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Jul 27, 2015

Insight – Koch Brothers’ political group struggles in Alaska

ANCHORAGE (Reuters) – When it comes to influencing politics, few billionaires are more effective than the industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch. Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the nonprofit organisation they founded and continue to support, achieved a 95 percent success rate in the 2014 election races where it spent money.

But in Alaska, a state that could be pivotal in the 2016 elections, the group’s reception has been surprisingly chilly. 

Jul 27, 2015

Koch Brothers’ political group struggles in Alaska

ANCHORAGE, July 27 (Reuters) – When it comes to
influencing politics, few billionaires are more effective than
the industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch. Americans for
Prosperity (AFP), the nonprofit organization they founded and
continue to support, achieved a 95 percent success rate in the
2014 election races where it spent money.
But in Alaska, a state that could be pivotal in the 2016
elections, the group’s reception has been surprisingly chilly.
Republicans outnumber Democrats by nearly two to one in
America’s northernmost state, and the GOP candidate has won
every presidential contest in the state for the last 50 years.
The conservative AFP’s message of free markets and limited
government, along with its strong support for oil industry
interests, resonates here.
But the same independent spirit that defines Alaskans also
makes them bristle at attempts by outsiders to shape their
thinking, political analysts say, and the Kochs are viewed as
outsiders here by many Democrats and Republicans alike.

Dave Stieren, a conservative talk radio host in Anchorage,
said that in Alaska the group has been neither the “boogeyman”
liberals fear nor the “engine for change” the Kochs would like
it to be. It just hasn’t had much impact, he said.
“When you say Americans for Prosperity in Alaska,” he said,
“I’m like, ‘Who?’”
The problem isn’t that AFP supports causes and candidates
unpalatable to Alaskans. In 2014, for example, the group
targeted Democrat Mark Begich, who was defeated by Republican
Dan Sullivan in the U.S. Senate race. But even some Alaskans
closely aligned with AFP’s goals question whether the group’s
efforts in the race helped.
Alaskan Republican strategist Art Hackney, who last month
signed on to Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s presidential
campaign, is happy to credit AFP with a long list of
accomplishments outside the state, including in Iowa, North
Carolina and Colorado.
“In most of those states what they did worked but in Alaska it
doesn’t,” he said. “In Alaska they had an impotent system.”
As evidence, he cites a commercial AFP ran during the
Begich-Sullivan race featuring a woman describing how Begich’s
positions hurt her family.
“Senator Begich didn’t listen. How can I ever trust him
again?” she asked.
But the woman decrying Begich turned out to be an actress from
Maryland, and that didn’t play well in Alaska, where it drew
considerable media attention.
“Alaskans know she is not Alaskan and never voted for Begich
in the first place and it’s a lie,” Hackney said.
In the end, Hackney said, he believes the AFP ad actually
helped Begich, who lost to Sullivan by the narrowest margin of
any Senate race in the country.

Jul 22, 2015

Republicans close the digital gap as web gurus go head-to-head

NEW YORK, July 22 (Reuters) – She’s thrived through two
decades of elections; he’s blown his competitors out of the
water in a few short years on the scene.

Now the two digital strategy gurus are facing off on
opposite sides of the 2016 presidential race, as Republicans get
serious about closing a digital strategy gap with Democrats that
cost them dearly in the last election.

Jul 16, 2015

Lean Bush campaign operation signals new U.S. playbook

NEW YORK (Reuters) – For months, U.S. political pundits have declared 2016 the presidential election in which candidates will use outside spending groups, known as Super PACs, to reinvent the modern campaign playbook.

Now, in thousands of pages of campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission Wednesday by Republican Jeb Bush and other candidates, a first glimpse is emerging of just how much Super PACs are beginning to reshape how candidates run and pay for their campaigns.

Jul 13, 2015

Republican Rubio raises $12 million for 2016 White House bid

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio raised $12 million in the three months through the end of June for his Republican bid for the presidency in 2016, his campaign said on Monday, marking a pace that lagged his main rivals in the race.

Outside groups that back Rubio said last week they raised about $32 million to support his White House effort. The Florida senator launched his campaign in April and has positioned himself as a standard bearer for a new generation of Republican leadership.

Jul 1, 2015

Democrat Clinton raises $45 million since April U.S. campaign launch

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton has raised more than $45 million since she entered the race in April, aides said on Wednesday, setting a fast pace in what is sure to be the most expensive U.S. political campaign in history.

The fundraising figure, announced by the campaign on Twitter, did not include a breakdown of the total number of donors to Clinton, the amount of their average donation or how many donors have already given the legal maximum of $2,700.

Jun 26, 2015
via Tales from the Trail

What does a group of Clinton supporters in deep-red Alaska look like?

Photo

REUTERS/Emily Flitter

ANCHORAGE – Here is what a early Hillary Clinton campaign volunteer meeting looks like in Alaska:

A narrow, sun-drenched backyard, a picnic table nestled between a shady tree and a chicken coop, a capsized canoe off to one side cradling a well of ice filled with cans of beer and soda, and 15 or so gung-ho Clinton supporters snacking on homemade barbecue fare on a weekday evening.

Jun 18, 2015

South Carolina massacre suspect had apparent interest in white supremacy

By Emily Flitter and Jonathan Allen

(Reuters) – His uncle worried he was cooped up in his room too much. The few images of him easily found online suggest he had a fascination with white supremacy. And for his birthday this year, his father bought the young man a pistol, the uncle said.

Dylann Roof, 21, was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of having fatally shot nine people at a historic African-American church in South Carolina on Wednesday.

Jun 18, 2015

South Carolina church shooting suspect got gun for birthday, uncle says

By Emily Flitter

(Reuters) – Dylann Roof, the man suspected of fatally shooting nine people at a historic African American church in South Carolina on Wednesday, was given a gun by his father as a 21st birthday present in April, his uncle told Reuters on Thursday.

Law enforcement officers were at the home of Roof’s mother on Thursday morning, the uncle, Carson Cowles, said in a telephone interview.

Jun 13, 2015
via Tales from the Trail

Lindsey Graham is really, really happy to be here (in Utah)

Photo

Graham preparing for the last of his TV interviews at Mitt Romney’s E2 Summit in Deer Valley, Utah. REUTERS/Emily Flitter

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham may never be called a front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination but he is trying hard to make a mark, and at former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s retreat for wealthy donors, that means spending as much time with the press as it does with America’s richest people.