Days 61 and 62: 7/20/19-7/21/19

The weekend saw 94 emails roll in from 19 campaigns. 48 of those emails arrived in my non-donor inbox, while the other 46 came from 17 campaigns emailing their donors. Though everyone was still asking for money, not many campaigns were asking for exact dollar amounts.

Some interesting oddities here.

Tim Ryan, unsurprisingly, was the most vocal campaign this weekend, sending 6 emails in 3 days, followed by Amy Klobuchar and Joe Biden at 5 each. Joe Sestak actually became talkative this weekend, nearly doubling the total amount of emails he had sent me over the course of his entire campaign. Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, and Bernie Sanders all sent me an extra email as a donor, usually referencing donor-specific things. However, it was Bill de Blasio that really caught my eye.

de Blasio has never been exceptionally talkative. He came out swinging hard against #ConDon back in May, but he hasn’t referenced that hashtag since the last debates. However, after I made a donation to him, he emailed me 12 times as a non-donor and 6 times as a donor. As a donor, de Blasio hasn’t reached out to me since July 11. His last 3 emails only went to non-donor me, but none of them seemed to be non-donor specific. It’s almost as if he has the opposite problem that Tulsi Gabbard did. Instead of being disinterested in people who haven’t given him money, he’s disinterested once he gets money. It’s… definitely an interesting choice, and I suspect not done intentionally.

Since writing that last line, I decided to actually go and check Bill de Blasio’s FEC filings. Though not every contribution is listed, it can give a good idea of how much people are donating in general.

By the time I got through the first 100 smallest donations to de Blasio, I had already reached values of $150. Many of his donations were maxed out $2,800, meaning that de Blasio’s donors are largely already completely tapped out, so there really might not be much worth in sending them emails.

(In comparison, I checked out Tim Ryan’s receipts. Both candidates raised around $1 million total so far. The first 100 smallest donations for Ryan ended with donations of $25.)

That does lead me down the rabbithole of money and obligations. Much ado is made about who is giving how much to the front runner candidates, with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren making a lot of noise about their grassroots campaigns and no private donors, etc. etc. They argue that by not taking big money, they are not beholden to big money and therefore better able to fight for the little guy. (This is also Tom Steyer’s argument, pointing out that the big money he takes is already his, so he’s only beholden to himself.) de Blasio is taking a lot of “big money” from donors and now changing his tune so he’s not so much anti-Trump and is instead pro-his NYC record.

I can’t help but wonder if the two are related, or if de Blasio realized that only focusing on Trump wasn’t getting him very far.

Emails have become predictable now that the debates are here.

While many candidates were talking about their debate prep and wanting my opinion on what they should talk about and suggesting I donate to maybe win a trip to see them or host a watch party, there was one candidate talking about a climate debate.

Well. Two. Two candidates were.

Tim is eager to get to Detroit and unpack his plan and vision for the country. Access to affordable health care, lowering prescription drug prices, taking a holistic approach to education — there is so much that Tim wants to share with the American people…

But I know there’s one issue, in particular, he wants to devote a considerable amount of time to: climate change.

It may not be the climate debate Tim’s been asking for, but he is committed to making it a priority for the discussion.

Morley, Tim Ryan for America

Apparently, Tim Ryan has been asking for a climate debate. Sure, he’s mentioned climate plenty of times in emails before, but usually in a list of major issues facing America today, including health care, jobs, and the crisis at the border. This is the very first time “climate debate” showed up in an email from Ryan.

Do you know who has actually been emailing me about a climate debate? Jay Inslee.

This wasn’t even the first time I got this email.

I don’t know if Ryan’s been asking for a climate debate in interviews and articles and appearances, as I’m only tracking all of the candidates via their emails, but Inslee certainly has been email-vocal about demanding a climate debate. Apparently Ryan is now on his side.

Cory Booker went aggressive this week, calling out Trump twice for his racism and xenophobia.

