Category Archives: campaigns

“Gene Mazo survives petition challenge in NJ-10 special election”

New Jersey Globe:

Eugene Mazo, a Rutgers law professor with a penchant for filing for political office in order to test out state election laws, has just barely survived a challenge to his nominating petitions for the special election in New Jersey’s 10th congressional district.

Leslye Moya, the co-executive director of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, had filed a challenge against many dozen of Mazo’s 243 signatures, claiming that they had a variety of deficiencies. But Administrative Law Judge JoAnn LaSala Candido determined that only 43 of them were invalid, keeping Mazo at 200 acceptable signatures – exactly the threshold required for ballot access.

The attorney representing Moya, Raj Parikh, said at the end of the hearing that he will not officially withdraw his challenge until he speaks with his client.

The judge’s determination means that, at least for now, the Democratic primary field for the late Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-Newark)’s congressional seat will remain at 11 candidates. Two of those candidates, former East Orange Councilwoman Brittany Claybrooks and Newark City Council President LaMonica McIver, are also facing petition challenges that have yet to be resolved.

Either McIver or Claybrooks are far more likely to end up prevailing in the July 16 Democratic primary than Mazo, whose runs for office are usually not concerned with actually winning.

Mazo, a scholar of election law, has run for Congress several times before, utilizing unusual or provocative ballot slogans in order to challenge the state’s slogan restrictions. (In 2022, for example, he filed for the 8th congressional district using slogans like “Supported by the Governor” and “Endorsed by the New York Times,” statements that were not true.)

This year, Mazo filed at first with three ballot slogans referencing a variety of famous figures, fictional and real: “Vladimir Putin Is A Murderous Warmonger” in Essex County, “Xi Jinping Will Destroy Taiwan” in Hudson County, and “The James Bond of Newark” in Union County. But those were rejected by the Division of Elections; Putin and Xi, after all, had not granted Mazo their permission to use their names….

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“Top RNC lawyer resigns after rift grows with Trump”

WaPo on the campaign losing the adult in the room:

The top lawyer at the Republican Party is resigning after he cited conflicts with his other work obligations and after Donald Trump grew angry about his criticism of the former president’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, people familiar with the situation said Saturday night.

The lawyer, Charlie Spies, is a long-respected GOP election operative who was hired by Trump’s top lieutenants in March after the former president engineered a takeover of the Republican National Committee, which in recent years has been the party’s main operation in both fundraising and field operations.

Trump had approved of the hiring but later learned about additional comments the lawyer had made. Spies in the past had worked for, either directly or indirectly, former Florida governor Jeb Bush (R), Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). He was liked by Trump’s top advisers, who orchestrated his hiring even though they knew he was skeptical of Trump’s false claims of a stolen election….

Spies had been tasked with leading the party’s vast legal spending and election integrity program, and his hire was viewed as a sign Trump’s RNC could attract significant party talent.

Trump aides had worked to save Spies from being ousted after learning Trump was angry about his previous comments. They’re trying to convince Trump that Spies was a stronger election lawyer than others and to forgive the comments, said people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. He was viewed as close with LaCivita and Susie Wiles, Trump’s two top aides….

Spies has also repeatedly defended the presidential election system as being nearly impossible to rig, citing the broad distribution of authority in managing elections. During a 2021 appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference, he said correctly that allegations of widespread voting machine error in Michigan were false and that repeated recounts in Georgia had failed to show any voter fraud in the 2020 race there.

“Let’s win the elections, and not get worried about things that aren’t true,” he said at that event.

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“As Meta flees politics, campaigns rely on new tricks to reach voters”


After years of pitching its suite of social media apps as the lifeblood of campaigns,Meta is breaking up with politics. The company has decreased the visibility of politics-focused posts and accounts on Facebook and Instagram as well as imposed new rules on political advertisers, kneecapping the targeting system long used by politicians to reach potential voters.

Waves of layoffs have eviscerated the team responsible for coordinating with politicians and campaigns,according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private personnel matters. This includes foreign-based workers and U.S. employees who promoted the company’s products to politicians and fielded questions from campaigns about their services.

An advertising sales team, which once embedded with the Trump team during the 2016 election campaign, is now responsible for many of their previous responsibilities, the people said.

Meta’s shift away from current events is forcing campaigns to upend their digital outreach in a move that could transform the 2024 election.Comparing March 2020 to March 2024, both the Biden and Trump campaigns saw 60 percent declinesin their average engagement per Facebook post, a Washington Post review found, with double-digit declines on Instagram.

The Trump team has cast Meta’s moves as an effort to tip the scales in favor of Biden. The Biden campaign, meanwhile, had already begun to shift its online focus, rolling out a cadre of influencers and volunteers to spread their messages across private spaces on social networks….

