We have been dying to tell you of our amazing and unexpected journey that started in August. Please read about our election victories (and one big gut-wrenching loss) in each region of the country last night, and/or skip to the bottom to take our survey of the most important issues.
Prior to taking leaves in August, our Take Back Our Republic Action team built dozens of door-to-door canvassing teams and field operations in multiple states in anticipation of passing Final Five legislation.
Although those ballot campaigns did not emerge at that point, we knew that the structure we had built was too good to waste, and that there was a lot of pressing work to be done for the country. So several team members decided to take unpaid leaves of absence from TBOR Action and spend a couple of months doing what we all did before forming TBOR Action in 2015: running elections.
Since TBOR Action cannot endorse candidates, we couldn’t update you on these efforts until voting was complete. But now, we are happy to report on the efforts in the Northeast, South, West, and the Midwest.
MIDWEST - Legislative Win but Wisconsin Governor’s Loss
Let’s get the tough heart-breaking loss out of the way first. The biggest effort of the cycle was John Pudner who took leave to throw himself into one race as Deputy Campaign Manager for Michels for Governor. At the time, Nate Silver gave Michels just a 20% chance to defeat Democratic Governor Tony Evers.
Being outspent $5 million to $0.2 million in our 2014 upset win over Eric Cantor was nothing compared to the dollar discrepancy we would face this year in Wisconsin — a gap of an estimated $45 million (approximately $91.6 million to $45 million). However, from August 14 up until the weekend of the election the Michels campaign surged more than perhaps any other campaign in the country, moving from that initial 20% chance of winning to Nate Silver pegging it in this forecast as the closest Governor’s race in the country the final week.
We were able to oversee teams knocking on 22,000 doors to help deliver a tough legislative district by a 2-to-1 margin in another race. However, despite a great team on the Governor’s race and bringing in the door canvassing teams for 70,000 door knocks at the end of the Michels for Governor race, it was not enough as he fell to Governor Tony Evers to make Democratic Governors 12-0 against their Republican challengers through midnight of election night until … (see Nevada below). Here is the list of money spent by liberal groups (left below) and conservative groups (right below on this campaign).
One expenditure of special note on this table is more than $600,000 spent on direct mail, digital ads and texts to convince Republican voters to stay home or split the conservative vote with a candidate on the ballot, even though she had actually endorsed the Republican Michels. (see NewsMax article)
This drain on an already outspent Michels campaign is yet another argument for how Final Five would save Republicans from these kind of attacks, which leads us from the bad night in Wisconsin to the great night in Nevada.
WEST - Double Win? Door Canvassers May Propel Lombardo to Gov Same Day Final Five Passes
As for where the rest of the team besides Pudner went on their leaves, the place we had hoped to knock on hundreds of thousands of doors was Nevada, where Issue 3 was on the ballot to enact a Final Five law we have advocated throughout the country. While we did not end up going to Nevada to oversee efforts, it may be the state we are most excited about on election night.
While our door knocking effort was ultimately not needed for the Issue 3 effort, and no team members therefore needed to travel to Nevada to oversee efforts, the door knocking teams instead turned their attention to Joe Lombardo’s race to unseat Democrat Governor Steve Sisolak.
The teams knocked on 371,000 doors for Lombardo, with teams that included Spanish Speakers. As of 5 am Eastern Lombardo had surged to a 50.2 to 46.2 percent lead to be on the verge of ending the Democratic Governor’s 12-0 mark for the night. If that holds, it could also indirectly give Republicans their 50th Senate seat as Paul Laxalt leads by 2 points at 5 a.m. ET, a result that would put control of the US Senate in the hands of another Georgia runoff.
While the door-to-door canvassers were not needed for the Nevada campaign for Issue 3, that race was also incredibly well run and the YES vote is now leading 51.6% to 48.4% at the same time the Republican Senate and Gubernatorial Challengers hold leads as well. As we write often on these pages, Republicans really should support Final Five to ensure it takes a majority to win an election and mitigate against spoiler conservative 3rd party candidates.
If Nevada delivers two Republican challenger wins the same night they deliver Final Five, this could be a great development for races to come.
Our one other Western race was Blake Masters in Arizona, where we flew between Michels primary win and general election kickoff. We will not know the winner there until November 18.
NORTHEAST – Babilon Delivers Senate Race in Blue Maine
As reported on these pages in January, TBOR Action Northeast Director Johnny Babilon was already building an organization in Maine.
When our decision was made in August to take unpaid leaves, Babilon took leave to work with the Maine Senate Republicans to elect Matt Harrington. It is always tough for Republicans in the Northeast, but this tightly contested seat was won by the coordination of volunteers on a strenuous door-to-door program to inform voters about the candidates and their vision to Move Maine Forward.
Only 13 of 35 Senate Republican candidates won in Maine, so truly a hard fought victory when Harrington emerged with a 54% to 46% victory last night.
SOUTH – Shocker in Louisiana
In the South, Byron Shehee took on the race of Tom Arceneaux to see if an uptick in support for Republicans among Black Americans might translate into giving a Republican a chance to make a runoff in Shreveport, Louisiana, which is 57% black. The campaign argued that Democrats across the country had mismanaged governments, neglected their duties, and listened to far-left activists who pushed the Democrat platform and policies so far to the extreme that many older Democrats could no longer recognize their grandfather’s party. It may have seemed impossible for a Republican to win a majority-minority district on a night that did not present the red wave some had forecast, but Arceneaux’s campaign focused on the issues impacting his voters and gained their support and trust. The result was a shocking success as Arceneaux not only defeated the incumbent Mayor, but finished in first place to head into a runoff to become the city's Mayor.
Staff Returns to Full-time with TBOR Action Today
We are back full-time with TBOR Action, happy to have taken a couple of months back in the political world to have a firm grasp of how Final Five might be received both in legislative caucuses and at the ballot box in states that allow Initiative and Referendum.
Now, with updated methods from our wins in all four regions of the country - as well as always learning more from losses like the heart-breaking Wisconsin Governor’s race - we are glad to be back dedicating our efforts to election reform. Sometimes you need to play the game before you can effectively work to update the rules – and this is one game that is very important effort to Take Back Our Republic Action.
We also want to reach back out to you, our supporters, to see which of our issues you’d like to see highlighted. Some supporters want us to focus exclusively on Final Five and Election Reform, while many others have suggested other issues they believe would be great additions to our overall reform effort. Please click on this survey and take a minute to tell us which issues you believe are the highest priority. At the other extreme note if we list an issue you do not support and on which you’d prefer we not engage, we want to hear about that also. Thank you for your valuable input!
With our Republic’s future at stake with the midterm elections, we couldn’t sit on the sidelines and decided to lend our election expertise to critical races around the country.
John Pudner, President
Take Back Our Republic Action