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Daily Digest: Where is the Republican ActBlue?

BY Joshua Levy | Wednesday, November 21 2007

The Web on the Candidates

  • Republicans are still working hard to develop an answer to ActBlue, the online Democratic fundraising machine (more than $4.3 million raised for John Edwards this year). TechPresident contributor David All has taken a shot with Slatecard, and he reports that the site has just about reached the modest goal of raising $75,000 in its first 41 days (it actually missed its goal by $115.35). Ever the optimist, David is pleased that the site helped pull in folks who hadn’t donated to a campaign before. “In short, the community stepped up to the plate and gave the goal a good run for the money (no pun intended).”

  • Slatecard isn’t the only site to struggle to compete with ActBlue. RightRoots.com was able to raise almost $300,000 for Republican Congressional candidates in 2006, but that’s still a far cry from ActBlue’s numbers.

  • So what is ActBlue, anyway? Technically, it’s “a Federal PAC that enables anyone -- individuals, local groups, and national organizations -- to fundraise for the Democratic candidates of their choice.” It’s like a partisan escrow account, passing funds along to candidates after taking a small fee. Simple, right? Sure, but its status as a PAC could mean trouble for Edwards, who has decided to accepted federal matching funds. Pending a ruling from the FEC, Edwards may not be able to match funds raised on ActBlue because the FEC bars granting matching funds to contributions "drawn on the account of a committee." Donations of up to $250 are matchable, and since a large amount of contributions ActBlue are small, a large amount of that haul could be matched by federal funds. But if the FEC rules that ActBlue donations can’t be matched, it would be a big blow to the Edwards campaign.

The Candidates on the Web

  • In the face of declining poll numbers, Fred Thompson’s campaign is taking a step toward decentralization. The Wall Street Journal’s Amy Schatz reports that the campaign is asking supporters to call Republicans in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida from their homes. This is standard campaign practice but, as Schatz notes, the campaign usually controls the flow of names and numbers, and has a staffer looking over the callers’ shoulders to make sure all is well. But now supporters can simply download all of the names themselves and call voters independently. Not only is this “a bold experiment in decentralization,” but other candidates could download those lists too and have a little fun. Is this a sign of desperation from the Thompson camp or a savvy new experiment?

  • Former Virginia governor and former Republican presidential candidate Jim Gilmore has announced he’s running for VA senate. He’ll be facing — paying attention? — former governor and former Democratic presidential candidate Mark Warner. MyDD’s Todd Beeton took a look at the two candidates’ announcement videos and found a stark difference. Essentially, Gilmore’s video is dark and boring and the candidate looks uncomfortable; Warner’s video is more well done and the candidate looks happy, like a winner. But the best (or worst) part of Gilmore’s video is his opening statement: “These are challenging times for our country. We’re threatened by terrorism, concerned about a difficult war, stuck in traffic…” Clearly, a man with his finger on the pulse of our nation.

  • A handful of House Republicans have taken a radical step toward transparency and geekdom: they’re Twittering. The National Journal’s Aliya Sternstein writes that Roy Blunt, Eric Cantor, and John Boehner have all taken up electro-micro-updating in order to help get constituents “the information they want in the way they want it.” (Sadly, the article is behind a paywall.) Presidential candidates like Chris Dodd and John Edwards have taken to the tool as well, but if more and more lawmakers took it up it could open new pathways toward engagement. Or at least we’d know at what bar they’re all drinking and what flavor ice cream they’re eating.

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