Koch Operatives Discuss 2014 Senate Strategy
AUDIO OBTAINED FROM SOURCE WHO WAS PRESENT.
MORNING SESSION: THE STRATEGY IN ACTION // PART 1 OF 2
June 16, 2014
MARC SHORT, PRESIDENT OF FREEDOM PARTNERS,
TIM PHILLIPS, PRESIDENT OF AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY
Immediate Opportunities to Defend Freedom"
P R O C E E D I N G S
KEVIN GENTRY: Just a couple of items. You all have given us some great feedback over the last 24 hours, and we try to respond to that. I do want to, uh, uh, I think the one thing we addressed late yesterday, and that was those of you who would be willing to help with op-eds, letters, publications, really appreciate those (inaudible).
Let's be clear. We're very appreciative. We understand that a number of you are in the retail business or whatever it is. You really would prefer to keep your confidentiality. We are not pressing you to do anything that's beyond -- for your survival. So, so for those of you have said you would love to do it (inaudible), but certainly want as much as you can.
The second item of feedback was that a number of you (inaudible) this is a beautiful location you all picked for the meeting. And um, and so actually in response to that, what we want to do (inaudible) a moment, where you have a, a place (inaudible) where you can get your picture taken. Well, in the spirit of what we have, we have our friend, Harry Reid --
KEVIN GENTRY: And what we're going to do -- thank you, Harry. I don't know if you've ever heard him say the words "un-American." But we're going to put this up on the terrace. If you want your picture taken with Harry Reid at the uh, St. Regis (inaudible) you can do that.
KEVIN GENTRY: The other, uh, item is that you all have been very nice about giving me feedback about how you know, you appreciate trying to keep us on schedule and notice (inaudible) up here sometimes to (inaudible). And I realize I don't have the gumption (inaudible). So what we're going to do from now on, if somebody goes over time, is first you're going to hear -- you're going to hear -- (Harry Reid buzzer saying "un-American").
KEVIN GENTRY: Okay, so that's the enforcement. You're going to be (inaudible) out, called out (inaudible) if you go over time.
KEVIN GENTRY: All right. In the spirit of that, Tim Phillips, Marc Short, come on up! (Inaudible).
KEVIN GENTRY: Welcome. By the way, you also have some comment cards on your, uh, tables, so if at any moment, any point you would, uh, have some questions you would like us to address this morning, it may be easier (inaudible) throughout the rest of the morning.
Okay. So we're at the point now where yesterday we talked about three big, long-term items on, uh, the driving the national conversation, uh, working with, uh, universities, also ad, ad, advancing in the states. I think that really -- I think the federal impact, but at the end of the day it's the electoral nature of stuff. And I want to give some of you all a context, uh, for what we've been doing with the network, particularly for those of you who are relatively new.
So as Charles mentioned, we first (inaudible) 2003, 2004, 2005. Uh, that was during the, uh, the Bush years. Frankly, those Bush years (inaudible) Republican majority (inaudible) dah, dah, dah. Anyway, we were trying to build this group together, but we really weren't focusing on building electoral capabilities. There was, there was a lot of the stuff for higher education for which we are now seeing the product of that investment many years ago, and also building the grassroots capabilities, such as Americans for Prosperity. Many of you in this room started building in your states -- in Ohio, in New Jersey, in Oregon, in Minnesota, and that was another aspect of it.
But after the 2008 election, of course, uh, we realized (inaudible) 2008, that it was very likely John McCain was not going to win the election, and we focused on the Senate races (inaudible) and the Supreme Court (inaudible). But after 2008, this group focused on (inaudible) one was "survival threat injury" of, of that dreaded (inaudible) Obamacare (inaudible) campaign, unique capabilities, but also we would begin to build election capabilities for 2010.
And you all remember, you were a part of it, the analysis was an element in stopping the worst threat from the Obama juggernaut was to try to flip control of one House. And we looked at the House of Representatives –- you all pooled your resources -- $110 million dollars in 2010. Very prioritized, and it was very strategic, very systematic. And with your help, we were successful.
