Monday, June 12, 2006

We Need a Campaign of Business Not As Usual

Earlier today, one of this blog's readers was disagreeing with me, a frequent, and not unwelcome occurrence. The subject of our disagreement was the topic of the importance of the Internet to the congressional campaigns of New York's 24th District.

I have maintained all along that it is the Internet that, if used skillfully and with dedication, can provide the necessary edge to a Democratic candidate in our district. The Democratic candidate, no matter who it is, starts the campaign behind the Republican, and so it's important for the Democratic candidate to campaign in ways that the Republican opposition could not anticipate and does not know how to counter. The Internet, as a new form a communication, is perfect for this sort of maneuvering.

At least that's how I see it. There have been plenty of people this year telling me that I'm full of it, and that the Internet just doesn't matter to most people and can't be an effective part of the campaign. These people reassure me that Michael Arcuri is campaigning with experienced people who know how these things are done around here, and how they have always been done.

Another reader pointed out, quite insightfully, that the last thing we need is a Democratic campaign that does things the way that they've always been done. After all, when was the last time that a Democrat actually won a congressional campaign in the 24th District? Think way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, back now.

See, maybe all those tried and true methods have been tried over and over again, and the only thing that they deliver truly is defeat. As the second reader commented, do we really want Mike Arcuri to repeat the mistakes of the past?

The answer of the people who say that the Internet doesn't matter to campaigning seems to be yes. It's these sort of people who seem to be in charge of Michael Arcuri's campaign, and that's not a good sign for how things are going to go.

If you match up a play-it-safe Democratic campaign against a play-it-safe Republican campaign in the 24th District, the Democrat is going to lose... no matter how many parades he appears in, waving at the crowd from the back of a car... and no matter how hard the Democrat panders to right wing interest groups in order to try to steal Republican votes away from the Republican.

Faced with two mushy moderate candidates, voters will always choose the mushy moderate from their own party, and in this district, the party with the most registered voters is the Republican Party.

Michael Arcuri's campaign needs to rethink its reliance on campaigning-by-numbers, cast off the dead weight traditionalists, and start moving fast and sleek - and no, it can't wait until September to come from behind. With every passing week, Michael Arcuri's campaign is falling farther behind.


Anonymous said...

Again, what is your experience with congressional campaigns?

Did you notice that Arcuri managed to get the Independence Party line? That's a pretty big deal and may well mean a couple of thousand votes for him in November. It also helps define Meier as out of the mainstream. That's not a gift that grows on trees. It must have resulted from some serious work by the Arcuri campaign, behind the scenes to be sure, but important anyway. A heck of a lot more important than whether Meier put out a press release (that no one in the press covered--unlike Arcuri's minimum wage event) on congressional ethics.

24 Independent said...

I don't know that I agree with that interpretation. To me, the Independence line is rather OUT of the mainstream, and I can't help but think of all the kooks, with a turn towards the right, that have run on that line. I don't think it's something to covet, but that's me.

I can recall several elections in which the candidates thought that getting on a lot of lines on the ballot would help them win election... and they lost anyway. I'm not convinced that many voters pay attention to that sort of thing, though surely some voters do feel more comfortable voting for a candidate, but not on a major party line, out of resentment for the major party's positions, or merely their power. It may be of some benefit in that sense.

We'll see in the end. I may be wrong, but my sense is that last thing Michael Arcuri needs is a campaign dominated by people with congressional campaign experience. A couple, to be sure, to navigate the details, but I think what Arcuri really needs are some imaginative thinkers who are skilled at implementing a vision in a creative and compelling way.

Of course, for that, Michael Arcuri would have to have a vision to communicate, and he's really done a rather bad job at telling us what his vision is.

Come to think of it, I can't remember anyone describing it to me. Perhaps someone has, but I've forgotten it. Either way, I know that Arcuri wants to win, but I really don't know WHY he wants to win.

Oh, yes there's the gee whiz story about his talk with his son, but that's obviously not the real motivation. If Arcuri was really driven by the desire to end the war in Iraq, he would have come up with a PLAN for doing so... and he hasn't bothered.

I've heard Arcuri speak about his run for Congress, and read quite a bit about his campaign, and the only sense I get is that Arcuri wants the job.

What is it all about, and how do voters fit in? What's the story of the campaign? Where is the passion?

