Going After Blue Dogs: A Question for You

by: Matt Stoller

Mon Aug 13, 2007 at 22:07

I've been kicking around the idea with Chris that we should raise the costs of bad decision-making on things like FISA, or when they fold to Republicans on the supplemental or (insert fight here).

It's not much to put up some google ads criticizing these members for their position on FISA.  The way Google adwords works is that the ad will only show up for the search terms we select.  That means that if we select 'Chris Carney', then people searching for Chris Carney (PA-04) will see an ad criticizing Chris Carney for his vote on FISA.  And the people who are searching for Chris Carney are people who want to know more about Carney, like reporters, activists, and constituents.  We can even geotarget his state, so only people in Pennsylvania see the ad. 

It'll probably run around $100-150 per member for a six month period, which is the amount of time until the law must be reauthorized. 

Would you put a bit of money and effort to go after these wayward Democrats?  We can't replace all of them with progressive Democrats, but we can certainly annoy at least a few of them and raise the costs for voting against the Constitution. 

Aside from money, this will take some work, since we'll have to get posts written about each member that did this.  It's not worth doing unless you'd support it.  So if you think this is a good idea, put it in the comments or send me an email at stoller at gmail.com.  We need support in one of two ways.  One, you could throw in a few bucks for this.  Two, you could write up a problem Democrat, on this blog or on your own site, and we'd use that as the Google ad advertised link.  Let me know if you'd be willing to do either.

Matt Stoller :: Going After Blue Dogs: A Question for You

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Would you put a bit of money and effort to go after these wayward Democrats? (4.00 / 1)

That is perhaps the only campaign I would contribute to.  With the long-term voter preference trend indicating a broad shift to the Democratic Party, the real struggle will be within the Democratic Party.  The same people who corrupted the Republican Party are corrupting congressmen of the Democratic Party.  Unless the progressives can demonstrate that they can hurt as well as help, they will not be able to influence policy decisions.

I'd throw in a small amount of money (0.00 / 0)
$10-20.  But maybe if you get enough people that is worthwhile.

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.

Yes, but... (4.00 / 2)
I don't necessarily think we have to view this as having to "defeat" them, or at least not most of them.  In MN Amy Klobuchar is one offender of this whole thing, and we hope to question her, put some pressure on her and try and see why the hell she made this choice. 

My point is, it is not always about electoral winning or losing, but rather keeping the pressure on them so maybe they will understand that votes like this are unacceptable.

I just want to know what the hell they were [are] thinking.  If they are too far gone, then yes - they should go...

-jason The UpTake

I don;t think this project is about beating them in an election (0.00 / 0)
It's just the cost of raising their negatives so that they'll start to feel less comfortable with their blue dog stances.

Who's the head pf the Blue Dogs?  Remember it's like a club. They have to apply, they have to vote certain ways on certain bills or they don't get to stay Blue Dogs.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
Howard Fineman on Olbermann says Bush won (0.00 / 0)
He says Bush won because the Democrats don't have the guts to rollback some of the things Bush did.  From taxcuts to th surge to leaving Iraq.

At the very least the 11 of the 41 netroots supported Democrats should hear from us, because theoretically the netroots still should matter to them.

The Blue Dogs surely never hear from anyone on the left.  Those pieces have to be very sensitive to their regions and it's preferable that they be written by someone from there.  Maybe post on Dkos for folks from those districts.

In NY there have got to be some progressives from Buffalo.
But folks like Tim Walz, well the net raised him a lot of money, he should know folks are mighty ubhappy.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

Not sure (0.00 / 0)
Heaven knows I'm outspoken when it comes to people like Bean and other Blue Dogs. But my first thought is what unexpected negative affects this might have.

In a primary one can argue the merits of one candidate over another quite savagely, and only the base really notices. Plus one is arguing for a replacement from within the party, hence not that insinuating that the Democratic party is the problem.

I would be concerned that random Google ads would help the Republican cause by making us look less united as a party as we would be essentially complaining or raising awareness of intra-party issues. Fighting between mom and dad is fine at home, but not in public, so to speak.

I like the idea in theory, but feel a lack of providing an alternative - specifically a Democratic alternative - might have a larger downside.

Maybe a more roughed out concept would help me understand how this would be approached.

If teaching is so easy, then by all means get your degree, pass your certification test(s), get your license, and see if you can last longer than the five years in the classroom 50% of those who enter the profession never make it to.

Try newspaper ads (4.00 / 1)
Google ads are unsexy.  Just because we like blogs, let's not get carried away with a rah-rah internet attitude. Narrow your focus and localize your target.

