Friday, July 22, 2011

Why should I vote for Tim Wilkes? The GOP congressional candidate answers.

Verne Strickland Blogmaster    July 22, 2011

By Tim Wilkes on Thursday, July 21, 2011 at 11:32am

Why Should I Vote for Tim Wilkes?

If you have made it to our Facebook page or website, you may be asking yourself, “Why should I vote for Tim Wilkes?” or “Is he any different than any of the other candidates?” Both questions are valid and since many people do not have a clear picture of who I am, I thought it best to start off with why many may see me as a candidate of their choice. I have broken this down into sections and areas of interest and should make it easier for anyone to skip to a section of more interest or help anyone who wants a quick idea of where I stand on the issues and our Constitution.

Short Bio: I was born in Southern Ohio where Ohio meets Kentucky and West Virginia, the small town of Proctorville boasting 620 people in 2010 with a school system that covers a large area consisting mainly of small farms and rural area living. Proctorville is a small area where growing up we knew just about everyone and our High School class had just over 100 graduating in 1987. Very familiar with Calabash and Myrtle Beach, SC as our once a year vacation destination we loved the beach and the food in Southeast NC and Northeast South Carolina. I spent about 21 years in our home area off and on and in 1988 joined the Army and finished my service at Ft. Bragg in SWTG (Special Warfare Training Group). I have spent 13 years in North Carolina in areas that range from Durham to Supply, NC and several towns in between and my wife and I have 3 kids in the local school system.

Job History: Starting from early on my parents taught me that hard work was necessary in order to succeed in life and helped my Dad with several of his jobs carrying brick, block and supplying mortar for foundations and chimneys he built on weekends for local people. Mowing lawns, yard work and chores around the house kept us busy and we were given the freedom to ride around and enjoy time with friends once our work was finished. The youngest of four children I enjoyed the luxury of watching my siblings and learning from their mistakes as well as my own. I have held jobs as a maintenance man and bellman for a hotel as my first official job and soon moved on to a vast number of jobs in restaurants, construction and more technical trades as a traffic signal maintenance for Division 6 at NC DOT and cellular tower inspector at KCI in Raleigh.

Military: I spent from 1988 to 1996 in the Infantry in Kansas and Germany before finally passing the SFAS (Special Forces Assessment Selection) assessment course on my third try and starting my short tour at Ft. Bragg learning some of the skills that lead you to your Tab and Green Beret. During this time period I was in a vehicle accident which prevented my completion of the course and was given a choice of continuing in the military in a less demanding field or leaving the Army, I chose to leave knowing I would not be able to lead troops by example in their physical training and ensure their safety and proficiency in possible combat situations. I was blessed with the opportunities to learn many aspects of my job and many auxiliary occupations during my service ranging from a machine gunner, communications, gunner on a Bradley Fighting vehicle and eventually a squad leader and given other responsibilities training gunners and troops in high dollar simulators until they were prepared for live fire ranges. When I left the military had given me the privilege of becoming a paratrooper and expanding my knowledge in so many areas that I cannot express my gratitude, while few of them translate into a civilian world job they all helped me grow as a person and a leader. I left the Army in 1999 with an honorable discharge and the status of a disabled vet, my minor status is nothing compared to my brothers in arms who have come home with much greater losses throughout our history.

Personal: I am married and had one former marriage in which she and I were much too young to understand what it meant to be a good wife or husband and what a commitment marriage is if you are serious about your vows, we had three boys who I am proud to call my sons. My wife and I today have a total of 7 kids including the 4 from this marriage and my 3 sons from the previous marriage.Currently we have 3 children who have graduated 2 boys and a daughter who is currently in the Army at Ft. Bragg. I am a Christian; which means I am still a flawed human being but strive each day to be a better person and treat others as I would wish to be treated, I have made mistakes in the past and probably will continue to do so until I pass from this world. If I am passionate about something I will keep trudging through until the goal has been achieved and currently my passions are my Faith, my family and my country and it is time we start using the Constitution for something other than toilet paper. If I can be left alone and be a recluse I would but like many of you I recognize that it is time for those who are willing to fight for our country and our freedoms to stand up and be counted in this battle. I am willing to accept that I can be wrong but make sure you have a valid argument filled with facts rather than opinion and bogus numbers.

