Tags: gop | pac | union

New GOP PAC Aims to Take on Obama's Union Forces

Wednesday, 25 Apr 2012 09:00 PM

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A new Republican super PAC aims to put boots on the ground in key states in a bold effort to offset big labor’s massive funding of democrats in state elections. Unions hope to spend $450 million this year influencing elections, but the new PAC will battle that war chest with door-to-door canvassing, phone banks, poll workers, and get-out-the vote operations.

The effort by the Republican Union PAC is in contrast to the other super PACs and groups backing the GOP that are primarily relying on radio and television ads to oppose President Barack Obama and other Democrats, the Washington Post reported.

Bo Harmon, one of the founders of Republican Union, explained that the goal of the PAC is “to help Republican candidates by providing boots on the ground grassroots operations in targeted states.” He said that the Republican Union has begun fundraising operations to pay for travel and lodging of conservative activists willing to travel for anywhere from a few days to a few months to provide grassroots campaign support.

“Organizers found that local volunteer participation is often difficult because people have work, family and other obligations, leaving time for grassroots volunteering at a sporadic minimum,” he told Newsmax.

“Deployed volunteers, those who live in another area or state coming in for a few days to a few weeks specifically to help the campaign effort, have no other obligations during that time and are able to spend all day helping with volunteer activity. Those volunteers are often the most engaged and motivated as well and their enthusiasm is persuasive to undecided voters.

“’If someone is willing to give us a week or more of their time as a volunteer, we will cover their basic expenses’ is the essence of the group’s pitch to activists around the country who may be interested in travelling to a battleground state to be in the middle of electing the next President and determining which party holds the balance of power in Congress.”

Republican Union is the brainchild of three veteran political operatives: Harmon, who managed field and political operations for Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich and ran voter targeting and voter contact operations for McCain-Palin 2008; Patrick Davis, a political consultant who worked on Senate, House and gubernatorial campaigns and in 2004 was the executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee; and Jamie Brazil, who served as a senior consultant to Bill Clinton during his presidential campaigns as well as for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 run.

The group’s plan to counter unions is ambitious. Recent reports, including one in The Washington Post, reveal that big labor hopes to match the $450 million spent in 2008 with the usual suspect of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and the National Education Association leading the charge.

“There are so many different ways to go at voters, but at some point what’s really going to matter is who’s in your network, who’s in your community, and who do you trust?” Carrie Pugh, campaign manager for the 3.2 million-member NEA told the Post. “We are banking on our members.”

Labor unions also believe that the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission freed them up to reach out beyond union members to regular citizens and urge them to vote for specific candidates.

“It’s always been the bread and butter of labor that we had our ground game, but this really expands the possibilities,” Eddie Vale, a spokesman for Workers’ Voice, told the Post. The group is a super PAC started by the AFL-CIO to focus on grass-roots organizing.

Folks at Republican Union are well aware of the power of the unions.

“It is the Democratic unions who have provided the manpower for door to door campaigns, neighborhood canvassing, phone banks, poll workers, voter ID and GOTV that has been the backbone of Democratic victories over the years,” Harmon noted. “The organizers say that such an infrastructure is lacking on the Republican side and is much needed.

“The group intends to focus heavily on GOTV of conservative voters with poor vote history who are likely to vote Republican – IF they vote. But they also intend to spend the months leading up to the election persuading independent voters and conservative Democrats to support Republicans in 2012.

To that end, Jamie Brazil, a longtime Democratic operative and part of the Clinton inner-circle, has been included in the group’s planning operations. Brazil will help target the group’s appeal to these swing voters, many of whom are blue collar, working class, socially conservative and senior voters who were key components of all Clinton victories.”

Davis, who noted that he got together with Harmon on the project when the two worked together on former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s campaign in Colorado, said the groups “current budget is $15 million for full ground game operations in seven states.

“Every state will be different but we would hope to have base teams of 20 to 25 people volunteering in the states constantly for 5 months.”

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