AAPC California Conference

Great to moderate a panel of journalists at the AAPC California Conference at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in LA. The Roosevelt is a sentimental favorite – it was the hotel for the Barbara Boxer crew on primary night in 1992, when she scored an upset victory against two better-known and better-funded opponents.

While I stepped down as AAPC President in 2021 and left the Board this year (no more zooms about budgets and bylaws!), I’m still a member of the AAPC Foundation board, raising funds for internships and legal defense funds.

Pictured above are Mark Barabak of the LA Times and Christine Mai-Duc of the Wall Street Journal. Not pictured, but another great participant on my panel, was Jeff Horseman of the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

AAPC speaks out on Generative AI

AI has provided real benefits to campaigns, most notably in data, targeting and digital campaigns. Generative AI is another creature entirely. I was alarmed at the rising number of “deep fake” political ads designed to mislead voters about the truth and I’m proud the AAPC board agreed: “While the public’s trust in institutions and campaigns has been shaken in recent decades, the use of “deep fake” generative AI content is a dramatically different and dangerous threat to democracy.”

It can be hard to reach consensus among consultants on which tactics are acceptable in campaigns – particularly on a board that is national, bipartisan and represents every part of the industry, but this vote was unanimous. Full statement at the link.

The Atlantic: Who Will Replace Dianne Feinstein?

Interesting to chat with Ron Brownstein, longtime chronicler of campaigns, for this story looking at the CA US Senate race. The last wide open competitive primary for US Senate was in 1992 – when Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer were nominated (and then elected) after vigorous primary campaigns.


Early dynamics in the CA Senate race

Elections are a choice, and it’s each campaign’s job to define that choice for the voters. With three progressive Democratic House members running for US Senate in California, the candidates will struggle (and spend millions) to craft a distinct message and image. LA Times columnist Mark Barabak, who’s covered hundreds of campaigns in his career, breaks it down.


ProPolitics Podcast

Fun to speak to Zac McCrary as he launched his ProPolitics Podcast. This was recorded in 2021, but you’ll see that Zac is less interested in the hot takes and more interested in career arcs and turning points in campaigns. Zac is a terrific pollster with Impact Research and he’s interviewed dozens of interesting political operatives. https://propolitics.buzzsprout.com/1704139/8233709

Governor Newsom on the road again

California Governor Gavin Newsom is up for reelection this fall and he’s on the campaign trail making the case for his agenda – in DC, Florida and Texas. These red states are a perfect foil for his progressive agenda in California. Great to talk to Taryn Luna about the Governor’s campaign. https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-07-14/newsom-slams-red-states-over-education-policies

Closing the gap

I’ve joined the team at Close the Gap California. Less than a third of California legislators are women, and we’re working to “close the gap” to get to 50%. Close the Gap is focused entirely on recruiting and preparing talented women to run. Research shows that women are elected at the same rate as men – we just don’t have enough women running. I’ve had great conversations with dozens of potential candidates to help them get ready. 

Close the Gap has been interviewing key team members for a series on Medium. Here’s a link to my interview. 


Not your cookie-cutter ad

The best campaign ad-makers follow the research, connect with voter concerns, and tell voters about the values and character of the candidate. Understanding the context of the race, including the unique flavor of the area, is crucial to getting it right. This ad is a great example of someone who got it right. With Trump at the top of the ticket and a strong challenger campaign, this US Senate race in Alaska could be competitive.