Now, some of you remember what happened in that context as well. Remember the Citizens United decision after Obama was elected, which really flipped him out? Remember him chastising the Supreme Court at the State of the Union address in 2010? Very, uh, unbecoming for the President of the United States to call them out. And he really fixated on you all in this room, as Mark has said, which is also (inaudible) Rules for Radicals, because you, you know, they're much stronger (inaudible) vilify us and go after us.
Those of you remember our January 2011 meeting. Uh, this was the -- what we were met with in Palm Springs. Uh, this was an organized effort by labor unions from Los Angeles and others to try to intimidate us. Um, we now know that this was largely organized by Van Jones, an alumnus from the Obama Administration, who organized the Occupy Wall Street movement.
That was not a spontaneous, organic grassroots effort, by the way, just so you know. That was an effort organized by Van Jones. Uh, so this was more, you know –- you all are it. You all are what are (inaudible) standing between, you know, a free America, and collectivism, and this is how they, uh see it.
So just to put this in the context of where we are in these elections, after 2008, (inaudible) three capabilities (inaudible) we don't need to build are, number one, data. Our data was in bad shape, the entire conference. The Republican National Committee was going to get that done (inaudible) said make this happen (inaudible) invested (inaudible) millions of dollars in our own database, I360, better messaging and better voter contact by groups like Americans for Prosperity.
The next phase going after 2010, you all said, well, the next big gap we need to fill is outreach to Hispanic and Latino voters, outreach to young voters, outreach to veterans, outreach to faith-based voters. And those were additional capabilities that came from this group. (Inaudible) Concerned Veterans for America, Generation Opportunity, the Institute for (inaudible) Economics, all right?
And then after 2012, Charles said, okay, (inaudible) building capabilities. We now have three other areas we need to, uh, to focus on. One is competitive intelligence (inaudible) better (inaudible) segmentation, really understanding the (inaudible) who we need to move for what action. And that has been enhanced with a lot of data, targeted messaging, and then finally better candidate recruitment, development, and support. Frankly that's been a fuller effort and a long time coming. But when we see folks like Joni Ernst and Tom Cotton here, (inaudible) we certainly want to avoid some of the (inaudible) of 2010, 2012.
So that's where we are today. You all are the investors, and (inaudible) the investors report. Uh, Marc, uh, is the president of Freedom Alliance. He is sort of organizing the effort for this. Uh, (inaudible) to the conference. Uh, many times Freedom Alliance (inaudible) a grant to the various organizations (inaudible) including, uh, certainly what I'm proudest of is Americans for Prosperity. Americans for Prosperity has been growing and growing from this seminar, over two million, uh, volunteer activists. Tim Phillips is the president of that. Uh, that's a key element to this as well. You all take it away and walk (inaudible).
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MARC SHORT: We're going to walk you through a few things today. Uh, we're going to walk you through (inaudible) and just because we want to make sure that the investments that you helped make last fall (inaudible) the fall and the winter and really defined (inaudible) we have now. We were the guys complaining and talking about Obamacare in the most critically important races in the country when nobody else (inaudible). And you helped (inaudible). And then what we have for (inaudible) is designed to get (inaudible) come November.
When we met before, we told (inaudible) 2014 we're going to hold the House and (inaudible) the Senate. At that time, keep in mind after 2012 (inaudible) was a concern that the Administration and the Obama campaign had been invested in minority communities in, in ways, in ways that were being (inaudible) in ways that we were then (inaudible). What would happen if Nancy Pelosi became Speaker of the House? What would happen if Pelosi (inaudible) Obama the last two (inaudible)?
[BACKGROUND CONVERSATIONS.] So the first part was to hold the House, and second was (inaudible) the Senate. Keep in mind when we met (inaudible). Democrats would have to have a massive mid-term (inaudible) to keep control of the Senate.