Why vote for Tim? I am an everyday worker who has identified that our country is in trouble and that we need people who will stand up for the people of our District, State and nation and start calling things as they are and not how they have been spun. I am studying our constitution, foundation of our nation and its founders to ensure I have a strong foundation to support me in any endeavor as a representative and have some friends made locally that are extremely well versed in these matters and are willing to help me achieve a very strong arsenal in constitutionality and validity of programs and laws that I would encounter in Washington. Personally I understand that it is no longer a Republican, Democrat problem; it is not a rich person, poor person problem and it is not a color, sex or faith issue. It is a national problem that must be fixed by cutting spending on frivolous programs and back room deals, we must bring companies back to America and put our people back to work, we must secure our borders and protect our citizens from those who wish to see us be destroyed from the inside and from the outside attacking us and waiting for us to repeal more freedoms in the name of security.

If you are looking for a candidate who has no intention of a career in politics, who believes it is an honor to serve the people of our area and help them and his goal is to return our country to the constitution and common sense and come back home to his family when the job is complete and is willing to tell you what is going on and make the hard decisions, then I am your candidate. I can promise you; that you and I may not always agree but you will know exactly where I stand on the issues and why.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Democrats -- and GOP candidate Ilario Pantano -- criticize NC redistricting plans.

Verne Strickland Blogmaster
Published: 07:58 AM, Thu Jul 21, 2011
By Paul Woolverton
The newest proposed revisions for North Carolina's congressional districts are drawing criticism from the Democrats and from a Republican congressional candidate.

"Whole counties, cities and towns are shredded by this approach," said N.C. Democratic Party Chairman David Parker in a statement.

The new maps wrongly divide up communities of interest in the Wilmington area, said a spokesman for 7th District Congressional candidate Ilario Pantano, who last year lost a close election against incumbent Democrat Mike McIntyre of Lumberton.

The maps are being redrawn to account for shifts and growth in North Carolina's population. The mapmaking also gives the political party in power - this time the Republicans - a chance to devise districts that favor its candidates.

The latest revision to the 7th District draws McIntyre's home out of the district. He and most of his Robeson County base would be put into the 8th. The new map also removes Fayetteville, Fort Bragg and most of the rest of Cumberland County from the 7th. It would keep the rural southeast corner.

The map adds Republican-friendly Johnston County, parts of which have become suburbs of Raleigh.
Raleigh suburbs have little to do with coastal southeast North Carolina, and vice versa, said Pantano spokesman Andy Yates.

A better-drawn map likely would put more Democrats into the 7th District, Pantano said in a statement, making it harder for a Republican to win, but "I know that truly selfless service means doing the right thing, even when it hurts you politically."

The new 7th District has also drawn a primary opponent for Pantano. Republican State Sen. David Rouzer of Benson announced on Wednesday that he will run for the 7th District seat. In his announcement, he said he has received numerous endorsements from prominent Republicans.

Even though McIntyre would no longer live in the 7th District, he still plans to run for re-election. Congressmen are not required to live in their districts. But he still thinks the maps are bad.

"They've taken southeastern North Carolina and sliced it and diced it into five separate congressional districts with no regard for its communities of interest, its people, and their needs," McIntyre's campaign committee said in a statement.

Democrats stand to lose the most under the Republican-drawn maps. Based on previous voting patterns, the new maps favor Republican candidates more than a previous proposal, said Jonathan Kappler of the N.C. FreeEnterprise Foundation, a political research organization in Raleigh.

Out of the 13 North Carolina congressional districts, Republicans would be favored to win 10 seats, he said, and Democrats three. The existing districts are held by seven Democrats and six Republicans.

Under the latest maps, Cumberland County would be split among the 7th, 2nd and 4th Districts. Under the old maps, it is split between the 7th, 2nd and 8th.

Democrat Larry Kissell of Montgomery County, serving the 8th, will have a hard time winning the new 8th even though it picks up Democrat-friendly Robeson County, Kappler said. The rest of the district favors Republican candidates, he said. Despite the challenges, Kissell this month announced his re-election campaign.

Two Republicans are already looking at challenging him. According to WRAL, state Rep. Justin Burr of Stanly County and state Rep. Jerry Dockham of Davidson County said they are seriously considering runs for the 8th District.

Ten years ago, when the Democrats controlled the legislature and the mapmaking, they tried to make the 8th District a Democrat-friendly territory to defeat Republican Robin Hayes. Kissell defeated Hayes in 2008.