In the face of so much hatred, it’s time to show unrelenting courage in both standing up to Trump and fighting to make sure our country lives up to its most fundamental values. In a moment like this, there’s a moral imperative for all of us to speak out — to unequivocally take a side against this attack.

Cory Booker

John Hickenlooper also spoke out against Trump, encouraging everyone to check on their neighbors and make sure they’re okay, especially in light of the ICE raids.

Both candidates heavily suggested that donations to their campaigns would help fight racism.

Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg both sent emails about the Apollo 11 moon landing, which celebrated its 50th anniversary this weekend. They both reflected on what it meant and celebrated America’s strength when it is united.

In that moment, we weren’t thinking about being Democrats or Republicans. We weren’t thinking about a way to contort the nation’s victory in favor of one political faction or another. We were in that moment, quite simply, Americans — joined together in our wonder, awe, and shared humanity.

This is what we’re capable of doing when we choose to work together — when we come together in service of something larger than ourselves.

Joe Biden

When President Kennedy challenged the nation to reach the moon within a decade, it was an almost absurdly audacious objective. But roughly 400,000 Americans dedicated themselves to the task, from engineers and mechanics to secretaries and factory workers. By some estimates, the United States spent $288 billion in today’s dollars on the Apollo program. And we didn’t just reach the moon — we got there a year ahead of schedule.

 As we stand on the verge of a new American era, it has never been more urgent that we summon that ambition again. From devastating hurricanes in Puerto Rico to raging infernos in California, we face the life-and-death challenge of a changing climate. 

Pete Buttigieg

Both candidates asked for a donation (Biden with his usual spread of donation buttons, Buttigieg with a “chip in to support our campaign to win the era” link), but while Biden spoke generally of an America capable of doing great things when it comes together, Buttigieg spoke specifically about turning that ambition toward not only tackling climate change, but getting ahead of it just as we had with the space race. These emails arrived back to back on Saturday, and it was very interesting to see the difference in tone and message between one of the oldest and the youngest candidates.

Amy Klobuchar asked me to split a donation with Amy McGrath as the Outside ask.

An interesting Info this week came from Joe Sestak. Sestak has been quietly trying to pick up steam in Iowa, and from the sounds of his weekend updates, he’s been successful. Unfortunately for Sestak, he still hasn’t figured out this whole email thing.

3 of his 4 emails this weekend have started with a header. CUP OF JOE ended up being a ridiculously long list of lists interspersed with pictures: recent events, policies, news about Sestak, future events, and past events. As an example of how long this was, his policy list was just his “key priorities,” with more information available on his conveniently linked website.

He had 16 bullet points in that list.

After his CUP OF JOE, he sent me JOE ON THE ISSUES, where he talked about some opinion pieces he had written for Iowa papers and encouraged me to read them.

An ask for a donation came in his third email of the weekend. Only $1, he’s not asking much, he just wants to get on the debate stage.

Finally, he finished up with JOE IN THE POLLS.

There isn’t a big money campaign yet, but my message of accountability to unite this nation is already getting out: In the latest YouGov Iowa poll, I’m even with great candidates like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Governor John Hickenlooper and Reps. Beto O’Rourke and John Delaney – and ahead of fine candidates who’ve been in the race much longer, like Senator Michael Bennet, Governors Jay Inslee and Steve Bullock, Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, Tim Ryan and Seth Moulton, and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Joe Sestak

I don’t know if it speaks highly of Sestak that he’s tied with Kirsten Gillibrand, John Hickenlooper, Beto O’Rourke, and John Delaney, or if it speaks poorly of those four. As Sestak said, they’ve all been in the race for much longer.

Kirsten Gillibrand is definitely struggling. I feel like every time she sets a fundraising goal, she ends up following up with an email about how they didn’t make their goal and are extending the deadline. She had set a goal for this weekend: 3,000 new donors and/or $50,000 raised for digital ads (depending on if I could be a new donor or not). As of Sunday evening, she was $8,644 and 549 donors short of her goals. Constantly failing to hit goals is not a very optimistic sign of a campaign’s health. I’m not sure if Gillibrand is either setting goals that are too lofty, or if her fundraising is drying up faster than she anticipated, but neither is a good outcome.

