Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed creator of the Huey Report and direct mail expert, Craig Huey, in-studio to discuss possible campaign tactics that Odessa Kelly may use in the fight for Davidson County’s congressional seat.
Leahy: Our guest in studio, our good friend Craig Huey. So let’s talk about this congressional election in Davidson County. There is a primary challenge. Odessa Kelly, I guess the Justice Democrats are trying to make her the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of Nashville. Jim Cooper, I want to look at Jim Cooper’s electoral history.
He’s a Harvard grad. He’s about in his mid-sixties. He’s represented this district in Congress since 2002. He won in 2002. He beat Robert Duvall, who has been the chairman of the Davidson County GOP, 63.33 percent. In 2004 he had 69 percent. In 2006 he had 69 percent, 65 percent in 2008. In 2010, his closest challenge ever in the general election. That was the Tea Party year.
Huey: That was.
Leahy: He got 57 percent to David Halls 32 percent. Okay, so that tells you something right there. In all of these cases, the Republican was far outspent. Now, what’s interesting if you look at Cooper’s vulnerability in the primary last time, Keeda Haynes challenged him and lost 57 percent to 40 percent in the primary. Now, Keeda was underfinanced compared to him.
And I think she had sort of an unusual background. I think she had several run-ins with the law as a younger person, became a public defender. I think that’s the case. We’ll double-check on that. So now she has not been selected by the Justice Democrats to run. So they picked Odessa Kelly. We think she is likely to get quite a lot of money from around the country. And we think she’s got a good chance of beating them in the primary.
Huey: I think she can because she knows how to organize and mobilize. And that’s the key. I’m hoping a really great candidate steps forward to run against Cooper or against Odessa Kelly whoever wins that race.
Huey: On the Republican side.
Leahy: On the Republican side. And you’ve got some suggestions for how they could win. Now, remember, I would think that an underfinanced Republican, the high watermark, lost 57-42 in the general.
Leahy: But you think it’s possible that either running against Jim Cooper or Odessa Kelly in the general of 2022, a Republican could win if a, they start now and b they start thinking in terms of digital marketing. Tell us what would work.
Huey: Sure. So, Michael, 2022 is going to be a great year because you have people upset and angry about what’s happening in Washington, and they want to change it. And just like with the Tea Party, I think this will be a Tea Party on steroids, the reaction. And the key to this is that the candidate running understands they have to raise the money. If they don’t have the money, they have to raise the money. They can’t run just because they have better ideas.
Leahy: What! Let me just stop for a moment. A lot of our friends think I’ve got the answer. A lot of our conservatives. A lot of our Tea Party friends.
Huey: I see it all the time.
Leahy: I’ve got the answers. I’ll just go out and say those answers, and people will realize just how correct my answers are.
Huey: It doesn’t work.
Leahy: It doesn’t work?
Huey: It does not work. You’ve got to communicate and you have to mobilize.
Leahy: Now I’m disappointed. (Chuckles)
Huey: Oh, I’m sorry, but it’s the reality. But here’s the good part, Michael. Even in a Democratic district that has that advanced registration and a built-in Democratic vote, a Republican challenger can come in there and upset that election in 2022. But they have to be able to raise the money.
Leahy: How much money are we talking?
Huey: I would try to raise about four million.
Leahy: Four million? Have you ever run for Congress?
Huey: I have.
Leahy: Back in 2012? Was it 2012?
Huey: 2011 in a special election. And I ran in a district, that was 22 percent higher percentage of Democrats. And I shocked everybody with no name recognition. I ran against the mayor of the largest city. I ran against the California Secretary of state. I ran against the most powerful county of Los Angeles, a City of Los Angeles City Councilperson. I beat these people in the primary, which shocked the nation.
Leahy: So you won the primary?
Huey: I won the primary. I shouldn’t have. I won the primary.
Leahy: Yes, you should of. (Huey chuckles) Because you use your marketing techniques.
Huey: Yes, I’ll tell you about that. So, Michael, what happened then was that Obama brought in his Organizing for America and used my campaign as his test campaign of using data and digital marketing to tie it to get out the vote. And so I saw what was happening and he was out-marketing me. And it was unbelievable what he had developed.
I needed to switch 2,000 votes, and I would have won that race. I was outspent eight to one. And I could have won it. But here’s what needs to be done and what my opponent in that race and what Odessa will be doing. They will be marketing by developing data. They will have petitions. They will have petitions to parents about schools. They will have petitions about better roads.
They will have petitions about some issue in Washington, D.C. identifying their voters. They will create digital ads where once somebody signs a petition or goes to our website, the ad will follow them around wherever they go, whether they’re on Facebook or Google. And so there will be a campaign to be able to market and build that database.
Leahy: Why are they building the database?
Huey: They’re building it so that they can then communicate with those people that they have on the database to get them to the poll. It’s get out the vote. They make sure that they have identified enough voters to overwhelm Cooper. And that’s what she’s going to do. And not only that, she’s going to use techniques like geo-fencing. She’s going to geo-fence every church. Anybody who goes to a church on Sunday, she collects the data to send them a video or a Facebook ad. That’s just one of the techniques. And are the Republicans going to do this?
Leahy: So let’s step back. First, you need a candidate. Second, he needs to raise he or she needs to raise four million dollars. Okay, then what do they need to do then? This is for the Republican to win the general election against either Jim Cooper or Odessa Kelly.
Huey: I recommend they don’t hire a Republican consultant. (Laughs)
Leahy: Now, first, you said something very important. I think that’s good. And why should they not hire Republican consultants?
Huey: Because they’re marketing as if it was 20 years ago.
Leahy: They’re doing TV ads.
Huey: They waste money on TV ads. They don’t understand how to get out the vote or even training. Michael, what Odessa will do is she’ll have somebody coming to the door saying, hey, I see on this petition, you believe in better education. Well, so does Odessa. Now, I want to make sure that you go to the poll on Tuesday. Can I drive you to the poll? Oh, I can’t drive you to the poll? Well, maybe what I can do is come back. I’ll come back after Tuesday. I’ll knock on your door, and I’ll say, how did it go at the poll? It increases turnout by 10 percent. These are the tactics that these people use and we have to use too.
Leahy: Well they are clever. And, by the way, Odessa Kelly, we’re just telling the world your campaign strategy here based on experience. You’re welcome to come in and tell us if we’ve got it wrong. (Huey chuckles)
Listen to the third hour here:
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