The 2nd District, served by freshman Republican Renee Ellmers of Harnett County, changes significantly, shifting to new territory to the west to Randolph County, home of the North Carolina Zoo.

It takes up much of Cumberland County and Fayetteville, plus all of Republican-friendly Moore County.
Overall, it's more solidly Republican, Kappler said.

"She's the Republican that's most helped by the congressional redistricting, which is important for her because she won in a great Republican year," Kappler said.

Fayetteville would also be added to a new 4th District that includes parts of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. Fayetteville native Brad Miller, a Democrat currently serving the 13th District, lives in Raleigh in the new 4th District. The 4th is served by Democrat David Price of Chapel Hill.

Staff writer Paul Woolverton can be reached at or (910) 486-3512.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wilmington Democrat Del Pietro revives his "McIntyre Watch" political GPS system.

Greetings Friends,

After taking several months off it's time to bring back the McIntyre watch as our own Congressman McIntyre continues to thumb his nose to the 7th Congressional District Democrats.  Lets face it, we did him a favor in the last election.  We gave him the benefit of the doubt.  Well, a lot has happened in this session and we've given him a free pass for long enough.  
He needs to be held accountable.  

Today's topic is his press release regarding his fundraising for the second quarter.  Mr. McIntyre hides behind the disguise of a fine Christian gentleman.  However, as I'm going to show you in his own words, he has no problem blatantly lying to the the citizens of the 7th district if it will help him.  We've been giving him a free pass on these white lies for a long time now, but I have to ask myself, "What else is he lying to us about"?  

The following statement from the Congressman says that 70% of his donations come from individuals, but the Federal Elections Commission Report clearly shows that the real number is 51%.  The congressman's statement isn't even remotely close to being true.  He is attempting to manipulate the facts to show that he is not bought off by special interests groups and PACS.

Here is the link to the Federal Elections Commission to review McIntyre's report:

Look at the detailed summary page:
Total Individual contributions:  $148,140
Total Contributions:  $286,126
As you can see when you divide individual contributions by the total it =51%

Have a wonderful day,
Del Pietro

Now here is Congressman McIntyre's statement in his own words:

McIntyre Finishes 2nd Quarter with More Than $376K Cash On Hand
Raises $286K in 2nd Quarter Alone
Representative Mike McIntyre (NC-07) today announced that his campaign will report more than $376,000 cash on hand after the second quarter, having raised more than $286,000. The amount raised by Rep. McIntyre more than quadruples the amount he raised during the same quarter in 2009, and nearly 70% of the contributions came from individual donors.
“I am tremendously appreciative of all the support I have received from the people of Southeastern North Carolina,” said Representative McIntyre.  “They understand that the future of our country is at stake in the next election, and I intend to keep fighting on their behalf to protect Medicare and Social Security, create jobs and grow our economy.”
Representative McIntyre finishes the quarter with $376,881.48 cash on hand, and he raised $286,126.93 in the second quarter from 385 contributors. During the same period in 2009, McIntyre raised $63,884.55.

NC State Senator David Rouzer to challenge Ilario Pantano in GOP/7th primary.

News release issued July 20 by David Rouzer Campaign Committee

RALEIGH - State Senator David Rouzer announced today that he will seek election to the U.S. Congress in the newly formed 7th Congressional District.

Under the newly released Congressional redistricting maps, the 7th District, currently held by Congressman Mike McIntyre, will include Johnston County and the counties south of Johnston as you travel I-40 east, ending with portions of New Hanover and Pender counties.

“The federal government has steered our country on a dangerous course and everyone knows it,” said Senator David Rouzer. “The choices we make moving forward will determine whether we remain the beacon of freedom in the world with economic prosperity at home or become a third-rate nation. We will determine whether our children and grandchildren live the American dream or whether they will be asking us what it was once like to live in America.”

“The only way to reform our federal government and regain our foothold for the future is to remove the shackles of taxation and burdensome regulation that have put millions of people out of work. We must return to the Founding principles of free enterprise and self-reliance that made this country an economic power and the envy of the world,” added Rouzer.

“To do this we must elect members of Congress who have proven themselves to be common-sense conservative leaders. My conservative record in the state legislature and the relationships built from years of work with many of the citizens and the major industries throughout the 7th District make this a natural move,” the Johnston County resident said.