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TIM PHILLIPS: (Inaudible) lessons learned from 2012, uh, was to be passionate about telling stories explaining the impact of these big government policies like Obamacare on the lives of individual Americans. That's the only way to reach folks that (inaudible) talking about healthcare. (Inaudible) We told affiliates early on there was a statewide drive (inaudible) mother of two facing a life-threatening form of leukemia. She's on a fixed income. She has insurance. Bu let's let her tell the story.
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TIM PHILLIPS: So this ad was out statewide, every market across Michigan. But what makes our network unique is that we're not going to celebrate now. Lots of groups can do that. We have an infrastructure that you have helped fund and build for the last seven and a half years. So while this ad was up, (inaudible) coalition partners were doing town hall meetings, events, and going door to door in targeted neighborhoods with the single message about Obamacare and the impact it has on folks like (inaudible).
I know (inaudible) the liberal Democratic (inaudible) process (inaudible) there was not sympathetic to her. She actually attacked her, calling her a liar, uh, urging and demanding with a cease and desist letter to the station to pull her message, our message off the air. That precipitated a great deal of media coverage, not just across Michigan, but across the country that forced these liberal Democratic senators to, to be held accountable on Obamacare.
MARC SHORT: Let's talk through a couple other examples of where that could've been impactful. Kay Hagan is a first-term senator from North Carolina who was elected in 2008 with a large African-American turnout for President Obama. Uh, she's not well known (inaudible). When we began the effort to remind North Carolina voters about her record, about her support for Obamacare, her disapproval rating was relatively low. It was 34 percent (inaudible), but it was only 34 percent. After several months of ads that you helped to fund to remind citizens about her record in support of big spending and support of Obamacare, her disapproval rating climbed from 34 percent to where it stands today at 54 percent. Now, that's not a good place for her to be running for reelection as an incumbent.
Conversely, let's look at the impact in Louisiana. Mary Landrieu has held office for a couple of terms. Her family has a very well-known name in Louisiana. Um, she has a relatively strong approval rating, and unlike Kay Hagan (inaudible) her disapproval rating was actually (inaudible). There were a few people who'd say "unknown" (inaudible). While a lot of people have said that number is too high (inaudible).
With your help, we were able to focus on, again, her vote for Obamacare and double down (inaudible). She said publicly "if I could vote for it again, I would." And that (inaudible). So over the course of a couple of months, her approval rating went from 54 percent to 39 percent where it stands now. That's not a good place to be for a two-term incumbent running for reelection, spending multiple millions of dollars (inaudible) 39 percent because of (inaudible).
So we want you to know that this network has helped to shift the landscape. We've given this presentation a couple of times in a couple of small groups, and the feedback that I'm getting is, boy, you're a Debby Downer, by the time you're done with this because we're going to share with you some numbers of why we think it's a hard lift to get to a majority in the U.S. Senate.
But let me say that where we (inaudible) where we were 15 months ago talking about how we make (inaudible). We've made dramatic steps in the last 12 to 15 months in this national area with your help. We're going to walk you through very carefully how we're going to make a shift in the Senate races, too. Let's watch a quick video montage that talks about (inaudible).
"Americans for Prosperity has gone out very early with these very critical ads linking Democrats to Obamacare…
Democrats are increasingly anxious about the onslaught of television ads...
This is a well-done, emotionally effective ad...
That is almost certainly one of the most effective political ads of the cycle so far…
…Republicans get the Senate. They are very worried about a Republican Senate...
Chris Matthews: It's going to be very hard to hold the Senate. I think the Senate goes, I think (inaudible) from the, the ghost of Christmas future."
MARC SHORT: We have no idea what that means.
MARC SHORT: We kept it in because he looked stupid.
(Inaudible) what we said, we are all about taking the Senate (inaudible). We now believe that our efforts should be tied to (inaudible), not just to maintain, but to (inaudible). Here's a word of caution. Since 1982, 87 percent of Senate incumbents were re-elected. When you're a senator for six years, you're able to raise money for six full years. You build up a war chest.