Let's be honest here.  When you say "raise the cost" for bad decisions, what you really mean is threaten their political careers.  And if you don't mean that, you're not being serious enough.  Take a page from the Club for Growth playbook.

Pick the five congressmen who are considered the most vulnerable for re-election.  Take out large newspaper ads in their hometowns.  You may want to make a shortlist of ten targets and pick the five (or maybe three) with the cheapest hometown paper advertising rates.  Encourage people to write it up on blogs and solicit donations for further ads.

Do it right and there's a chance you might get some free national media mentions to further the cause.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

hitting influentials (0.00 / 0)
Realistically, we don't have the money for newspaper ads, nor is it clear to me that they are particularly effective except to scream out 'I have money!'  That's a useful message, but since we don't actually have money, it doesn't apply to us.

When you say "raise the cost" for bad decisions, what you really mean is threaten their political careers.  And if you don't mean that, you're not being serious enough.  Take a page from the Club for Growth playbook.

Actually, there are many ways to change political environments, and a bit of criticism can actually have an impact especially against lazy politicians.  There is more to politics than a big hammer, though again, I love to go after bad Dems in primaries.  In fact, Al Wynn and Joe Lieberman were two of my big targets last cycle, so I do have some credibility and experience on this score.

[ Parent ]
am interested (4.00 / 2)
Don't get me wrong, I do want more primaries and I will work to that end. 

[ Parent ]
a primary battle is (0.00 / 0)
obviously, much more expensive than any amount of advertising we could do.

I truly think we need to start working on building up funding to establish our own lobbying arm. 

Its expensive, but we need to start thinking about how to exert the influence we have gained in Washington.

Running around threatening to primary ever Congressman who votes in a manner we don't like is only going to work for so long.  And we do need people to run in a primary.

Same with running embarrassing ads, which could backfire in the first place.  It could increase dissatisfaction with the work of a congressperson in a tough swing district, and ultimately help a republican running against him or her. 

But, in the mean time, have we fully explored newspaper advertising?  I would think a quarter page ad on a weekday would have a bigger impact than a 3 or 6 month run in google ads. 

Here's a link to the Daily Herald ad rates.  The DH is the main daily in Melissa Bean's district.  http://www.dailyhera...

[ Parent ]
It's about the spectre of future hammers (4.00 / 1)
The Howard Dean campaign opened up people's eyes to the netroots as a potential cash source.  You don't have money now, but showing the ability to target a few people with more expensive newspaper ads for the same cost as Google ads for all of the people you tagged and funding that from netroots presents the scary possibility that you have the ability to raise more money at a future date for even more.  Even if you're not explicitly antagonistic, you're presenting at least a veiled threat to make someone the next Lieberman.  Maybe this falls under Hillary Clinton's category of things you think but shouldn't say out loud, but it's the truth.

It also goes along with running a more financially transparent netroots lobbying infrastructure that will one day be running television advocacy ads.  Now, we may start with Google ads, but the bigger picture is the integration of old and new media, not replacement of the old with the new.

Of course, I'm operating under the impression that the politicians I disagree with are generally not lazy, but also not evil or naive or stupid.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

[ Parent ]
Why Not Be Strategic? A Triple Threat Approach (4.00 / 3)
It makes good sense to take out Goodle Ads, because these reach high-information people--or at least those actually seeking out information--as well as being visible to the netroots base.  But Anthony has a good point in terms of where the impact is.

So here's my suggestion:  Run the Google ads, and use them to raise money for newspaper ads.  Then run the newspaper ads in the run-up to the next FISA vote, when they can actually move people to take action and put pressure on their representatives.

There's enough folks with money online that seeing the Google ads can be a powerful selling point to raise money for newspaper blitz.  Plus, it's quite possible we could get insitutional help in raising money for the newspaper ads, if we get things rolling with the Google Ads.

Finally, what about putting up YouTube shorts as well?  There's nothing like a multi-media approach to generate notice.  Put it together into a tight package, and you'll get some buzz just for doing something like that for the first time.

We could take it even further by working with local bloggers to stage some demonstrations in synch with when the ads come out, and also see about getting local media coverage.

This may sound like a lot of work, but with nearly 6 months to work with, it's not really that much.  Pulling it all off in one week, yeah, that would drive you crazy.  But with this sort of lead time, there's plenty of time to plant seeds and spread the work around.

The point is, it really says something to make a serious, professional effort, even if it is on a shoestring.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Good idea (0.00 / 0)
I'd put up money for this.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
fight by the district (4.00 / 1)
For example, I don't like Bill Kennedy who will probably be the nominee for MT-AL, but I'll take a third "Montana Miracle" no matter what it takes.

Let's get rid of the Blue Dog/DLC losers where we can guarantee we can do better.