Rouzer currently represents Johnston and Wayne counties in the North Carolina Senate where he serves as Co-Chairman of the Senate Agriculture and Environment Committee, the Natural and Economic Resources Appropriations Subcommittee, and the Joint Regulatory Reform Committee. In that capacity Rouzer was a leader in the effort to reform the state’s regulatory agencies and halt new regulations that would be a hindrance to small businesses and job creation.

Before his election to the state Senate, he served as a top advisor to U.S. Senators Jesse Helms and Elizabeth Dole and was instrumental in getting a tobacco buyout that has been so important for our state. Rouzer also served as a senior level presidential appointee to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Among those already supporting Rouzer’s bid for Congress are Mrs. Jesse Helms, former U.S. Senator Lauch Faircloth, N.C. Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler, former State Senator and Republican gubernatorial candidate Fred Smith, State Sen. Bill Rabon of Brunswick County, State Sen. Thom Goolsby of New Hanover County, State Sen. Wesley Meredith of Cumberland County, State Sen. Brent Jackson of Sampson County, N.C Rep. J.H. Langdon of Johnston County, Bill Prestage of Sampson County, and Dial Gray and Frank Grainger of Columbus County.

Note: The 7th Congressional District includes Johnston, Sampson, Duplin, Cumberland, Hoke, Robeson, Columbus, Bladen, Brunswick, Pender, New Hanover, and Lenoir counties.


McIntyre and Lumberton separated on map. Nothing to write home about.

Verne Strickland Blogmaster   July 20, 2011

Excessively incumbent Democrat wants to get Robeson and Fort Bragg back in his grasp.

StarNews File Photo

Last Modified: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 6:43 p.m.
U.S. Rep. Mike Mcintyre said Tuesday that he plans to run for re-election in a newly redrawn 7th Congressional District even though the latet proposal puts his Lumberton home in an adjacent district.

Meanwhile, New Hanover and Pender counties would both be split between two congressional districts under the new map released Tuesday afternoon by the Republican-controlled General Assembly. The district boundaries are substantially different than the first draft released early this month, which didn't divide the counties.

Under the latest proposal, the new 7th Congressional District would include about three-fourths of New Hanover County voters, leaving out the downtown Wilmington area. It would also contain eastern Pender, all of Brunswick, Columbus, Bladen, Duplin, Johnston and Sampson counties, as well as parts of Cumberland, Hoke, Lenoir and Robeson counties.

But McIntyre's house in Robeson County isn't in the proposed 7th District. Instead, it is in the adjacent 8th District, along with fellow Democratic Rep. Larry Kissell. That means McIntyre would have to choose between facing Kissell in a Democratic primary or running in the new Republican-leaning 7th District, as members of Congress don't have to live in the area they represent.

In a statement Tuesday condemning the new map, the Mike McIntyre for Congress Campaign Committee said McIntyre planned to try to retain his seat in the 7th District. He also plans to try to get Robeson and Fort Bragg restored to the district.

Meanwhile, New Hanover and Pender counties would both be split between two congressional districts under the new map released Tuesday afternoon by the Republican-controlled General Assembly. The district boundaries are substantially different than the first draft released early this month, which didn't divide the counties.
Under the latest proposal, the new 7th Congressional District would include about three-fourths of New Hanover County voters, leaving out the downtown Wilmington area. It would also contain eastern Pender, all of Brunswick, Columbus, Bladen, Duplin, Johnston and Sampson counties, as well as parts of Cumberland, Hoke, Lenoir and Robeson counties.But McIntyre's house in Robeson County isn't in the proposed 7th District. Instead, it is in the adjacent 8th District, along with fellow Democratic Rep. Larry Kissell.

That means McIntyre would have to choose between facing Kissell in a Democratic primary or running in the new Republican-leaning 7th District, as members of Congress don't have to live in the area they represent.
In a statement Tuesday condemning the new map, the Mike McIntyre for Congress Campaign Committee said McIntyre planned to try to retain his seat in the 7th District.

He also plans to try to get Robeson and Fort Bragg restored to the district."Congressman McIntyre has accomplished much for the 7th District and Southeastern North Carolina for the past 15 years, and he will work to continue to represent it in the next Congress and for the foreseeable future," the committee's statement said.
His committee condemned the revised map as "a blatant and brazen political attack on Southeastern North Carolina's communities and counties."

The committee noted the new map divides five southeastern counties: Robeson, Pender, New Hanover, Cumberland and Hoke. 