You often (inaudible). And 2010 we know was a landslide year. We talked about 60-some, uh, House members who were defeated. It's different (inaudible).
In 2010, (inaudible) the House, 21 out of 23 senators, incumbent senators were re-elected. Twenty-one out of 23 in that same year. So to get a net in the U.S. Senate is not an easy path. It's going to be a very hard path (inaudible). The way we look at it is there's nine very competitive races, and of those, seven are held by incumbents. Nine (inaudible) seven are held by incumbents (inaudible). So there's (inaudible) the landscape.
Let's, um, assess the status right now of where our priorities lie legitimately in going to the House. There are 435 seats up, naturally, in the House. Of those, we believe there are 175 that are safe for Democrats. These are not places where we could make good use of our seminar resources to invest. We believe that of those 175, we are not investing there, so let's go ahead and take those off the map. Likewise, we believe that there are 210 seats that are safe for Republicans. Those are not good uses of our resources, so we as well are going to take those off the map.
So that leaves us with roughly 48 seats where we have been invested over the course of the last several months (inaudible) where we are really focused on that operation if we need it. Of those 48, we narrowed it down a little bit further. That's because of how (inaudible). These 16 in some of these states (inaudible) champion of liberty, we want to make sure is defended.
Four is the House seats that overlap in the Senate (inaudible) 2016 and 2020, and it's critical that our organization continues building infrastructure in those states. So having races there (inaudible) as well.
Now let's talk about the process of flipping the Senate. There are 36 seats up for election this cycle. Of those, again we walk the same path here. Seven we believe are safely for Democrats, so we can take those off the map. Twelve we believe are safely for Republicans.
Now, some of you are really quick (inaudible). Some of those red states have two senators running at the same time, so two seats are up. So that leaves us with seven -- with, um, 12 seats (inaudible), along with seven states Democratic. We'll take those off the map. And what we have left are 17 seats where we're spending the majority of our resources.
(Inaudible) focused on. In the Senate, of the 36, there are 17 seats needed, so let's break down the 17 in here. There are two that we feel -- we're confident are going to flip, South Dakota and West Virginia. Those are two places where you have senators retiring (inaudible).
So we have not invested (inaudible) resources there. The exception is West Virginia's 3rd. We think we can create (inaudible) new opportunities (inaudible). For the Senate side, we have not invested resources, and we hope that we won't have to. So let's shift to Montana. Tim, you want to (inaudible)?
TIM PHILLIPS: Montana has Congressman Steve Daines, a pretty good free market -- actually a very good free market businessman in the House in his first term. He's running for the United States Senate this year. Uh, he's a good candidate, good on the issues especially, and he's actually been a participant or a guest here at these seminars in the past to give you a feel for how similar our views are.
It's a good state. It's a red state, moving more so. But in the past, we've had Libertarians in the state, so we've worked hard in the north and northwest part of the state, kind of the Thompson Falls, Troy, Kalispell part of the state.
We've identified a few other (inaudible) here to build up an understanding of just how free market Congressman Daines has been, and how, frankly, good a senator he would be. Uh, at this point, we've spent about $700,000 on the airwaves there along with a pretty good, strong field operation across Montana as well. And we're now pretty confident that Montana is going to go the right way in the Senate.
MARC SHORT: So if we were to move Montana over with South Dakota, West Virginia, (inaudible) the most competitive (inaudible). Why don't you start with North Carolina?
TIM PHILLIPS: Absolutely. Kay Hagan, uh, Marc mentioned her just a minute ago. She's the freshman incumbent Democrat running for reelection. She got elected in 2008 with a good, strong Obama wind at her back. It was a very close race. Her polling average is pretty much steady in the low forties. If you're an incumbent and you're in the low forties, that's a flashing red light danger zone for her.
