Robin Carnahan's campaign in Missouri was based on a 2008 model. Carnahan won 1.7 million votes in her re-election bid for Secretary of State, buoyed by a great year for Democrats and the presidential year. Her job was to avoid conflict, send out literature showing her picture as Secretary of State, raise money, and and wait to run until the last minute, counting on a favorable climate and the Carnahan name recognition to carry her through to election day.
It was a good strategy, but it needed one more component. Congressman Roy Blunt was her likely opponent in the 2010 race, and although she could count on the state's compliant press to roll over and play nice with her communications staff, she needed to create a negative atmosphere for the Blunt campaign, whose fundraising acumen and willingness to do the hard work of retail politics was going to be a threat.
Enter the League of Conservation Voters and the progressive coordinating entity known as America Votes. The two biggest spenders in the 2006 congressional elections were SEIU and America Votes. These two progressive behemoths have their hands in all sorts of pies, and it was only natural for the centralized philosophy of the left to lead to a centralized coordinating platform for elections.
But don't take my word for it. A Slideshare presentation uncovered last month (since taken down, but in pdf here) gave us all the information we needed on the plans to build a permanent progressive infrastructure. The plan reads like an attempt to connect Skynet and the Borg with the principles of Saul Alinsky.
And in Missouri, the state chapter was run by none other than Mindy Mazur, the current campaign manager for the Carnahan for Senate campaign. Prior to her year at America Votes, Mindy was Robin Carnahan's Chief of Staff for the SecState. She went to America Votes to lay down the infrastructure and make the connections between the Carnahan campaign and the national movement. But she wasn't the only one. Paula Hodges is the Political Director for Missouri for America Votes. She also came from Carnahan's staff, and has been the main contact since September of 2008. In fact, four out of the five people identified with AV in Missouri have worked for the Carnahan family, and the one who wasn't is a community organizer tied closely to other Carnahan allies. Here's a chart that shows the connections.
Why is this a problem? From April of November of 2009, over $750,000 in attack ads was leveled against Roy Blunt by America Votes partners, including television, radio, and billboard ads that ran statewide. The League of Conservation Votes, US Action, the AFL-CIO and VoteVets have coordinated attacks against political opponents across multiple states, with Roy Blunt being present in every single instance.
This is no coincidence, and it raises a very difficult question for the Carnahan campaign. To what extent did Mindy Mazur and Paula Hodges combine and colloborate with America Votes partners while in the employ of Carnahan? We don't have to ask if they coordinated, we can instead ask to what extent.
The League was caught lying about their ad buys. The Carnahan's paid for pet blog has been caught pushing stories to national progressive blogs. And most damaging, the timing and location of the advertising buys now call into question who decided on the targeting of the local markets for the anti-Blunt attacks. National groups don't have the expertise to pick and choose where to run television and direct mail campaigns. They need boots on the ground in the state.
In Missouri - every person responsible for that coordination is a former or current member of Secretary of State and her election campaigns. And to make it worse, Carnahan is now running six points behind Blunt despite the coordinated attacks. With a lackluster fundraising quarter and a campaign staff reduced to silly videos begging for money, the Carnahan campaign is in trouble.