"They've taken Southeastern North Carolina and sliced it and diced it into five separate congressional districts with no regard for its communities of interest, its people and their needs," the committee said.

Leaning to GOP

Voters in the proposed 7th District chose Republican John McCain over Democrat Barack Obama for president in 2008 by a margin of 58 percent to 42 percent, an indication of the conservative tendencies of voters in the proposed district. About 52 percent of voters in McIntyre's current district voted for McCain.

"He's just really in a difficult position with the new maps if indeed this is what the new districts will look like," said Jonathan Kappler, research director for the N.C. FreeEnterprise Foundation and a close observer of state politics.

Republican Ilario Pantano, a former Marine who lives in New Hanover County and lost to McIntyre in last year's election, said he lives in and would plan to run for election from the new 7th District.

"Ilario made the decision to run for Congress earlier this year without knowing what the district lines might be, because he knew from listening to the people of Southeastern North Carolina that they were ready to have a congressman who would fight for their conservative principles," Pantano's campaign said in a prepared statement. 

The statement also said that the campaign believed it would be unfair to the people of the district to have a representative – obviously a reference to McIntyre – who doesn't live in the district.

The 3rd Congressional District, meanwhile, would include all or parts of 22 counties in eastern North Carolina, including the downtown Wilmington area and central and western Pender County. The incumbent in that district would be Rep. Walter Jones, a Republican from Farmville in Pitt County.

Boundaries for the state's 13 congressional districts are updated once a decade to account for population shifts identified by the U.S. Census. Typically a controversial and partisan process, this year is no different. Republicans in the state legislature control the process because they hold majorities in both the state House and Senate.

State committees will begin discussing the congressional district maps on Thursday morning in Raleigh. The full General Assembly still must approve them. The maps will first be used for the 2012 elections.

McIntyre and Kissell wouldn't be the only Democrats put into the same district by the new plan.
The residences of Reps. David Price and Brad Miller would be placed in the same Piedmont district, said state Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, the state House's chief mapmaker. 

While a North Carolina resident can run for any congressional seat in the state, it's tough to run outside your home district.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

John Locke: StarNews misses point on public employee pay raises.

Verne Strickland Blogmaster

The overstated line of the year is that the economy is in shambles.

 While unemployment languishes in the 9+% range, the REAL unemployment numbers are closer to 20%.  There are folks who have run out of time on unemployment.  There are those who have accepted far less pay or are now working far from home or both. There are also those who have simply stopped looking for a job.  It’s tough, period!

And government jobs have substantial advantages in difficult economies.  One, they’re likely to stay employed.  Real unemployment amongst government workers in NC at the local and county level approaches 2%.  Two, they have stellar retirement and benefit packages, many retire in their early fifties with full benefits.
And three, their performance is rarely questioned from a management perspective.  I say that with a family member in their employ.

But the StarNews had the following to say about county employees that might well see a 3% raise this year because the commissioners in New Hanover County were so magnanimous with other people’s money.
For the past two budget years employees not only didn’t get a raise, but those who were fortunate enough to survive layoffs were forced to take pay cuts in the form of unpaid furloughs. In many cases they are being asked to take on more and more responsibilities as jobs are frozen or eliminated.
Copy those sentiments and multiply them, that’s the reality of countless folks in the private sector who are still fortunate enough to have ANY job!  I’m not saying that county employees don’t work hard, I’m saying that having a job with benefits and low chance of being unemployed SHOULD suffice in the public employ.  The StarNews added insult to injury for questioning anyone so low as to criticize this move.
While budget conditions may necessitate withholding pay raises, doing so does little to help morale. Yes, there’s always someone who can point to a government worker who performed incompetently or abused the public trust. But for every one of them are countless others who give to their taxpayer-funded job the level effort that most private employers expect from their workers.
That little line in there about pay raises and morale. . . yep, but survival trumps morale and most folks would rather have a morale problem than lack a job. Again, I’ll reiterate that the issue here is not against the public sector employees, but against trying to juxtapose their efforts as being more worthy than those of the private sector whose diminished ability to produce income pays those salaries.  Those private sector jobs are suffering FAR more than those in the public employ.

In fact, it would take 63,000 additional job losses for state and local employees to match just 9% unemployment, but I didn’t see that in the editorial.

NC study: Black men survive longer in prison than out. So can blacks exist in a free society? This could really get ugly.