Uh, the Republican nominee was just chosen without a runoff, Speaker Thom Tillis. That's very good for him. While this race is a toss-up region, we think it offers the best opportunity. I can tell you this. This seminar effort began investing, you -- many of you -- began investing in North Carolina a decade ago. This was a charter state AFP chapter along with Kansas and Texas, and so we have a deep network there.
I was actually in Raleigh, North Carolina this time last Monday. And at 1:00 p.m. in the Raleigh area, which is not our strong area, we had two dozen activists and field staff out doing phone banks, and then following up with door to door. That's a lot of folks in a tough part of the state on a Monday, and we think this offers a good opportunity.
One thing you're going to notice on a couple of the slides, you'll see the new activists. Those are new AFP-recruited activists, Facebook fans, and then the events. We put those up there because they're just a healthy way to measure progress in the state. It shows the vitality and the strength or lack thereof. And so it's one way that Teresa Oelke, whom we heard from yesterday. And the rest of the AFP, AFP team measure, uh, the progress of these grassroots activists on the ground.
MARC SHORT: (Inaudible) these states walk through those we think are the most likely to flip to the least likely. So we're pretty confident about North Carolina. We know that number is 42, 43, and we think that North Carolina is super dynamic in 2014 (inaudible) in 2008.
The next (inaudible) Louisiana is a state with (inaudible) a long-time incumbent, a well-known name, a lot of (inaudible) pushed this off because they're friends with her for a long time. As I said, we gave last fall and winter (inaudible) and now it's one of those competitive states. This is a place where unfortunately many of the oil and gas industry has supported Mary Landrieu because she's chairman of the Energy Committee.
Nonetheless, we think that this is a (inaudible) state if we focus on Obamacare. Bill Cassidy is a doctor. His wife (inaudible) president at LSU (inaudible). She put his campaign together (inaudible) everybody runs on the ballot in November. The top two, if nobody gets above 50, run December 6th. We think there's a very strong possibility December 6th that (inaudible) on the ballot for the United States Senate. If that's the case, it probably will remain purple (inaudible). That's a good thing. But it's likely that neither of the candidates are above 50 in November.
TIM PHILLIPS: One thing that Congressman Cassidy is challenging (inaudible) is he's in the Baton Rouge part of the state, and New Orleans is the largest single population center. Uh, Landrieu has always run well in the north New Orleans suburbs, and so it's a big challenge for him. I know a lot of our effort is to make sure that folks in those suburbs who maybe like her are just reminded of her voting record on Obamacare, how on energy, while she talks a good talk, she's not doing anything. She can't even get a Keystone vote to get that pipeline built. She did nothing to stop -- to stop the new EPA regs that the President just announced last week.
And so that's kind of a key battleground in the state. I would (inaudible) maximizing energy up there. And I think that's really the time. Now, I'm a southerner. I should know this, but it is hot and humid in Louisiana.
TIM PHILLIPS: It's like walking on a (inaudible) and I made the cardinal error. And so when you guys are all (inaudible) Louisiana, to go door-to-door with us in the fall, where all of you will be, you all never say to a Louisiana person, "Whew, it's really hot, huh?" Because inevitably they say, oh, it's not even summer, making fun of you. It's terrible (inaudible).
I want you to meet one person. This is Charlene. Uh, as we were going out door-to-door in Baton Rouge, I noticed her off to one side. So I walked over to say hello to her. She's one of our grassroots activists. She's 82 years old -- 82. She looks great. And she wasn't going door-to-door. And I said, "What are you doing?" And she said, "Well, I'm using the phone system" -- I could see that she had a phone in her hand there and a little iPad (inaudible) – "and I'm making calls. And I'm going to make a thousand calls before November to let folks know about Senator Landrieu's vote on Obamacare because this fall really scares me."
So you see that yellow legal pad, just above it there? I looked down and there were little marks on there. And I said, "What is this, Charlene?" She goes, "I'm up to 128 calls, and I mark each one." And I looked closer. And on some of them there were smiley faces and on other ones there were frowns. And I said, "Charlene, I got to ask, what's the frowny?" She goes, "Well, when they really don't like the Obamacare vote, I put a smiley face right there."
