February 11, 2004
Countdown to the 17th

A couple of big elections coming up on Tuesday. Over in Kentucky, Congressional candidate Ben Chandler has hit a small jackpot by running blog ads.

"We're raising [considerable] money off the blogs," said Chandler spokesman Jason Sauer. "It's been really successful. Really beyond anything we've expected."

With an investment of only $2,000, and in less than two weeks, the campaign has raked in between $45,000 and $50,000 in contributions from blog readers, and that number is growing every day, said Chandler campaign manager Mark Nickolas.

Chandler -- a former state auditor and former state attorney general -- is facing off against GOP state Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr in the Feb. 17 special election for the Lexington-area House seat. But while Kerr has outraised Chandler by several hundred thousand dollars -- as of late last week, Kerr had raised about $1.2 million and Chandler was estimating his fundraising total at about $650,000 -- Chandler's campaign says its fundraising pace is picking up and at least part of the surge has come from the Web.

"It has been phenomenal," Nickolas said. "I get an e-mail every time there's a contribution -- and we know from the e-mail the source is a blog when they come through that avenue. Since the morning of Jan. 29, the FEC [filing] cut-off, I've put all those e-mails in a separate file. So far there are 711." [...]

Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean has paved the way, raising millions in campaign cash from those who've visited his "Blog for America" site -- but Chandler has followed a slightly different model.

Instead of creating his own blog, Chandler is drawing potential donors to his campaign Web site by running advertisements on 11 other popular, politically oriented blogs such as Calpundit, Daily Kos and Instapundit [...]

No matter how you slice it, a 20-fold return on investment is nothing to sneeze at. And I just love that Instapundit may have helped out, no matter how inadvertently. You can kick in here. The latest numbers show Chandler leading, but in a tight race.

Of course, money's great but there's no substitute for direct action. As noted here, interested folks in the area are needed as volunteers to spend a little time in KY 06 and help out with the Chandler campaign. If that's your neck of the woods, please check it out.

I'd also like to highlight the following email that was sent by Kentucky for Dean to its supporters, as noted in the comments to that last post on Kos:

To all Dean supporters in the 6th District:

As we all work hard this week doing long distance phone-banking and letter writing for Gov. Dean's efforts in Wisconsin, I wanted to address a question about which I've been asked many times in the past few days: What can (or should) Dean supporters do to help Ben Chandler win the 6th District special election, considering he endorsed Wesley Clark for President?

I've gone over this in my head so many times, and the answer is always the same: we should do whatever we can to help Ben Chandler, the Democratic candidate, win this election. Here are two reasons:

1. This open U.S. Representative seat is important for Kentucky. Like Ernie Fletcher, Alice Forgy Kerr would undoubtedly be a rubber stamp for Republicans in the House. We need every single Democratic seat in the House to counterbalance Tom Delay and his radical right-wing agenda. Ben Chandler is the Democratic candidate, and whatever our disagreements, his election would better serve the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

2. Alice Forgy Kerr has made this special election a referendum on the popularity of President Bush and his agenda leading into the November election. In the strongest possible ways, Mrs. Kerr attached herself to the Bush administration and its policies of fiscal irresponsibility and reckless foreign policy. A Democratic victory in the 6th District (where President Bush won with 56% in 2000) would send a clear signal to the rest of the country: this President is a failure, and the electorate is starting to notice.

Like you, I was disappointed that Ben Chandler endorsed Wes Clark for President. I know and accept that this was a political decision--we have a difference of opinion on which candidate would make the best President.

But right now, I also believe we have a responsibility as good Democrats or concerned Independents to not let another under-qualified and irresponsible Republican represent this state. We can help. There are things you can do.

Thanks, and let me know if you have questions.


Jeremy Horton
Chair, Kentucky for Howard Dean

Good on them for keeping their eye on the ball.

There's a big election here on the 17th, too, as a successor to Bill Ratliff in the State Senate will be chosen. Andrew Dobbs at the Yellow Dog Blog has done a great job keeping up with this race - see his posts on the vicious smears against Democratic candidate Paul Sadler, and the record-breaking flipflop by Republican candidate Kevin Eltife. The group Texans for Lawsuit "Reform", who are behind the sleazy and inaccurate attacks on Sadler as they were in the general election, have accepted his challenge (PDF) to hold debates in VFW halls in the district. That ought to be fun. (Sadler's site has more on the attacks against him.) I haven't seen any polling on this race, but I expect it to be close. You can help out Sadler by donating to his campaign.

Finally, I don't have a dog in the fight for the open SD 31 seat, as the runoff is between Republicans, but I see that there's been some slapstick out there.

A Kirk Edwards strategist in a misdirected e-mail called an Amarillo TV news producer politically motivated and her audience "wine-swilling."

The strategist Friday mistakenly sent the e-mail to a California man bearing the same name as another strategist in Edwards' campaign.

In the e-mail, Brian Berry of The Strategy Group called Ellen Robertson Neal, executive producer for KACV-TV, "not a legitimate TV show host."


Berry on Monday said the e-mail was intended to be private and that he'd vented in it because Neal had "badgered" the Edwards campaign with phone calls after the Odessa candidate canceled his appearance on her show.

"That's just an elite term," Berry said of calling the PBS audience "wine-swilling."

"I don't know if they like wine. Maybe cheese, too."

A Craig Murphy of California forwarded the e-mail to Neal on Saturday after receiving several by mistake, apparently because he has the same name as another Edwards strategist, Craig Murphy of the Arlington-based Murphy Turner & Associates. Neal forwarded the e-mail to the Globe-News on Monday.

Call me crazy, but anyone dumb enough to send an email like that - more than once! - to a complete stranger instead of a coworker has no place criticizing someone else's perceived eliteness. And what is it with the food and beverage obsession, anyway?

UPDATE: Wow. Check out this ringing endorsement for Chandler. If these things have any effect, this one ought to help.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 11, 2004 to Election 2004 | TrackBack

I gave Chandler some money. I figure, this year, my money is well spent fighting the Republican machine, and I'm proud that we've got a good chance at a victory in my home state of Kentucky.

Posted by: Greg Morrow on February 11, 2004 3:11 PM

How come you didn't get any of the ads?

Sheesh, you do it for free, and put it in the main text of your blog.

Posted by: Another Rice Grad on February 12, 2004 4:42 PM

How come you didn't get any of the ads?

I received a solicitation for blog ads. I decided not to participate. It just isn't my style.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on February 12, 2004 4:48 PM