Tuesday, August 05, 2008

CAMPAIGN 2008 MAIL CALL: 4 Days Worth of Mail

I’ve gotten a little behind in my survey of campaign literature from my mailbox. This report will encompass multiple days. I think the haul includes Thursday, July 31st through August 4th. Regardless, I still haven’t received my early ballot in the mail. So, in no particular order:

Mark Anderson, Republican for the United States House of Representatives from CD5 – The Anderson postcard on national security again highlights a quote from Arizona House Speaker Jim Weiers. The “Capture of Osama bin Laden and Defeat Al-Qaeda” gets only 20% of the attention on the back along with “Secure the Border,” “Support Second Amendment Rights,” and “Take Care of Veterans”. Those are all laudable stances but I wish real national security issues would get more attention in the CD5 race. Relative to his opponents, its good to see even this inadequate treatment of foreign affairs. Iran, anyone? I know it’s not popular to be a foreign policy hawk these days but if one of the Republican candidates was one, I don’t know it. Grade: B-

Jeff Dial, Republican for the Arizona House of Representatives from LD20 – Jeff’s latest mailing gets extra credit because it includes the words “Lower Gas Prices” which is a nice recognition of the voters’ number one economic concern right now. I’m sure these pieces were designed months ago, perhaps even in 2007. At least someone in the Dial campaign had the presence on mind to update the message with a nod toward fuel prices. Nice catch. Again, Jeff has stuck with his theme and design from his prior mailings and signs. Grade: A-

Andy Swann, Republican for the Arizona House of Representatives from LD20 – Andy’s first mailer stresses his impressive list of endorsements ranging from a long list of law enforcement groups to the Tempe Chamber of Commerce to the Arizona Republic. Not bad for a first time politician. The look and feel of his mail piece is consistent with other elements of his campaign (signs, website) which is something I appreciate when grading. Grade: B+

John McComish, Republican for the Arizona House of Representatives from LD20 – John McComish is the lone incumbent in the primary for LD20 House. His first piece to hit my mailbox has a nice photo of the candidate and what looks like a version of his signs in red and yellow on the address-block side. I’ve seen a few of these signs out on the roadways but in much lower frequency than his opponents (Dial, Swann and Schmuck). On the other side the McComish campaign highlights his business community leadership. All in all, a nice start. I realize he’s the incumbent, but in this volatile political year, I expected a more vigorous campaign from the only non-publicly funded candidate in the race. But maybe he’s got a “shock and awe” strategy that’s forthcoming. We’ll see. Grade: B+

Susan Bitter Smith, Republican for the United States House of Representatives from CD5 – “Stopping Illegal Immigration must be a top priority,” says Susan Bitter Smith in her latest 8 by 12 inch piece. Again Sheriff Arpaio’s endorsement is featured. Well, perhaps an all-illegal-immigration-all-the-time campaign will work for the primary. The problem is, former Congressman J.D. Hayworth tried it in his failed re-election bid in 2006 and got smoked. And he was the incumbent with a 17-point voter registration advantage. I’m eager to see what the Bitter Smith campaign has to say about other issues. Maybe she has something to say about Iran… maybe? Grade: B-

David Schweikert, Republican for the United States House of Representatives from CD5 – My wife (not the “household” as is common) got a hand-addressed envelope with a typical (non-political) return address sticker with a pink ribbon (breast cancer? – I lost track years ago what all the different colors mean) from “Joyce Schweikert”. It also has a regular first class stamp on it and looks like something a friend would send. Inside is a two-page letter “from the desk of Joyce Schweikert” written in a handwritingesque font plus a sharp glossy photo of David and the misses with a quasi-handwritten Post-It note stuck on it. There are also a couple of reply postcards to endorse and sign up for yard signs and the like. I think this is the best “political mailing of the year” so far. It’s creative, nicely packaged and powerful. Grade: A

Mark Anderson, Republican for the United States House of Representatives from CD5 – The Anderson campaign’s next piece has the candidate’s portrait picture over a nice scene of a mountain and a field of yellow flowers. Nice image but the better shot would have been to have Mark in that field, maybe with his family, instead of just employing stock photos. Before opening it up, I assumed this piece was about his commitment to the environment or something like that. However, it’s a tri-fold brochure with lots and lots of text. It has a few nice postage-stamp-sized photos of Mark with John McCain, Mitt Romney, a serviceman and Ken Bennett and Jim Weiers. These should have been much larger. It wouldn’t be a Mark Anderson mail piece without a glowing quote from Speaker Jim Weiers and this one is no different. I see the Anderson campaign working hard. They clearly have a strategy to hit high propensity voters in their mailbox over and over again. All this is great. But knowing this, I wish they would have broken up his message into 3-5 topics and have a mailer concentrating on each one in short, easy to remember language. Instead, I think each of these mailings try to cover all of the bases as if it’s the only mail piece a voter is going to see. They are making sure that’s not the case by their strategy. Honestly, I’m not reading them all and I’m paying attention. Grade: C-

