up steadily from the low of 29% in 2011. His approval and disapproval ratings are essentially even now.

While his opponents paint his re-election as a steep uphill battle, his approval ratings are flowing against that narrative. It was his unpopularity driving those speculations. But he is popularity keeps rising, and probably will continue to.

It’s not surprising. Scott was elected to grow the economy and keep state government living within its means. He kept both promises with tough and unpopular spending cuts in the first year, coupled with tax cuts that he then used to go out and pitch the state.

He has worked tirelessly, personally calling CEOs around the country to pitch Florida’s economic and quality of life benefits while going abroad on trade missions to our best trade partners in South America and Europe.

The result?

Jobs up, taxes down, state debt down and Floridians better off. It’s that simple.

Moody Investor Services rated Florida Aa1 with a stable outlook even though it “was one of hardest hit states in the recent recession, with unemployment spiking to 11.4%.” Unemployment is now down to 7.1%, a half of a percentage point below the national average, which was lower than Florida’s when Scott came into office.

The report gives Florida high marks for its fiscal discipline.

According to Moody’s Analytics, Florida’s 2013 employment growth is expected to increase 1.9% — again, far surpassing the national rate of 1.3%.

In the past two years, Scott has paid down $2 billion of Florida’s debt, nearly half of what former Gov. Charlie Crist ran up as governor. This is the first time in nearly 30 years that Florida has reduced its debt in back to back years and no one doubts that he will reduce it again this year. That lightens the burden on all hard-working Floridians, who now have the fourth lowest debt per person in the nation.

So the burden of government on average Floridians is reduced. More jobs are available and the expectation for far more jobs coming is offered by objective outsiders such as Moody’s.

These things don’t happen accidentally or all on their own. The are the result of strong, principled, conservative leadership.

It is no wonder that with 17 months before election day, Democrats have no serious opponents lined up yet to run against Scott. There will be no easy pickings here.

However, the Democrats will eventually coalesce around someone and it will become a huge fight. Because not only is the governor’s mansion up for grabs, but Florida is a bellwether state for the nation.

We cannot let anyone make the case that Florida is a blue state. It must remain red and then vote conservative for president in 2016. That starts with the 2014 governor’s race.

We must continue to make the case for conservatism and a conservative governor, for the good of our state and for the good of the country.

Thanks for being informed and engaged.

Senator Rand Paul Profiled By New Republic

New Republic GPH Consulting

By Steve Parkhurst

Leftist rag, New Republic (which loosely translated into the original German means “Sieg Heil!”) has run a cover story this week on Senator Rand Paul. While the writer clearly tried to paint a negative picture of Senator Paul, I think the article will only help Rand Paul with those on the Right.

My favorite part of the piece is this attempt to show Senator Paul as a radical in the Senate, via his authoring of legislation:

He wrote legislation in his own, Paulian way. He introduced a budget that would have eviscerated the Departments of Transportation, Energy, State, and Commerce; the Environmental Protection Agency; the Food and Drug Administration; and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It would have entirely defunded the Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Government Printing Office. His amendment to the Parental Consent Act warned that psychiatrists might “label a person’s disagreement with the psychiatrist’s political beliefs a mental disorder.” He authored a bill to legalize interstate traffic in unpasteurized milk. One amendment would have nullified the congressional authorization to invade Iraq; another sought “to end mailbox use monopoly.” He also offered a triad of bills intended to make senators more diligent: the Read the Bills Act, the Write the Laws Act, and the One Subject at a Time Act. None of these measures made it to a vote. When the Foreign Relations Committee introduced a bill condemning North Korea’s nuclear tests, Paul insisted on language explicitly stating that it didn’t authorize the use of force. McCain was livid: The act was already nonbinding, and he felt Paul was mocking the process.