TIM PHILLIPS: So those are the kinds of folks that change the (inaudible) working on the phone.
The next state is Arkansas. Um, Tom Cotton is here. You know there are times when -- I'm sorry.
The next state is, it's Arkansas. There are times when the candidate is running, and frankly, it's just someone that, you know that there's no better alternative, right? That's not the case in Arkansas. Tom Cotton is a champion. I'm going tell you one thing about him. Let me (inaudible). He has a 100 percent AFP voting record -- 100 percent. We give a tough, tough ranking. We really -- our board, we really make it tough. This guy is running for the Senate actually voting with 61 Republicans in the House to vote against the farm bill in Arkansas.
TIM PHILLIPS: (Inaudible) crony capitalism or crony government in that farm bill, also the food stamp explosion as well. He did that knowing that he was in a tough race.
Two things about Arkansas that make this race a real battleground. One is the average age of voters in the state is high, and so they respond well to 'Mediscare' and the social security attack, and they're doing that on Tom aggressively.
And then secondly, we mentioned Kay Hagan in North Carolina. You know, she's not well established. She's a one-term senator in a big state, doesn't have a strong profile. Senator Pryor does. His father was a senator and a governor of the state. You combine that with the fact that Arkansas doesn't tend to be as trending for blue now, and the average age of the voters is older there. They've been voting in some cases for a Pryor now for 20 or 50 years.
So this is not an easy race, but we've got a genuine economic freedom champion in Tom Cotton (inaudible) here. You heard from Teresa Oelke yesterday. She and her brother Ivan, five years ago were sitting in a room like this at a seminar. And they said, "You know what? We've got to step up and start a chapter in our home state." And they did. And Teresa actually left the family construction business and went in to work full time, and today she's the vice president running all the states for us. (Inaudible) like so many others. And so this is one of our best grassroots chapters across the country.
MARC SHORT: One other point I'll make to you on this slide is you'll see the polling average numbers up there. Um, Tom is here this weekend, and I know he shared with many of you the new poll (inaudible). The discrepancy here is in (inaudible) polling was bad. It was across the Republican landscape. Everybody's polling was off. (Inaudible) how to do polling better.
What we're doing now is just like Obama's team in how we take care of data operations. This is (inaudible) is poll registered voters to likely voters. (Inaudible). The registered voters say you can't (inaudible). The likely can't say, "Who cares if you're registered? It doesn't mean you're going to vote." You should ask them to actually like your (inaudible) more than turnout.
What we're trying to do now is to shift our model. Where we're going into modeling is how likely somebody is to turn out based on their past track record in mid-term elections. And so, what we have with public polls (inaudible) in Arkansas as Tom has. But what we've seen is a continued trend is in, in the parts of the state who still don't know Tom well, basically the northeast parts. As he gets more and more well known, that gap is going to be shrinking (inaudible).
MARC SHORT: [TYPING IN THE BACKGROUND.] The next up is Alaska. Alaska (inaudible). It's a state that is very Republican. It's a state that (inaudible), and we think this is going to be (inaudible). Of all the Democrats running right now, Mark Begich is (inaudible).
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TIM PHILLIPS: Well, Marc, we are just hiring Americans for Prosperity staff in Alaska. We have a long way to go. You know, peninsular states, whatever you do now or whatever (inaudible) the lower 48 (inaudible) Alaska. So this is an uphill state, even though it is still red.
And it points out that (inaudible) the success of the model that you helped build because we don't have anything. And so what should be more of a, a (inaudible) we don't have the infrastructure like we do in Arkansas, or North Carolina, or Louisiana.
Next up is Iowa. This is the one that six or eight months ago was not even on the list, no, no doubt about that. But the Obamacare issue in this seminar (inaudible) early investment to hold new senators and liberal Democrats accountable on Obamacare paid big dividends. Joni Ernst has been here this weekend.