Beto O’Rourke is also fighting to turn his campaign around. His campaign manager reached out first:

We’re not going to send you 10 emails a day or burn down the campaign to scrape that last dollar. That’s not how we roll — not Beto, and not our team. Still, I want to make sure you know the stakes. We have the resources we need to fight in the long run, but if we don’t do better this quarter, we’re going to have to make some uncomfortable adjustments.

Jen O’Malley Dillon, Campaign Manager, Beto for America

I appreciate the promise not to spam my inbox. I can’t honestly see it getting results. Regardless, it’s there in writing: no spam.

O’Rourke followed up this promise with a pep talk. At least, I think it was supposed to be a pep talk.

We’re doing the right thing, we’re doing it at the right time, and I’m convinced that we’re doing it in the right way. First and foremost, our campaign has been funded by all people, no PACs. No corporations, lobbyists, or special interests either…

What I see and feel on the ground is amazing. Last weekend in Nashua, Andover, Manchester, Peterborough, Amherst. It’s real. I see it in Iowa, in Williams — population 330 — where a third of that number came out to see us. What I’m learning, how we’re connecting and how we’re building our team and our commitments. I absolutely saw it in Nashville and in Minneapolis. I feel it in South Carolina. I feel it in Nevada. And Texas is still the source of the opportunity, the energy, and the model for how we do this. 

I see it in our team. In the dedication, the work that they’re doing, the level of sacrifice they’ve offered to this country. Their faces — the smiles, the energy, the determination. It’s all amazing.

Despite all of this, there is definitely a disconnect between what the political pundits see versus what we see on the ground. There are many reasons for that. I’ve received a million pieces of advice on how to make it better. Ultimately it comes down to me. Me doing the best possible job when I have the chance to talk to a national audience. Me doing as well as possible in the debates. And it also means me being me. We’ve got to show all the ways this campaign is different from any other, and why that matters when it comes to why we can win…

At times like this, I think it’s helpful to think back to why we’re doing this in the first place. For me, it’s my kids — the very real knowledge that they’re counting on me and on all of us. The horror show that is this administration, the open cruelty and racism, the tearing down of so much of what made us good to begin with. The unmet challenges of climate change and gun violence. 

I want my kids to be excited about the future, not afraid of it. I want the world to be better for them. So I’m trying to be better and do better for them. I can’t let them down.

Beto O’Rourke

Unfortunately, by the end of his pep talk, I wasn’t excited for the future of O’Rourke’s campaign. I do like O’Rourke as a person. As a campaign, O’Rourke’s on the better end of emails–I like reading what he has to say. I really appreciate how he can connect to the individual in front of him, and how he has fought hard for the immigrants of his home city of El Paso. I think he is a great man to have in public service, fighting to make lives better.

I don’t seem him doing well as President.

O’Rourke seems to be hitting the same stumbling blocks again and again. He has gaffes when he speaks reminiscent of Biden, and he seems to prefer the micro focus of one-on-one or small groups. O’Rourke really seems to shine when he’s helping someone he can see, talk to, and touch (with permission). With over 327 million people in the U.S.A., the President cannot afford to focus on the micro view. From what, admittedly little, I’ve seen of him, O’Rourke doesn’t seem able to make that jump to addressing the nation as a collective.

Just to be clear, there is nothing wrong with that. It is actually a great mentality for a U.S. Representative, and possibly even a Senator. Being hyper aware of each individual you represent and listening to them individually and finding common threads among their unique stories are all great qualities to have as a Congressman. But the President is not a Congressman (or woman). It is not a bigger version of a member of Congress, it is not the “next logical step.” Members of Congress and the President are in two very different and distinct branches of government for a reason, and strength in one does not mean strength in both. O’Rourke ran a great campaign as a Congressman. Maybe that’s where his focus should return.

The 4 front runners by polling have all sent more than 90 emails in 62 days.

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