To all of that I say “Right on!” So the radicals on the Left, including moderate Leftists like John McCain get their feathers ruffled a bit. Good! Their go-along-to-get-along approach landed this country in the mess it’s in, time for a little sorting out. By my count, that is six departments totally gone, and seven more “eviscerated” (I love that word with relation to federal departments).

Keep on keepin’ on Senator Paul. A run in 2016 may be in the cards, and more articles like this one are sure to help you.

The Stark Reality If Republicans Do Not Change

By Steve Parkhurst

Lloyd Green writes an interesting piece here for The Daily Beast.  While many are taking the opportunity to offer a vision for the Republican Party, and many of the opinions start to look the same or reach the same conclusions, this quote offers what I think is a good, specific result if the Republican Party does not change.

You would have to read the entire post to get this full context, so ignore the names:

If Gohmert, Bryant, and Erickson have their way, the Republican’s modernity deficit will further congeal and fester, with the GOP relegated, at best, to a congressional party, one that specializes in oversight hearings and impeachment trials but not one actually tasked by America to govern.

Quoted About Job Prospects For College Graduates

By Steve Parkhurst

I was recently interviewed by a writer for CollegeStats.org about job prospects for college graduates in a few years down the road. The Congressional Budget Office and the International Monetary Fund are both speculating about an economic recovery a few years from now. Not coincidentally, the reports suggest that the best economic growth is expected after a new President is sworn in on January 20, 2017.

Anyhow, here is the excerpt that quotes me, and here is the full article, which is well worth a look.

 

CollegeStats.org Steve Parkhurst GPH Consulting

The Happy State of College Graduates Steve Parkhurst GPH Consulting

SAP: Big Data And The 2016 US Presidential Election

By Steve Parkhurst

I was recently interviewed for this piece by business and IT writer Debra Donston-Miller about Big Data and 2016. I’ll have more to say about the subject soon enough, but for now, enjoy this article.

 

SAP Forbes logo GPH Consulting

Big Data And The 2016 US Presidential Election

By Debra Donston-Miller, May 7, 2013

If big data was something of a secret weapon during the presidential election of 2012, it promises to loom large as we run up to 2016.

There’s no doubt that big data is playing an increasingly big role in business, politics, healthcare, education, retail and numerous other industries. With the right tools and expertise, organizations can slice and dice data to reveal trends and other information that will inform decisions about future strategy and direction.

“[Big data] is the idea that we are finally able to do with a huge body of data things that were impossible to achieve when working with smaller amounts, to uncover to new insight and create new forms of economic value,” said Kenneth Cukier, co-author with Viktor Mayer-Schönberger of “Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think,” and data editor of The Economist. “So, for example, the reason we have self-driving cars or very good computer translation is not because of improvements in processors or algorithms, though they are useful, but because we have vastly more data from which the computer can calculate the probability that a traffic light is red and not green, or which a word in one language is a suitable substitute for a word in another.”

During the 2012 election, big data was used to great advantage—namely, by Barack Obama, in his re-election campaign.

A November 2012 article in Time magazine, “Inside the Secret World of the Data Crunchers Who Helped Obama Win, reported, “Data-driven decision making played a huge role in creating a second term for the 44th President and will be one of the more closely studied elements of the 2012 cycle. … In politics, the era of big data has arrived.”

Cukier said campaigns have always been run on information, but in 2012 big data helped optimize that information and activities around it.

“Obama’s data scientists made pioneering innovations on applying big data to politics,” said Cukier. ”They learned through testing what the optimal sum was when requesting a donation. Every piece of promotional literature online and offline is tested before it goes live at scale. They micro target down to subgroups of the population that were otherwise not picked up by campaigns in the past because it was hard to get granular information on those groups and what moved them to vote a certain way. As a result, campaigns try to tailor their activities down the seemingly ‘individual’ level — not  broad, lumpy categories like the ‘soccer moms’ used in Clinton’s campaigns in the 1990s.”