As many of you may remember, she was here a year ago when she was polled in the single digits in the primary. And while (inaudible) primaries in general, Iowa is one where (inaudible) in our network (inaudible) just a couple of weeks ago is now the nominee and has put this race in play (inaudible). This is a little ad you may have heard about that kind of helped put her on the map.
(Video presentation of Ernst's "Squeal" campaign ad.)
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TIM PHILLIPS: I know this is probably a redundant statement, but Bruce Braley is about the most arrogant trial lawyer you can imagine, and he's the nominee. To get a sense of the kind of candidate he is (inaudible). He went to Texas recently to speak to a group of trial lawyers, and while there was a video camera openly rolling right in front of him -- it wasn't hidden -- he actually said the following, "If Republicans take the Senate, a farmer from Iowa will be the new Judiciary chairman." Now, the person he was talking about is the iconic Republican senator who represents Iowa right now, Charles Grassley. He actually said that. So we have an ad out right now across the state with his own words demeaning the senator who's in there right now who happens to be an Iowa farmer.
And this race is, is absolutely in play, even though when you look at the cash on hand, there's a massive discrepancy with Joni. She's got a long way to go. This is a tough state. Obama carried this state twice. I will say the Americans for Prosperity state director there, Mark Lucas, is a combat veteran of Afghanistan, so our AFP operations run with military precision when you're in Iowa (inaudible).
MARC SHORT: Moving onto Colorado. Cory Gardner is with us here this weekend. He has really solidified the Republican field. Other candidates got out; he got in. He has been a champion of freedom. Colorado was not on our list a year ago. But a lot has changed in Colorado (inaudible) to the left (inaudible) such as the tragedy in Colorado. (Inaudible) Second Amendment issue. So we think that Colorado is actually in play, and we're excited about Cory's candidacy.
TIM PHILLIPS: You know, one thing to note, Cory Gardner's district is the far eastern rural part of the state. He is not well known in the Denver market. And a lot of these races are about making sure that you're holding accountable the Democrats that voted for Obamacare, energy, et cetera.
This is one state, though, we think where Cory Gardner has got to get out and tell his message in Denver. Already the League of Conservation Voters, and the Sierra Club, the environmental extremists are pouring millions into the Denver market to make him out to be some kind of radical extremist. They're also doing that -- attempting to do that on social issues as well.
So we have a big task ahead of us. This seminar effort with Concerned Veterans of America, Generation Opportunity, and AFP has a good, strong ground game in the Denver area. But this is a big fight to make sure they don't define Gardner -- he's a good guy, a free market guy; his voting record is great in the House -- make sure they don't define him as some extremist, because he's not.
MARC SHORT: Michigan is a state that's basically an uphill climb honestly. Phil Cox will join us in a minute to talk about the governor's race (inaudible). So this is -- this is more of a great view from one of the far-left members of the House. A lot of the ad campaigns (inaudible) doing from the very beginning feature Obamacare victims who talk about the loss of insurance and that had a big impact with (inaudible). But ultimately this is going to be an uphill climb.
Last on this list is (inaudible) New Hampshire. New Hampshire is on the list principally because Jeanne Shaheen is a well-liked Democrat senator. She's somebody who was elected to the legislature. She's been elected governor. She's been elected to the United States Senate. Her approval rating is very high.
The reason she's on the list is because there have been few states that were more negatively impacted by Obamacare than New Hampshire. Of 26 hospitals in the state, 10 have been excluded from coverage under Obamacare, which means that patients who need to go to their local hospitals, are now having to drive 40 to 60 miles to get their care. We don't know -- there's no doubt New Hampshire is more vulnerable, but what's going to be important is how Obamacare (inaudible). When insurance rates are re-established in September, October, does that become the (inaudible) to win? (Inaudible) answer, then we've got a chance.
