Carson, Santorum Rev Money Machines

It’s the end of the first quarter, and candidates are dashing to collect last minute donations to shore up their campaigns and wow the media with their hauls.  Dr. Ben Carson, who has had a surprisingly strong showing in the polls lately, is no exception, and is already showcasing some impressive numbers for Q1:

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson is on track to raise $10.5 million during his first quarter as a candidate, a senior adviser said Wednesday.

Carson senior adviser Mike Murray added that the Republican’s money haul included 210,000 contributions with an average gift of $50. “We obviously set some goals internally. We’ve exceeded those goals,” Murray said.

Along with the sheer amount he has managed to raise, Carson is also reporting that “the bulk” of the donations were from small donors under $200, indicating grassroots support.

Meanwhile, 2012 runner up Rick Santorum had two pieces of good news for supporters Wednesday, announcing the launch of a new super PAC and the support of a donor vital to his success last time around:

A new super PAC is launching Wednesday to support Republican Rick Santorum’s second presidential bid, and one of his biggest financial backers said he’s planning write checks again.

Wyoming-based investor Foster Friess told USA TODAY in an email that he plans to back “Rick’s campaign financially” in 2016. Friess contributed $2.1 million to a pro-Santorum super PAC in the 2012 cycle. There’s no word yet on his financial commitment ahead of next year’s contest.

…The new super PAC, Working Again PAC, is filing its paperwork Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission, its organizers said in a news release.

Continue Reading

Pro-Common Core Group Floods Airwaves in Iowa

The Sunlight Foundation, a political transparency non-profit, reports this week that early messaging in Iowa is being dominated by the Collaborative for Student Success (CFSS), one of the country’s most vocal promoters of Common Core.  Sunlight found that the DC-based, Gates-funded CFSS has spent over $764,000 on advertising so far in the Hawkeye State, well surpassing even the most active presidential Super PACs.

The CFSS and its backers seem to be banking (quite literally) on changing Iowa voters’ opinions by trotting out retired establishment Republican officials to deliver the same, standard Common Core talking points.  For example, we reported in March on an early CFSS radio ad campaign featuring former Reagan education secretary Bill Bennett.  And Sunlight points to another ad on CFSS’s YouTube page featuring three former GOP governors singing the Common Core’s praises:

Claims that Common Core was “state-led” and that it leaves states free to form their own curricula have, of course, been debunked over and over again.  Will hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising really convince Iowa voters otherwise?  Suffice it to say, I probably wouldn’t bet on it.

Paul Dupont is a legislative assistant for American Principles in Action. Continue Reading

Will Bush Skip Iowa, New Hampshire to Avoid Common Core Questions?

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)

According to Buzzfeed, Jeb Bush has decided to skip the Iowa Straw Poll and may give up on Iowa entirely:

Jeb Bush’s decision to forego this summer’s Iowa Straw Poll has roiled many conservatives in the state, but that snub might only be the beginning: According to three sources with knowledge of Bush’s campaign strategy, the likely Republican presidential candidate does not plan to seriously contest the first-in-the-nation caucuses — and may ultimately skip the state altogether.

The Iowa Straw Poll, sponsored by the state GOP, is widely viewed as a dry run for the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential nomination contest.  Candidates have to identify their supporters and get them to the Straw Poll to cast their votes, a process that in many ways replicates the actual caucuses.

Buzzfeed further reports that:

[A] top Republican consultant and a high-level fundraiser — both of whom have been courted by the Bush camp, and requested anonymity to recount private conversations — said Bush’s advisers were explicit that the campaign would not seriously invest in Iowa during the primaries. Similarly, an operative involved in Bush’s yet-to-be-announced campaign told BuzzFeed News earlier this year that the state was a low priority.

And the political consultant attributed the decision in large part to Bush’s support for the Common Core:

Common Core has become an anchor tied around this guy’s neck… and they realize it,” said the political consultant, who met with senior Bush advisers while he was considering joining the campaign.

Continue Reading

Club For Growth Attacks Mike Huckabee

The Club for Growth sees Mike Huckabee as such a threat they are launching the 2016 season’s first negative attack ad, airing this week in Sioux City, Iowa, and Greenberg, S.C.:

The ad attacks Huckabee for raising taxes while he was governor of Arkansas.

Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at American Principles in Action.  Continue Reading

Ted Cruz Is the Primary’s First Quarter Winner

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)

If I had to pick a clear winner for the first quarter of the primary cycle, that winner would be Ted Cruz. Cruz has been able to build an organized argument based on being in the race and being well funded. This has afforded him a powerful momentum that I, quite honestly, wouldn’t have predicted a few months ago. Cruz’s messaging has been up front and based on life, religious liberty, and competent conservative economic change, which makes him an attractive conservative alternative in the race.

However, Cruz isn’t limiting himself to messaging, as he has been deftly utilizing his seat in the Senate to propose practical legislation that matches with his campaign rhetoric. Cruz’s messaging and the proposals backing it up have gained Cruz a practical advantage over Rubio, who has a populist sounding message without a concrete foundation, and Huckabee, who lacks a central argument. During my travels through Texas last month, I witnessed the dramatic degree to which Cruz has been winning the internal fundraising battle in Texas against Rick Perry. That is not to say that those candidates should be dismissed, but it demonstrates that the seriousness of the Cruz campaign hasn’t been matched.

Cruz’s strength as a conservative alternative hasn’t gone unnoticed as he’s been able to attract large donors and will be a force, from a financial perspective at least, moving forward. Cruz has also attracted the attention of several astute figures in the conservative movement, including Bob and Rebecca Mercer, which was a quiet, but nonetheless crucial, early victory. Continue Reading

Ted Cruz’s $31 Million

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Justin Haskins, editor of Chicago’s great free market think tank The Heartland Institute, is worried.  Ted Cruz has raked in an astonishing $31 million since jumping into the race, money Haskins says will turn out to be wasted:

Cruz does not have the ability to control the media the way Reagan did, and no amount of money will change that.

Whether it’s fair or not, Cruz is now damaged goods as far as presidential politics is concerned. The left-leaning media has turned him into its go-to example of everything that’s wrong with conservatives: he’s too religious, he’s not willing to compromise, and he’s too brash. In short, for all the reasons conservatives love Cruz, liberals hate him, and they’ve smeared his reputation with American moderates in their campaign to destroy a man so many on the left see as their archenemy.

Cruz’s campaign haul fundamentally changes the dynamic of “the money primary.” To compete, a candidate needs resources.  The GOP donor class, despite the repeated failures of highly paid political consultants to deliver victory, is overly influenced by the prognostications of the “smart set” on who can win this election.

Cruz is reaping the financial benefit of his politically astute decision to be first out the gate,  generating massive media coverage and a strong response by ordinary voters. But Cruz’s financial windfall also testifies that, in the era of Big Data, it pays to be smart enough to have 10 data scientists working to maximize your ROI. Continue Reading