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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Outside Groups and the GOP

At The New York Times, Nicholas Confessore reports on how American Crossroads and other outside groups are overshadowing the formal GOP party organization -- but with the latter's cooperation.
"I love the fact that Crossroads is up there with these huge ad buys softening Claire McCaskill or Jon Tester or whoever it is,” said Rick Wiley, the Republican National Committee’s political director, referring to two Democratic senators high on Republicans’ target list for next year.

The emerging Republican network is changing not only campaigns, but also Washington’s political culture. If the older generation of independent expenditure groups was a career backwater, popping into existence for a cycle or two before disbanding or fading, the new groups are attracting some of the party’s top talent.

The Congressional Leadership Fund and its sister group, the American Action Network, are run by Brian O. Walsh, who was political director of the National Republican Congressional Committee in the 2010 cycle, when the party gained 63 House seats.

“Suddenly, there is this new avenue that allows you to use your skills and talents in an entirely new way,” Mr. Walsh said.

One major innovation this election cycle will be the outsourcing of the Republican Party’s voter list, its most valuable asset but one that is enormously expensive to keep current. In August, the Republican National Committee signed a contract to let the Data Trust, a new outside group run by the committee’s former chief of staff, manage the database.

Data Trust will be allowed to swap the list with other outside groups, which can use money raised outside federal contribution limits to update it. Under current law, the improved list can then be used by the Republican National Committee, potentially saving the party millions of dollars.