On twitter: @BobBrigham

Right (0.00 / 0)
Ideally the targets would be the one's who voted yes on the FISA bill and are from the most liberal districts (based on Bush's % in 2004). 

The top 6 would be:

Jim Cooper TN-05 
Jim Costa CA-20 
Artur Davis AL-07 
Brian Higgins NY-27 
Daniel Lipinski IL-03 
Charles A. Wilson OH-06

Looks like Stoller already covered Higgins.  I'll gladly take Costa.  I've got some other research going on him, i.e., he appears to oppose net neutrality.

The Seminal :: Independent Media and Politics

[ Parent ]
Lipinski absolutely (0.00 / 0)
I like the list. I commented about Lipinski in the Higgins diary. For the short list that you compiled I see very little reason for the Reps. to be voting the way they do. Clearly there needs to be some pressure for them to move to the left. Outside of a credible third party or primary challenge there is little.

[ Parent ]
Better Alternatives (0.00 / 0)
Why single out someone like Carney (PA-10, which you list incorrectly as PA-04 in the main article) whose District is R+8 and is seeking re-election as a freshman?

Here are two options that make more pragmatic sense:

Idea A

Why not focus that same money, time, and energy lobbying members in more Democratic districts where you will (1) likely have more success and (2) not help elect a Republican over an economically progressive Democratic freshman like Carney?

Just as an example, take a look at the PVI of districts just listed by joashnelson:

Jim Cooper TN-05 D+6
Jim Costa CA-20 D+5
Artur Davis AL-07 D+17
Brian Higgins NY-27 R+5
Daniel Lipinski IL-03 D+13
Charles A. Wilson OH-06 D+0

Note: Carney's District, PA-10, went to Bush 60-40 in 2004. What kind of Republican would replace Democrats who are holding seats like that?

Idea B

Why not focus that same money, time, and energy on electing progressive Dems in current republican-held districts like PA-06 (Gerlach)?

[ Parent ]
Great idea Matt! (0.00 / 0)
I would be willing to put a little cash down and write one of the posts.  Actually, I'll get on that now.

The Seminal :: Independent Media and Politics

Too Cheap to pass up (4.00 / 1)
You can't lose for $200 /loserBlue Dog.

The influence will be difficult to measure. But I will guarantee you that the Congressman/Congresswoman's staff will see these ads more than anybody.


And if we get any free media on the campaign, it's paid for in spades.  You can't lose on this.

Matt gets a Kewpie Doll For Kreativity.

[ Parent ]
One or two, but not all (0.00 / 0)
I think it may be better to go after one or two of the most serious offenders (was there a particular Dem who led the Blue Dogs to this vote?) to make an example of them.  If we put such a little amount of pressure on so many people, it might just go unnoticed.

John McCain <3 lobbyists

Great idea (0.00 / 0)
Would be willing to give to a cause like this, and donate time to draw more in.

The FISA vote was dis-heartening, and I think something like this would strike a cord with a large group of people feeling a bit helpless.  Give us all an immediate cause to rally around, and a reminder to some that even if they caved in, we don't have to.

Shameless Blog Plug: The SideTrack

Oh man... (0.00 / 0)
Come on Matt!!!  I'm trying to save for a wedding...  a house... a new TV... but you keep coming up with new ways to motivate me parting with my paycheck.  Anyways...  I pledge 50$ to the first group of people we hit that don't understand the constitution.  If there's a second ad buy I'll pledge another 25$.

One more thing, when you do the google ad buy.  Please be sure to tell everyone to NOT click them(searching them, and looking at them is fine).  If all us readers do that, then the Ad money will run out fast and end being a pointless exercise.

Our Dime Understanding the U.S. Budget

Worthy effort (0.00 / 0)
I'm in for $75 or $100. Awesome idea.

John Kerry's Non Vote Attitude (4.00 / 1)
Hey Matt,

Count me in for at least what you have asked even if, my opponent, John Kerry's NON vote is not targeted.

John Kerry left the Senate to attend festivities related to a charity bike ride the day following the vote.  Senator Kerry could have voted AND done the bike ride, but he didn't want to miss the opportunity to be recognized for his efforts and the consequent photo ops and television coverage.  A worker among workers, he is not. I have called upon Senator Kerry to explain in detail his absence from the Senate at O'Reilly calls upon Kerry to explain his whereabouts on the FISA vote.

There were actually two votes the evening of August 3rd in the Senate and John Kerry missed both.  Senators Rockefeller and Levin should be given credit for working on an alternative proposal that was defeated after the Republican proposal was approved.  I wrote more in depth in the following link Ed O'Reilly Open Left Post

The vote in the Senate was only one vote short of a filibuster being threatened.  In the case of Senator Kerry, it is not the vote as much as it is a problem with attitude.  This was one of the most important votes of the term and he skipped out early without contributing a bit while other Democratic Senators worked to protect the Constitution.

