In near-daily conference calls during the campaign in Florida’s 13th district, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Karl Rove-led American Crossroads and the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity -- among others -- fine-tuned their strategy targeting Democratic candidate Alex Sink.
The Republican collaboration included a synchronized television- and web-ad plan, a battery of anti-Sink mailers and a last-minute recorded voter appeal by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky to suffocate support for a third-party candidate who threatened to draw votes from Jolly.
“We’ve worked closely with outside groups in the past, but with Florida-13, we took it to a new level with the depth of our cooperation,” said Carl Forti, political director of American Crossroads, a super-political action committee with ties to Rove, former president George W. Bush’s chief political adviser.
“From strategy to message to timing, everything was integrated and working together,” Forti said. “I would expect to see that again in key races.”
In the midterm elections four years ago -- which saw Republicans win the U.S. House of Representatives -- the groups, parties and candidates found ways to maximize the impact of their efforts within the new legal framework. For example, the NRCC in 2010 broke tradition by publicly revealing its ad-buying strategy, which meant the friendly outside groups could fill-in around it or add volume.
Coordination continued in 2012, when Crossroads officials led weekly conferences among the big outside spenders. The special House election in Florida foreshadows the refinement of those earlier efforts. For instance, the sequencing and messaging of the TV ads aimed at helping Jolly was seamless.