I'm finding none, and it doesn't matter if Arcuri finds the best consultants there are - if Arcuri has no passion for the race, and for a reason better than just winning for the sake of winning, he's done for.

Curious said...

Really? I'm not sure how he got the Independence Party line when petitioning hasn't happened yet. (Leaving aside how nutty that party happens to be, or that most people check that box because they think it means "Independent." This is "mainstream"?)I guess MA must have agreed to term limits and getting 80% of his funding from local sources. Wonder what the DCCC folks think of that.

Anonymous said...

10:19 - what is YOUR experience with congressional campaigns?

Anonymous said...

How absurd.

Getting a party-line endorsement doesn't matter to anyone but campaign people.

Most people don't think twice about such matters until the minute that they step inside a voting booth, and they've already made their minds up by then.

Arcuri could get the Intergalactic Freedom Fighters line on the ballot, and it would not make a bit of difference.

Arcuri had better get off his butt and attend to more important things.

Anonymous said...

Clearly, anyone who has experience on a Democratic campaign in the 24th District only has experience FAILING TO WIN. It's a simple matter of history. Stop going with the same old tired, experienced, losers.

Anonymous said...

24 democrat wrote:

"but I think what Arcuri really needs are some imaginative thinkers who are skilled at implementing a vision in a creative and compelling way."

So basically you are saying that the Arcuri campaign needs to hire you.

Anonymous said...

No, I don't want to work with the Arcuri campaign. There are skilled professionals out there, however, who could revolutionize Arcuri's campaign - taking it away from the same old tired and unsuccessful approach that's been tried so many times.

Arcuri needs a better campaign staff than what he's got now. His campaign is exhibiting a pathetic lack of vision.

Anonymous said...

"After all, when was the last time that a Democrat actually won a congressional campaign in the 24th District? Think way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way, back now."

Hrm... the district's changed over time. I suspect substantial parts of it have been parts of Democratically-controlled districts in the past. At least in Tompkins County, I know that's true, and it may be true elsewhere as well.

Anonymous said...

The last time I had a Democratic Congressman was in 1980. Others have not had one since 1988.

A lot of things have changed since then and both those Democratic Congressman were very active campaigners.

But times have changed since then and Congressional campaigns take a lot more money and rely more on media. Mike Arcuri needs to be raising a lot of money. He shouldn't be fooling himself, Ray Meier raised almost as much money as Arcuri and did it in a lot less time. If Arcuri is behind in fundraising in July, then the race will be entirely dependent on Spitzer and Clinton's coattails.

So maybe Arcuri is raising money instead of campaigning a lot publicly. That would be good. The problem is I still am not hearing about him having fundraisers and making phone calls for contributions or even doing mailings.

There are just too many years of unsuccessful Democratic campaigns since the last Democratic Congressman. Too many years of not succeeding and not learning how to succeed. What he needs is a kick ass outside professional campaign manager. Would someone please tell me he has one?

Curious said...

Outside, yes. Professional, yes. Kick ass, maybe not so much.

On the other hand, Les Roberts had outside AND inside, professional AND kick ass. Did that work out? Maybe not so much.

And the moral of the story is: Who knows. It's a closed club, it seems. We hapless voters must take it on faith that there's a plan.

Anonymous said...

Of course the democrats never won a congressional election. They never put anybody serious up against Sherry Blowhard. They also never put anybody up who showed they could get more votes than their family would add up to either. The democrats were not serious about beating Blowhard. The one I recall most is the guy who sells meat who couldn't put two words together and then got caught with petition signatures of dead nuns. There were also plenty of self appointed candidates who couldn't raise two cents. Nobody else bothered to run against him. None of their candidates were known in the political arena, or if they were known, they were comparative gnats next to Sherry Blowhard. Other times, the jerk didn't even have an opponent. He did come pretty close to losing his own primary once though, which is funny because his runs were a cake walk thanks to the democrats who played footsie. People were fed up with him and watching his district sink, and he knew he could be beat pretty soon even if the democrats weren't the ones to do it. That's why he really chose not to run, not all this "time with the family" hogwash. At least this time, the democrats are putting up someone people have shown they will actually vote for. Boehlert knew Arcuri could give him some pain this time around. So he ran off into the sunset.

Curious said...

7:34--Really? Fear of Arcuri? And all this time I thought it might be fear of a fundraising scandal. My bad.

That Arcuri guy, scary indeed.