Of course, Senator Feingold was at the forefront again saying even the Democratic proposal didn't go far enough.

I am running as a progressive Democrat because ideas without passion are dead.  Let's change the culture of politics as usual.

Ed O'Reilly
Democratic Candidate for the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts

I'm in for $10... (0.00 / 0)
...and I'm a grad student, so my enthusiasm level is more like $40!

Kicking it in the NY-25.

Love the idea, will put cash (0.00 / 0)
though how much is always the question.  I think I saw a 100/mo suggestion?  Too rich for me, I could do 20/50 over the course of a campaign. 

Also, a suggestion.  Make it an official program and structure it the way most fundraising campaigns do.  Have named levels of giving and put some 'benefits' on them.  I'd consciously slag the Bush ranger/pioneer labels.

Maybe an insect theme - Black fly, Greenhead, Wasp, hornet.
Or a proud lib theme - damn liberal, defeatist, surrender monkey, DFH

Another note about google ads too.  When we target an individual we potentially get into an arms-race with them where the price to keep an ad in the top five becomes prohibitive. 

Since google ads are a no-reserve auction (or close to it) there might(?) be an argument to be made for an inverted strategy.  Instead of targeting narrowly - buying into what becomes a sellers market - we simply suck up all the space where space is cheap.  Buy whenever, wherever and against whoever we can if we can get an ad in the top-five for our very low ceiling price.

I think the value of this would be that all the players out there who are voting for things like FISA would have to THINK about it.  If we take on Higgins and not Carney, Carney puts that problem out of his head and counts himself a Rovian genius for ignoring the netroots.  In a perverse sense, his strategy of voting for FISA is validated.

Just a thought. 

I'm willing to do both! (0.00 / 0)
contact me at:


Put 'Attention A.Citizen' in the subject line.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

Back to Childhood (0.00 / 0)
I feel the same outrage and despair as when I was young and watching the Dixiecrats decimate every (even faintly)liberal bill. Put me down for $50 a month.

Absolutely! (0.00 / 0)
I think this is a great idea.  Is there a way to target Pelosi and Reid as well?  They're as responsible for the caving as any of the Blue Dogs who voted to shred even further our poor, tired, huddled Constitution yearning to be free. And to coordinate this with any local groups in each district?

Having said that, I don't have the time right now for anything (although 6 months from now I probably will), but I can certainly throw in some money. Are you talking about a one shot contribution or a monthly one? I thought it was one shot, but from reading the comments, it seems some people think you mean monthly.

I'd do it (0.00 / 0)
  This is at the very least worth pursuing.


"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

I'd like to see Webb and McCaskill targeted. (0.00 / 0)
I contributed to both of them, but every time it comes to the crunch, they vote in direct contradiction to what they campaigned on. I'd make an effort to at least match what I gave them in the last election.  If you restrict the approach to Blue dogs, I would go in once for $50., but after that I'd want to see the ads before continuing. 

Above comment (0.00 / 0)
Sorry, I guess that didn't sound real serious when I stated talking about Senators when you were discussing Congressional campaigns.  Those two do torque me off, though.  So let me revise me comment by saying I'm in for the first round.

I'm in, too. (0.00 / 0)
I could put in $25 (maybe twice) for this type of thing.

I really like the idea of you guys setting up some patterns for direct action, rather than just us netroots folks contributing more money to be spent in "traditional media." That's why I've liked the google bombs, viral YouTube clips, etc. Keep it in the family. ;-)

ec=-8.50 soc=-8.41   (3,967 Watts)

Do we already have an example of what has worked? (0.00 / 0)
I live in CA-10.  Hasn't Tauscher's voting performance improved since there was a continuing discussion of a primary challenge for her seat (and putting aside the stupid fumble on the question of impeachment of Gonzalez)?

Count me in for this.

One other idea (0.00 / 0)
I'm not a graphics person, but a while back, I had the following jpg's made.  Seems to me that images with negative connotations could easily be done similar to the images at the link below were done with positive connotations.  Not just text, in other words, but negative caricatures that can be linked to and spread by blog, by email...  You get the picture.

So, a congressman and his/her staff find themselves looking at a picture of the congressman's face nicely positioned in some image with negative import portraying the congressman's support for warrantless wiretapping or....

House Reps are not used to seeing negative caricatures of themselves related to specific issues.  I had these made up for something like $10 to $15 per.  Would be happy to do again for this effort and foot bill for the number (5-6) that we're talking about.



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