Kevin Hartke, Candidate for the nonpartisan Chandler City Council – Hartke is running for re-election to the city council and his postcard mailer has a long and impressive list of endorsements. It looks nice and matches the signs I’ve seen around town which is a big plus with me. Grade: B

RNC Victory 2008 – A letter from the RNC’s Victory 2008 committee is “from” John McCain and has a “membership statement” in it like I’m continuing my magazine subscription. Ho-hum. Grade: D

John McComish, Republican for the Arizona House of Representatives from LD20 – John McComish’s second mail piece boldly proclaims “The Authority on Education” which is what the state legislature spends most of its time and our money on. It has four bullet points detailing his views and accomplishments on education and an invitation to get more information on his website (
www.jmccomish.com). It’s a clear and direct message that doesn’t feel like it needs to download everything to the voter all in one postcard. Good piece. Grade: B

David Schweikert, Republican for the United States House of Representatives from CD5 – The Schweikert campaign sent a postcard pushing his conservative credentials and highlighting his endorsement by the Club for Growth and by Arizona Right to Life. It’s nice but nothing special. Grade: B-

John Huppenthal, Republican for the Arizona Senate from LD20 – We got two identical letters from John Huppenthal’s campaign instead of the “household” mailing. That’s OK but the campaign could have saved the postage if they sent only one to the both of us. However, this is a very different kind of political mailing. My wife and I gave $5 contributions to John Huppenthal for his Clean Elections funding. These letters were “thank you’s” and a further call for $5 contributions. A Clean Elections form is enclosed and a stamped self-addressed envelope too. So a total of $1.68 in postage was dedicated to this mailing to us! Yikes. Huppenthal does not have any primary opponent so his tardiness in collecting his Clean Elections funding is not fatal. But in a down year for Republicans, he really needs to check this Clean Elections box as soon as he can so he can hit the campaign trail hard after the primary. I don’t really see any Huppenthal signs up yet either. Grade: D-

Susan Bitter Smith, Republican for the United States House of Representatives from CD5 – “Stop Illegal Immigration, Signed the ‘No New Taxes’ Pledge and Drill for Oil in ANWR and Offshore” is the theme of this brighter 8 by 12 inch piece which is an improvement over earlier, darker mailers. That Arpaio dude is prominently featured again. Grade: B

Jim Ogsbury, Republican for the United States House of Representatives from CD5 – The Ogsbury campaign sends a nice postcard with the “front” side claiming Jim’s the “Real Conservative for Congress” and listing his top four priorities, securing the border, cutting federal spending, cutting taxes and lowering energy prices. These are all laudable goals. What I really like is the address-block side where he has three photos with the following headers: “Energy prices skyrocket: And Congress takes a vacation” then “The economy slows: And Congress keeps spending” and finally “Our borders are open: And Congress looks the other way”. This is perfect messaging on domestic affairs. Still, no real discussion of foreign and national security policy (come on, illegal immigration is not the kind on national security problem I referring too.) Grade: A-

Jack Sellers, Candidate for the nonpartisan Chandler City Council – Sellers sends a magazine-like mailer that’s a carbon copy of his yard signs (good) on the cover but rather wordy on the inside. But assuming he doesn’t have a huge war chest, I’ll give him a break on that this time. He’s endorsed by current Chandler mayor Boyd Dunn and former mayors Jerry Brooks and Jay Tibshraeny. But his endorsements don’t end there. He lists in fine print on the back page a list of equally impressive endorsements including Secretary of State Jan Brewer, the Chandler Chamber of Commerce, County Supervisor Fulton Brock and the Chandler Law Enforcement Association to name a few. He really should highlight those folks more than he does in this piece. Also, it’s not often a candidate puts his actual age on his mail pieces. Sellers does (he’s 65). I guess the seniors vote will be decisive in the Sellers campaign’s estimate. But there’s no chance these older voters will ever be able to read the tiny-lettered endorsement list. Grade: C+

John McCain, Republican for President of the United States – The McCain campaign sent a fundraising appeal with a nice photo of John and Cindy McCain. Grade: B+

Laura Knaperek, Republican for the United States House of Representatives from CD5 – I thought I was getting a coupon from Kellogg's for its Special K cereal but instead it’s a Laura Knaperek mailer… “because it will take a Special Congresswoman to get Washington on a Diet of Change”. The entire piece takes elements from the cereal box and transforms them into campaign appeals. Even a mock UPC barcode is shown with VOTE 09.02.08 underneath. This appeal is clearly aimed at women and is clever. But is it to flippant? Is it serious enough for these serious times? It seems like a single shot mailer that (I hope) is not part of an overall theme. Grade: C-

Sorry for the mailbox dump all at once. I’ll try and make future reports shorter and more frequent.

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