CD5: All Politics Isn’t Just Local, It’s People


by Craig McDermott, crossposted from Random Musings

Note: while this one was written about the race in CD5 (Tempe and Scottsdale, and bits of a few other cities in Maricopa County), a lot of its points are applicable all over the state.


Nearly two decades ago, former House Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill published a followup to his best-selling autobiography (Man of the House) titled "All Politics Is Local."

That's a truism that all successful elected officials, before and since, have taken to heart.  Taking care of the district that elected them and understanding its needs is paramount for any elected looking to be a "re-elected."

Even more important than that, though, is people.

Specific artificially-created land areas on a map like political districts don't have needs, the people who live in those districts do.

Districts don't vote for candidates, people do.

And most importantly for the point of this post, districts don't form the backbones of political campaigns, people do.

The ground game of any campaign, particularly in a close race like CD5, is what makes the difference on Election Day.

An effective ground game that connects with voters can turn back a high-powered and heavily-funded aerial attack.

All of the TV ads and mailers funded by secretive corporate front groups and bungee campaign appearances by national figures employed by Fox News mean nothing next to volunteers talking to their neighbors.

In this, Harry Mitchell's lifetime of service to Tempe, Scottsdale, and Arizona is standing him in good stead. 

People are turning out in droves to help defend the man who has worked for them for decades, from teaching their children in school to advocating for them in the halls of Congress.

His ground game, hundreds of volunteers dialing or knocking and talking, is thumping the Schweikert campaign's. 

Over Columbus Day weekend, the Schweikert campaign bragged about making 5000 calls to voters.

By comparison, the Mitchell campaign made over 50,000 calls that same weekend.

It's not just on the holiday weekends that the respect and affection for Mitchell is showing through.

Anecdotally, this past weekend, I was at the Mitchell campaign office to make some calls.  I put down my stuff to go get some water before getting on the phones.  By the time I returned to that particular phone just a couple of minutes later, somebody else had already moved in to that seat and was making calls.  I had to wait a little while (~15 minutes) before another station opened up.

More than the volunteers in the office and out walking in neighborhoods, thousands of voters across the district have turned out for dozens of house parties for Mitchell.

By contrast, the Schweikert campaign's ground game seems to be floundering.

Just this past weekend, they sent out a "desperate" call for volunteers (their word, not mine) to do the things that the Mitchell campaign's volunteers have been doing for months – walk and talk to their neighbors.

Early last week, they sent out an equally desperate email, calling for "volunteers" to make their campaign office look busy during a visit from a reporter from the national political news site, Politico.

From the email from the Schweikert campaign's volunteer director, forwarded to me (misspellings theirs, not mine) –

I am in urgent need of your help. I need a ton of phone callers in the office tomorrow from 1:30pm until 3:30pm.. Here is why– We have reporters coming in from one of the biggest political sites in the nation. We need to look like the best run, well staffed campaign in the natin..

I've never seen such an email from the Mitchell campaign, even though they also received a visit from a Politico reporter.

There's no need for it – -the only times when I haven't seen the office busy is when most volunteers were out walking neighborhoods.

The sad thing is, in a close race in a Republican-leaning swing district, money can make a difference, and David Schweikert has access to a LOT of out-of-state corporate cash.  Just during the writing of this post, I've seen at least three Schweikert spots on TV, none actually paid for by Schweikert. (My favorite:  the perfectly-timed-for-Halloween spot paid for by John McCain with McCain and Jon Kyl touting Schweikert while wearing dark suits in front of a black background.  They look like disembodied heads floating in the air from a cheesy grade-Z horror movie from the 1950s.  Seriously spooky.)

He may not be *earning* the seat, but we are in danger of he and his allies *buying* the seat.

There are eight days left before the election, and Harry Mitchell needs our support, votes, and time more than ever.  Keeping the phones staffed and neighborhoods covered is what will put Harry over the top.

Sign up here to volunteer to walk or call voters between now and Election Day.

Added just for BfA readers:  Volunteer for Raul Grijalva here or for Gabrielle Giffords here.