Meanwhile, political campaigns are adjusting to this new reality. Biden appears to be countering the trend by posting more frequently on social media accounts — including from official White House pages — to drive engagement. Biden-linked Facebook posts increased from about 300 in March 2020 to more than 600 in March 2024, while Trump’s posts dropped from more than 1,000 in March 2020 to about 200 in March 2024, the Post analysis found.

While Trump dramatically increased posts to his own social network, Truth Social, he has refrained from publishing frequently on Twitter, Facebook or YouTube. Top Trump campaign adviser Chris LaCivita likened Meta’s push away from politics to a form of shadow banning, when tech companies allow users to post but secretly depress who sees the content.

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“How Republicans texted and emailed their way into a money problem”


In the years after Donald Trump lost the presidency to Joe Biden, Trump sent so many emails and text messages asking for money that Republican consultants warned his mailing lists could become useless. The former president’s friends told him that they were being asked for too much, too often, and Trump himself ordered aides at one point to slow the solicitations. Some of his fans, pockets emptied, mailed handwritten letters apologizing for not being able to give more.

Now, as Trump and Biden prepare for a rematch, Trump’s vaunted small-dollar fundraising operation is not bringing in as much money as it once did.

In 2020, Trump and his fundraising committees raised a record $626.6 million from small-dollar donors, 35 percent more than Biden took in from that group.

But last year, Trump raised just $51 million from small donors, way down from the $119 million he registered in 2019 and only 18 percent more than Biden’s total. His small-dollar haul — which includes donations of $200 or less — was not nearly enough to offset Biden’s lead among major donors.

The Republican National Committee also raised much less money from small-dollar donors in 2023 than it had in 2019, contributing to budget problems for the party. Officials at the National Republican Senatorial Committee were shocked by the low returns on their investment in the strategy ahead of the last midterm elections.

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“How Trump Moved Money to Pay $100 Million in Legal Bills”


Former President Donald J. Trump has spent more than $100 million since leaving office, on lawyers and other costs related to fending off various investigations, indictments and his coming criminal trials, according to a New York Times review of federal records.

The remarkable sum means that Mr. Trump has averaged more than $90,000 a day in legal-related costs for more than three years — none of it paid for with his own money.

Instead, the former president has relied almost entirely on donations made in an attempt to fight the results of the 2020 election.

Now, those accounts are nearly drained, and Mr. Trump faces a choice: begin to pay his own substantial legal fees or find another way to finance them….

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“Republicans Are Counting on Millionaires to Flip the Senate”


Since his rise to the presidency, Donald J. Trump has claimed enormous wealth as proof that he is an anti-establishment ally of the working class, not beholden to corporate donors or special interests.

The Republican Party, eyeing control of the Senate next year, is trying to mimic his success with a cohort of candidates who in the past might have been attacked as a bunch of rich men but this year will be sold as successful outsiders in the Trump mold.

The decision by Ohio voters on Tuesday to nominate Bernie Moreno to take on Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, is the capstone of a year that has crowned nominees — or anointed clear front-runners — with remarkable wealth in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Montana and now Ohio.

That might match the party’s presumptive nominee, Mr. Trump, but with backgrounds in banking and hedge funds, properties in Connecticut and Laguna Beach, Calif., and education credentials from Princeton and the Naval Academy, some in the 2024 class feel more like the days of Mitt Romney, worth around $174 million, and John McCain, a Naval Academy graduate who married into a beer-distributing empire, than the current moment when blue-collar credibility is the currency of the realm.

The intentional decision by Republicans in Washington, D.C., to get behind candidates with enormous personal fortunes will most likely give the party a boost as it struggles for campaign cash against the Democrats’ formidable grass-roots fund-raising operations. But the sheer affluence of the candidates — and how they made their money — is sure to be a factor in the fight for Senate control.

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“How Trump Is Scrambling to Raise Cash”


As many as three nights a week, Donald J. Trump has been hosting private dinners at Mar-a-Lago, schmoozing with some of the Republican Party’s biggest financiers as he races to address a sizable cash shortfall against President Biden.

There is no request for money from the attendees at these meals, which have included Larry Ellison, the billionaire co-founder of Oracle, and Pepe Fanjul, the sugar magnate, according to people familiar with the sessions. But advisers to Mr. Trump’s campaign and his super PACs hope the charm offensive will eventually pay political and financial dividends.

One of the most pressing issues facing Mr. Trump is the financial disparity he and allied groups now face with Mr. Biden and the Democratic Party. Democrats have boasted of entering February with $130 million. The Trump operation did not release a full total, but his campaign account and the Republican National Committee had around $40 million.

Mr. Trump enters the general election ahead of Mr. Biden in public polls. But Mr. Biden has taken full advantage of one of the benefits of incumbency, both socking away cash and building out a political operation earlier than his challenger.

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“The US is bracing for complex, fast-moving threats to elections this year, FBI director warns”


The United States expects to face fast-moving threats to American elections this year as artificial intelligence and other technological advances have made interference and meddling easier than before, FBI Director Christopher Wray said Thursday.