TIM PHILLIPS: This is the new AFP ad that's on the airwaves right now holding her accountable, and it's, it's –- you know, in most states it's about losing health insurance. But in New Hampshire, as Marc mentioned, it's about far more. It's about hospitals that are being excluded from Obamacare (inaudible). This ad hopefully tells that story.
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TIM PHILLIPS: Here's what's exciting about this network that you're building. Again, TV ads are good. They're important. They're easy to show. But they don't get the job done by themselves. There's no question about that. This seminar network, though, has invested in New Hampshire for eight years now. Eight years. We've had staff on the ground. We've had folks building relationships, and recruiting activists, and building credibility with local media across that state.
And so when an ad like this goes up, there's a network in place, an infrastructure that we go out and echo the message that's on the airwaves via town hall meetings, and local events, and door-to-door efforts, and phone efforts.
And even the literature in New Hampshire on Senator Shaheen, it echoes, and looks similar, and it certainly has the same message of this TV ad. So, we show these TV ads because they're the easiest thing to show perhaps, but it's so important to what makes this network unique across the country on our side is we have that infrastructure that's been painstakingly built for the long term. And everything we're doing this year builds toward the long-term plan, the long-term policy successes that yesterday our team talked so much about.
MARC SHORT: So just to summarize this section of the presentation, there are in the Senate 17 seats. We now have moved Montana into a more competitive state. That might be a little optimistic at this point. But if you put that aside, we have West Virginia, South Dakota, Montana, we're halfway there to six. We have six. But that assumes that there is no Republican loss this cycle, and that's a big accomplishment. So in Kentucky, Senator McConnell has been here with us this weekend. Since he's prevailed in his primary, it appears that the party is rallying back behind his candidacy, and we think that this is a race where he can win.
Georgia is one, that frankly, when I, when we met last time, I was more pessimistic. And I shared with you my thought that all five Republican candidates were poor candidates (inaudible). I think that it's changed a little bit. Obama's numbers have created (inaudible) an inferior candidate there. And I, I think that there's a runoff on July 22nd, and there probably will be an inferior candidate, but I think that (inaudible) so Republicans can win and that would (inaudible).
Mississippi is represented by Thad Cochran. Thad Cochran has been in the United States Senate for 36 years. Before that he was in the House for four years. He has represented Mississippi for 40 years. If after 40 years you can't convince the majority of your own party that (inaudible) primary, I think the prospects of you winning your runoff (inaudible) are pretty slim. (Inaudible) the nominee is.
And the challenge is, you know, for me is like Christine O'Donnell's story in 2010 or looking at the Todd Akin story in 2012, and the level of scrutiny that people face is extremely intense. And although Mississippi remains Republican, the challenge will be (inaudible) that level of scrutiny (inaudible) over into any other state (inaudible) people in very competitive races (inaudible). We think McDaniel will win next Tuesday, and we'll have to see what happens beyond that in the Republican space.
TIM PHILLIPS: There are three states further on the watch list. The seminar network is not spending money right now on these states, but they're Minnesota, Oregon, and Virginia. Minnesota, everyone's favorite comedian, Al Franken. Uh, he, against all expectations, actually has kept his head down and not made stupid comments, and has been in decent shape in a relatively blue state.
It's important to note that Obama got about just over 51 percent in Minnesota in 2012, so we do have an eye on that. Uh, McFadden is a businessman running on the Republican side who was actually a guest a year ago at the seminar. Uh, he is a good candidate.
Oregon. Uh, Dr. Monica Wehby is running a strong campaign so far. It's a tough blue state, although it's absolutely there keeping an eye on.
And then the third state is Virginia, uh, where Sen. Mark Warner, a liberal Democrat, is running for re-election (inaudible). Ed Gillespie got in. He's running a very strong campaign. Uh, and it's important to note that in Minnesota and Virginia, uh this seminar network has built an infrastructure over the last several years. In fact, Virginia is a key state for us.
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(END OF TIM PHILLIPS REMARKS.)