Verne Strickland Blogmaster

What are we to deduce from this study that shows black men survive longer in prison than outside? For whites, death rates inside prison were about the same. Outside, whites survived longer than blacks. The whole study is a sociological scandal for blacks, who seem uncontrolled and uncontrollable without the forced discipline of the prison. Whites successfully exist outside mainly because they do not kill each other with the casual ease of black men in the "free" society.

Much hand-wringing attends the realities of these findings. If black security and longevity can be created within prisons, why not outside, some ask? Well, if black men cannot survive free in a civil society, what shall society do? There is only one clear answer. Blacks need to learn to take are of themselves. Who else will care for them? And who else will even care?

This whole thing is just plain disgusting.

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Black men are half as likely to die at any given time if they're in prison than if they aren't, suggests a new study of North Carolina inmates.

The black prisoners seemed to be especially protected against alcohol- and drug-related deaths, as well as lethal accidents and certain chronic diseases.

But that pattern didn't hold for white men, who on the whole were slightly more likely to die in prison than outside, according to findings published in Annals of Epidemiology.

Researchers say it's not the first time a study has found lower death rates among certain groups of inmates -- particularly disadvantaged people, who might get protection against violent injuries and murder.

"Ironically, prisons are often the only provider of medical care accessible by these underserved and vulnerable Americans," said Hung-En Sung of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

"Typically, prison-based care is more comprehensive than what inmates have received prior to their admission," Sung, who wasn't involved in the new study, told Reuters Health by email.

The new study involved about 100,000 men between age 20 and 79 who were held in North Carolina prisons at some point between 1995 and 2005. Sixty percent of those men were black.

Researchers linked prison and state health records to determine which of the inmates died, and of what causes, during their prison stay. Then they compared those figures with expected deaths in men of the same age and race in the general population.

Less than one percent of men died during incarceration, and there was no difference between black and white inmates. But outside prison walls, blacks have a higher rate of death at any given age than whites.

"What's very sad about this is that if we are able to all of a sudden equalize or diminish these health inequalities that you see by race inside a place like prison, it should also be that in places like a poor neighborhood we should be able to diminish these sort of inequities," said Evelyn Patterson, who studies correctional facilities at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

"If it can be done (in prison), then certainly it can happen outside of prison," Patterson, who wasn't linked to the new work, told Reuters Health.

As in the general population, cancer and heart and blood vessel diseases were the most common cause of death among inmates -- accounting for more than half of deaths.

White prisoners died of cardiovascular diseases as often as expected and died of cancer slightly more often than non-prisoners.

Black inmates, by contrast, were between 30 and 40 percent less likely to die of those causes than those who weren't incarcerated. They were also less likely to die of diabetes, alcohol- and drug-related causes, airway diseases, accidents, suicide and murder than black men not in prison.

All told, their risk of death at any age was only half that of men living in the community.

For white men, the overall death rate was slightly higher -- by about 12 percent -- than in the general population, with some of that attributed to higher rates of death from infection, including HIV and hepatitis. When the researchers broke prisoners up by age, death rates were only higher for white prisoners age 50 and older.

"For some populations, being in prison likely provides benefits in regards to access to healthcare and life expectancy," said study author Dr. David Rosen, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

But, he added in an email, "it's important to remember that there are many possible negative consequences of imprisonment -- for example, broken relationships, loss of employment opportunities, and greater entrenchment in criminal activity -- that are not reflected in our study findings but nevertheless have an important influence on prisoners' lives and their overall health."

For Rosen, one of the main messages from the study is the need to make the world outside of prison walls safer, and to make sure people living there have adequate access to healthcare.

Monday, July 18, 2011

You don't have to like Obama to concede his fund-raising prowess. GOP buddies, we gotta get busy!

Verne Strickland Blogmaster / July 18, 2011


By Alexis Simendinger

President Obama's early campaign haul of more than $86 million, including $38 million to be shared with the Democratic National Committee, should send a few chills through the ranks of Republican presidential rivals, whose campaigns combined have barely come close to matching the dollars Obama has raised just for the DNC, at least according to details released by campaigns to date.

Wednesday's fundraising numbers (July 13) released by the Obama campaign, are intended to put enough muscle on display to give challengers in the crowded GOP field some pause, and to reassure Democrats who may feel less motivated than they were during Obama's historic 2008 campaign.