The role of big data will only increase in the 2016 presidential election, with practitioners using technology to hone in on data much more granularly than ever before. In addition, say experts, the use of big data will overlap with social media and other platforms.

“For the 2016 presidential election, we can expect big data to play a much more central role than ever before,” said Cukier. “[We’ll see] micro-targeting of individuals and narrow subgroups of the population, tailored messages over social media platforms, instant feedback loops to the campaign about what works and what doesn’t to move voters, and data collected from the private sector to build predictive models of what works best for fundraising, activating the base of supporters and the get-out-the-vote activities.”

Pay attention to some of the hotly contested issues and the preparation for 2014 Senate elections, and you will see big data at work and a preview of what’s to come in 2016.

“There will be data testing in the run-up to 2014,” said Steve Parkhurst, political consultant, GPH Consulting. “There have already been debates this year on issues like the sequester, the Second Amendment and immigration, for example, and I’m sure the big data databases are filling up with usable data. The data drill-down is no doubt tracking where voters are looking and what those voters are saying, especially online.”

All of this is not to say that the process will be easy. Analysis of big data is a highly complex task, and at this point in time it requires a very specialized—and often expensive–skill set.

“Not just everyone can set up a big data shop,” said Parkhurst. “The people who are really good at it are going to charge a premium price.”

Luckily, technology providers are heeding the call for products and services that can tame the big data beast. Indeed, said Cukier, two of the biggest barriers to big data are narrow thinking and a dearth of leadership.

“The only real obstacle is one of mindset,” said Cukier. “We need to think creatively about what we can do with the data and how important it is. It takes both ingenuity and leadership.”

Lowry: Where Is Today’s Jack Kemp?

Rich Lowry has written an important column at National Review Online. He covers the RNC and asks a question we have been asking here: Where is today’s Jack Kemp?

Here are the parts you need to know:

The harsh assessment of the RNC “autopsy” committee would be that it talked to 2,600 people, yet one of its top proposals is reviving a minority inclusion council from the 1990s. It takes months of research to come up with this stuff?

But that would be too harsh. The autopsy is a good-faith effort to stare the Republican predicament straight in the face.

The RNC autopsy has stirred up another round in an intraparty debate that is yeasty and entertaining, and will surely prove largely irrelevant to the Republican future.

One facet of that ongoing debate is the fight between the grassroots and the establishment over Senate primaries, which has been raging for months and got more fuel when speakers at the annual conservative gathering, the Conservative Political Action Conference, savaged the Republican consultant class. Rarely has so much heat been generated with so little light.

Consider Ted Cruz of Texas, whose smarts and fearlessness are making him the most dangerous man in the U.S. Senate. He proves that you can be anti-establishment — he ran a grassroots insurgency in his Republican primary — and yet talented and electable.

And so much depends on substance. No “rebranding” will make a difference if Republican policy is not relevant to people’s lives. What the party desperately needs more than different marketing or new consultants are a few Jack Kemps, political entrepreneurs willing to ignore orthodoxies and evangelize for new ideas.

Kemp did his most important work as a backbencher in the House. Where is his equivalent today? Two possible Republican contenders in 2016 have demonstrated some of his entrepreneurial spirit. No committee ever would have come up with the idea for Rand Paul’s filibuster. It showed gumption and creativity, and it caught people’s imagination. But it was in a cause — preventing drone attacks on U.S. citizens — that is not pertinent to the everyday life of anyone not on the run in Yemen.

For his part, Rubio has begun to talk about college affordability, an issue that should be part of a new conservative agenda aimed at concrete middle-class concerns. All the action, though, is around Rubio’s other cause of comprehensive immigration reform.

The Republican party can study itself to death, but without some Jack Kemps, it will remain in its current stasis for the duration.

This is another reminder that there is a Jack Kemp Project forthcoming from us here at GPH Consulting. Be sure you’re on the list to be notified first about what’s going on.

Jack Kemp Project QR Code GPH Consulting