|First I just wanted to say that for those of you who followed my diaries/comments over the campaign I stopped blogging for awhile mostly out of loyalty to the party and progressive agenda. I was (and am) no fan of Michael Bennet, but I put that aside and voted how I had to in order to make sure the Ken Bucks didn't get into office. Staying off the blogs seemed like the best option, as I really couldn't bring myself to say much nice about Bennet besides him not being Buck. To be clear, this isn't about Bennet or even much about the Bennet campaign. I'm thankful not to have Buck as Senator.
Back during the primary the Colorado Democratic Party had to hire an executive director to run the day to day operations -- normal for a campaign year. Chairwoman Pat Waak chose the wife of Bennet campaign Coordinator Adam Dunstone: Jenni Peek-Dunstone...a decision that sparked quite a few questions about the party's neutrality.
If that was the only thing, it wouldn't be a big deal -- Jenni had worked house majority and had a good reputation on her own (actually probably better than her husband's). The next move was far worse.
The "coordinated campaign" is the party's effort to elect dems up and down a ticket -- it makes for the bulk of the GOTV and other late activities. Usually a party will try and take input from the various campaigns to ensure that it doesn't essentially become an offshoot of any one campaign. This last year, the party claimed to have done a national search, but ended up selecting another partner of a Bennet staffer -- this time their deputy campaign manager's fiance. This was, of course, still during a primary in which it wasn't clear if Bennet would even be the nominee.
After the primary, the Bennet camp actually made some sensible decisions. They knew what they were and were not good at. They were good at media and money, but bad at field. A strong campaign knows its strengths and weaknesses. In this case, the Bennet campaign handed over the keys of their field operation almost entirely to the coordinated -- staff shifted off Bennet payroll and to the party, direct voter contact started would be handled more by the party, etc. Smart move for Bennet, but a move that helped destroy other democratic campaigns in Colorado.
Normally a coordinated campaign staff runs GOTV and field because they know how to -- in fact the whole idea is that they are qualified to do this and the campaigns trust them. This last election, nothing could be further from the truth.
The dems coordinated campaign decided they also couldn't actually do field (apparently just passing the buck so to speak), so they decided to hire an obscure consulting firm called Terra Strategies. Now Terra's website looks like it was build by a high school kid running for class president, and none of their staff had experience in Colorado. They were hired simply because of personal relations with the coordinated campaign director. This is where everything truly starts to fall apart for the dems.
Only a few weeks before election day (and around when mail in ballots are going out), Terra had no actual field operation. They had been given several hundred thousand from the DSCC, and coordinated had money from nearly every major race as well, yet no one was actually doing anything with it. Hickenlooper was going to cruise to victory, Bennet ditched most of their field operation to coordinated, and other statewide races (Kennedy, Buescher, Garnett) trust in the party effort out of necessity (those three being swept by the Republicans of course).
So we have an out of state consulting group with ties to the out of state coordinated director with ties to the out of state deputy campaign manager for Bennet -- none of which have any vested interest in helping elect democrats in Colorado (besides Bennet of course).
At this point, Terra apparently realizes they need staff in order to run canvasses (who knew?) and find a bunch of unemployed former Romanoff staff to actually do the work of crunching numbers, hiring canvassers, and knocking on doors -- all in about 4 days. Terra of course takes a large cut of the over budget for themselves...apparently for the administrative costs.
Now, several days after the election, Terra is not returning phone calls of people who they owe money (namely all those canvassers who pushed Michael Bennet over the finish line).
Not paying your employees in a timely fashion is bad enough, but there is a much larger problem with this scenario: the people running the democrats efforts simply were not qualified and were hired only because of who they knew.
Kennedy and Buescher lost in large part because the organization that was supposed to be there for them simply wasn't. There was no real "coordinated" campaign -- there were incompetent out of state firms raking in money while doing literally nothing for the campaigns. The "coordinated" also did almost nothing for the congressional races, only making a token effort in CD3 at the 11th hour.
RBI strategies should be embarrassed for their part in this as well. They are Colorado's only large progressive firm left (since David Kenney dropped off the scene when Ritter did), and they had the senior role on both Kennedy and Buescher -- Democrats lost both statewide offices on RBI's watch. RBI, of course, was also the main consulting group for Bennet and Partner Craig Hughes ran Bennet's campaign.
So we are left with a situation in which wave after wave of incompetent people who simply hired each other all sucked up millions in resources only to lose 2 congressional seats, 2 statewide offices, and 1 chamber of the Colorado legislature -- only Bennet was able to narrowly squeak out a victory...in large part because a dozen or so former Romanoff people put aside their issues to quickly create an actual canvass GOTV effort.
There is a lot of conversation about how Dick Wadhams is hiding in a corner and will probably be removed (and Repubs are smart to do so -- he's an idiot). Democrats better look at their own situation too though -- Dems took a beating they shouldn't have: Kennedy and Buescher just didn't have anyone looking out for them.
Did I mention that Terra is now avoiding calls from the actual Coloradans they hired to do the work they couldn't? Klassy.