With no primary to worry about, Obama's campaign team has been busy organizing in 50 states for a general election next year. The incumbent's resources give him a head start to establish campaign offices and networks of volunteers well in advance of the election, and during a period when more than a half-dozen Republican candidates are competing for money they need to battle it out in early primary states before the party settles on a nominee.
In a message sent to supporters via email before dawn, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina described the second-quarter campaign totals as "a solid start." The campaign in recent weeks had suggested that fundraising totals would be modest because the president was focused on helping the DNC initially, which will need to tap the cash earlier than will his campaign.

The campaign may have been gaming the media a bit by lowering expectations and then exceeding them. But regardless of expectations, estimations and projections - it's simply undeniable that Obama is raising a ton of money.

In recent weeks, the campaign talked about its $60 million goal for the quarter -- for the campaign and DNC combined. The $47 million in contributions that will go to the Organizing for America campaign appears more robust alongside the DNC resources, creating the $86 million total. At this time in 2007, when Obama entered a prolonged primary race against Hillary Clinton, his campaign raised $25 million for the comparative period in the cycle.

In 2008, Obama raised close to $750 million for his campaign -- a record - and his team says the goal is to match that success this time. Messina, acknowledging a tougher political terrain and recession-squeezed potential supporters, has dismissed suggestions that the campaign is shooting for a $1 billion war chest for 2012. Maybe so, but that $1 billion still hangs in the air as a caution to the GOP field that candidates' must prove their money-raising skills if they hope to come out of the primaries on firm financial footing ahead of the general election face-off with Obama.

The president's campaign team announced that 98 percent of Obama's donors gave less than $250, for an average contribution of $69 -- their boast that the president is capable of resurrecting the grass-roots fervor that helped secure his victory against Republican Sen. John McCain in 2008.

Messina's message that Obama's campaign is "owned" by average Americans is designed to be the Democratic corollary to the small-dollar conservative support presidential candidates such as Rep. Michele Bachmann and Rep. Ron Paul are attracting. And it is being used by Obama's team to quietly draw an early contrast with the big-donor and "special interest" support candidate Mitt Romney enjoys at this stage of the election cycle.

That message of ownership -- and the Internet -- helped Obama raise 24 percent of the $746 million record in 2008 from individual donations of $200 or less. During the hard-fought primaries, small-dollar donors -- who do not come under Federal Election Commission scrutiny --- were responsible for 30 percent of Obama's individual contributions, and helped the candidate make the case that he had grass-roots backing and the momentum to win.

Among Republican candidates who have disclosed early information about their totals -- and that group excludes Bachmann -- conditions look more challenging than in 2008. The known information is that Republicans pulled in a combined $35 million in the quarter, compared with $53 million raised in the same period in 2008 by Romney, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and McCain.

Romney, with a stated campaign goal of $50 million for the 2012 GOP primaries, reported raising $18.3 million this quarter. That compares with $23 million he raised in the same period in 2007 during his unsuccessful bid for the White House.
In this cycle, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty raised $4.2 million, according to his campaign. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman reported $4.1 million, split among contributions from supporters and an injection from his own family fortune. And Texas Rep. Paul raised at least $4.5 million, his aides said.

Bachmann's tea party support is expected to put the Minnesota representative's fundraising totals at or near the top of the GOP presidential heap. For her congressional re-election campaign, Bachmann raised $2.2 million in the first three months of 2011, including $500,000 for her political action committee.

Despite all the attention on small-dollar donors, Obama will raise the bulk of his war chest for 2012 from big-dollar donors, just as his campaign did in 2008, and just as the GOP nominee is expected to do. Messina said the president will report more than 680,000 total donations in the second quarter, and 552,462 individual donations.

The Obama campaign will file a 15,000-page report with the FEC Friday (July 15), Messina said. It will be studied by rivals and donors alike for information about the campaign's spending to date. Some campaign experts suggest that the Obama team has had to spend significant money to raise money, even with its low-cost Internet expertise and reliance on volunteers. That data will be clear with the official filing. And Obama's early operations nationwide cost the campaign: Messina said the operation now has organizers in all 50 states and has 60 field offices open this summer.

On Saturday (July 15) the campaign will host a national "day of action" to register new voters, Messina said, underscoring the real point of Wednesday's news -- and the reason these campaigns are raising money: to convert dollars into votes.

Alexis Simendinger covers the White House for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at