A press release from America First Policies, a political action committee working to boost President Donald Trump’s re-election bid, arrived this morning.
It boasted of a million-dollar campaign aimed at 28 members of Congress “who likely will be the swing legislators on an impeachment vote.”
At this point, the effort is a comparatively small one. The majority of the money will be spent on Facebook ads and text messages that push constituents to grouse to their U.S. House representatives. Some $250,000 will be spent on TV with an ad that carries this familiar two-by-four of a message:
“Investigations. Lies. A witch hunt. The radical left will stop at nothing to impeach President Trump. Better trade deals delayed. Stronger borders obstructed. Funding for our troops incomplete. A do-nothing Congress focused on a witch hunt….”
There’s no mention of “quid pro quo” or $391 million in stalled military aid to a Russian foe. The word “whistleblower” is missing, as is any mention of last week’s voluntary testimony by a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
But here’s what struck us: The TV ads, arguably the most expensive part of any campaign, are aimed at three Democratic members of Congress. And U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta, is not one of them.
The objects of the TV advertising are U.S. Reps. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, a former CIA spy who beat Republican incumbent David Brat in 2018; U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer of Iowa, who defeated GOP incumbent Rod Blum the same year; and U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania, a four-term veteran.
We saw a rally of Trump supporters outside McBath’s Sandy Springs office last week -- an event pushed by the Trump campaign itself. (McBath supporters showed up, too, to offer a counterpoint.)
The congresswoman sits on the House Judiciary Committee, and last month voted to proceed with the U.S. House impeachment inquiry.
But the priority list laid out above is a subtle admission that Georgia’s Sixth District may be harder to influence than many Republicans think -- and so may also be harder to recapture in 2020.
Over the last several years, age and education have emerged two of the most important demographic features of U.S. politics. In many communities, voters under 50 are skewing hard toward Democrats, as are college-educated voters.
So we spent this morning tracking down some U.S. Census Bureau stats on the three selected targets:
-- In Spanberger’s Seventh District in Virginia: 40.5% over the age of 24 have a bachelor’s degree or better. And 29% of the population is over 54.
-- In Cartwright’s Eighth District in Pennsylvania: 25% have a bachelor’s degree or better, and 34.2% are over 54.
-- In Finkenauer’s First District in Iowa: 27% have a bachelor’s degree or better, and 26.4% are over 54.
Compare those three to Georgia’s Sixth District. In McBath’s territory, the young population may be something of a factor – only 25.5% are older than 54.
But it is education that is the eyebrow-raiser. In 2017, the Sixth District was judged to have the sixth-highest level of education in the country. According to 2018 U.S. Census estimates, 63.5% have a bachelor’s degree or better. And that’s an audience more likely to resist gut-level appeals on television.
As two of your Insiders noted earlier this morning, we’re starting to get an early peek at the latest fundraising numbers from Georgia’s U.S. House and Senate candidates. And one candidate’s new figures caught our eye.
Lerah Lee is one of the more than half-dozen Republicans vying to replace U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall in the crowded 7th District race. The Duluth educator and political newbie has 125 Twitter followers, yet her campaign reported that it raised an eye-popping $300,000 in the three months since she entered the race.
To put that into perspective, that’s more than what well-known names like Karen Handel, Carolyn Bourdeaux and Renee Untermanraised in the last fundraising quarter. (We have yet to see their latest numbers.)
What’s even odder is that more than 70% of the money Lee reported allegedly came from political action committees and only about 4% from individual donors, the latter of which tends to be a better indicator of grassroots support. (The rest came from groups classified as political party committees.)
Further, many of the PACs listed in the Lee campaign’s report had vague, conservative-sounding names that we couldn’t find a trace of online, including “Mighty GOP Conservative Donors,” “Patriot Defenders” and “Right Donors & Supporters,” as well as donation amounts that exceed the legal limit. And nearly all the listings mention Campaign Solutions, a Republican fundraising and marketing vendor.
We reached out to the Lee campaign, which said the donations from many of the PACs listed actually came from individual donors and that it’s correcting the errors. A spokesman said the total that Lee raised remains the same.
Longtime Atlanta journalist Maynard Eaton sent us a link to a video interview of former mayor and U.N. ambassador Andrew Young, recorded at fellow civil rights pioneer Joseph Lowery’s 98th birthday party over the weekend. Says Young, who is 87:
“I ain’t gone yet, and I don’t plan to go anytime soon. Dr. King said, ‘You know, it’s rough out here. And we probably won’t make it to 40.’ He said, ‘But if we make it to 40, we’ll have to make it to 100, because it’ll take that long to get this country straight.’
“Well, he didn’t make it to 40, but I have felt obligated to keep on keepin’ on to 100. And so has Joseph Lowery and C.T. Vivian. You know, we might not make it, but we’re going to go out swinging.”
The retirement of a senior New York Democrat on Capitol Hill could present a major opportunity for U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany. Bishop is a senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, the powerful panel that helps control the federal pursestrings, and a top deputy to Chairwoman Nita Lowey, who announced last week that she’ll retire at the end of 2020. That leaves room for Bishop to make a bid for one of the most influential posts in Congress. Bishop has yet to weigh in, but at least one of his more-senior colleagues,Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, has already announced her intent to run.
Don’t look now, but Democrat Stacey Abrams is set to make what we think is her first political visit to early-voting Iowa with a trip in November to the University of Iowa to boost her voting rights group. Though she’s not running for president, she’s happy to be in the conversation for a vice-presidential running-mate.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.