“The U.S. has confronted foreign malign influence threats in the past,” Wray told a national security conference. “But this election cycle, the U.S. will face more adversaries, moving at a faster pace, and enabled by new technology.”

Wray singled out advances in generative AI, which he said had made it “easier for both more and less-sophisticated foreign adversaries to engage in malign influence.”

The remarks underscored escalating U.S. government concerns over sometimes hard-to-detect influence operations that are designed to shape public opinion. Though officials have not cited successful efforts by foreign governments to directly alter election results, they have sounded the alarms over the past decade about foreign influence campaigns….

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“RFK Jr.’s super PAC runs a $7M ad during the Super Bowl”


The super PAC backing Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s presidential campaign aired a costly Super Bowl ad that didn’t just draw direct parallels between the independent candidate and his uncle, former president John F. Kennedy — it also used the exact same ad template.

The ad — seen by tens of millions of viewers — comes as Democratic concerns grow that Kennedy’s presidential run could pose a threat to President Joe Biden in critical battleground states. And it was an unusual dose of Mad Men-era political nostalgia amid the high gloss slate of expensive commercials.

The biggest difference between the ad that ran Sunday night and the JFK ad that ran in 1960 was, perhaps, the cost. The ad run by The American Values 2024 in support of Robert Kennedy Jr. ran nationally and cost the super PAC $7 million, according to an official at the committee. In 1960, that would have been a roughly $675,000 expense for the John F. Kennedy Jr. campaign, according to inflation calculators.

Shortly after the ad aired, members of the Kennedy family took to X to express fury with it.

“My cousin’s Super Bowl ad used our uncle’s faces- and my Mother’s. She would be appalled by his deadly health care views. Respect for science, vaccines, & health care equity were in her DNA,” wrote Bobby Shriver, an activist and attorney.

Robert Kennedy Jr. responded apologetically by saying that the “ad was created and aired by the American Values Super PAC without any involvement or approval from my campaign. FEC rules prohibit Super PACs from consulting with me or my staff. I love you all. God bless you.”

As of Monday morning, however, the ad remained pinned to the top of his profile page on X.

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Special Counsel Report on Biden Classified Documents Probe Calls Him “a sympathetic, well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory.”

This is going to have big political implications. (quote is on p. 6 of the report)

More detail:

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“Trump’s PACs Spent Roughly $50 Million on Legal Expenses in 2023”


Donald J. Trump piled up legal expenses in 2023 as he was indicted four times, spending approximately $50 million in donor money on legal bills and investigation-related expenses last year, according to two people briefed on the figure.

It is a staggering sum. His lone remaining rival in the 2024 Republican primary, Nikki Haley, raised roughly the same amount of money across all her committees in the last year as Mr. Trump’s political accounts spent paying the bills stemming from his various legal defenses, including lawyers for witnesses….

Mr. Trump, who has long been loath to pay lawyers himself and has a history of stiffing those who represent him, has used funds in his political action committee, known as Save America, to underwrite his legal bills. The account was originally flooded with donations that were collected during the period immediately after the 2020 election when he was making widespread and false claims of voting fraud.

But with Save America’s coffers nearly drained last year, Mr. Trump sought to refill them through a highly unusual transaction: He asked for a refund of $60 million that he had initially transferred to a different group, a pro-Trump super PAC called MAGA Inc., to support his 2024 campaign.

In addition, Mr. Trump has been directing 10 percent of donations raised online to Save America, meaning 10 cents of every dollar he has received from supporters is going to a PAC that chiefly funds his lawyers.

Mr. Trump has paid legal expenses through both Save America and a second account, called the Make America Great Again PAC, which is an outgrowth of his 2020 re-election committee. In the first half of 2023, Save America transferred $5.85 million to the Make America Great Again PAC, which spent almost all of that sum on legal and investigation-related costs.

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“Biden Super PAC Plans a Historic $250 Million Ad Blitz”


The main Democratic super PAC supporting President Biden’s re-election bid, Future Forward, is beginning this week to reserve $250 million in advertising across the most important battleground states, a blitz that it says is the largest single purchase of political advertising by a super PAC in the nation’s history.

The ads, which are to be split between $140 million on television and $110 million on digital and streaming platforms, will start the day after the Democratic National Convention concludes in August and will run through Election Day, the super PAC said.

The ad reservation covers seven states that are seen as the main presidential battlegrounds: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The super PAC said it was reserving more than $16 million in broadcast and cable advertising in Atlanta and $12 million in the Phoenix TV markets — the biggest in the two states that Mr. Biden brought into the Democratic column in 2020 for the first time in years. It is also spending heavily in smaller markets in battleground states: $3 million each in Madison, Wis., and Reno, Nev., and $2 million in Flint, Mich.

The digital reservation includes roughly $35 million on YouTube, with more on other streaming platforms, including Hulu, Roku and Vevo, plus the streaming services of the Spanish-language giants Telemundo and Univision.

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