Earlier today we noted that Presidential upstart Michele Bachmann had hard-nosed Colorado GOP operative Guy Short as a member of her inner circle. We wanted to take a deeper look at what his role in the campaign means for Bachmann's chances in Colorado and the primary writ large.
For the last 18 months or so, Short has been a trusted member of "Team Bachmann," where he has been an advisor in Bachmann's Congressional office, as well as a fundraising consultant through his company, C&M Strategies. The Roll Call article we linked to earlier today said that various Republican operatives who have followed Bachmann's career mentioned Short as Bachmann's most trusted political advisor.
Short has a long and storied history in Colorado's politics, most recently with his role as a campaign manager and Chief of Staff to former Colorado Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave. Before that he was known for his role as a lobbyist for right-to-work legislation and the aggressive tactics he employed in pursuing that goal. But Short's most notable trait has been his ability to raise gobs of cash for his candidates from the grassroots.
Musgrave raised eye-popping sums in part because Short leveraged Musgrave's profile on social issues to rope in a national base of support. Running Bachman's Political Action Committee (PAC), MichelePAC, Short has brought the same fundraising success and ability to maximize a national donor base, with Bachmann potentially the only candidate that can give Romney a run for his money on the donated dollars front. As the top fundraiser of any US House candidate in 2010, Bachmann is poised to become one of the top fundraisers of the primary field.
Beyond the fundraising front, Short's role in Bachmann's inner circle also means that she won't be likely to shy away from hard hitting tactics or hesitate to contrast with Romney and others on social issues, which we saw yesterday with her statement on Romney's refusal to sign the Susan B. Anthony List's anti-abortion pledge. That is not good news for Rick Santorum, as it will likely mean his niche in the field as the social conservative will quickly be eclipsed by Bachmann. Coupled with Bachmann's hiring of long-time operative Ed Rollins, it is a significant sign that Bachmann is in it to win it, no matter what it takes to win.
Thirdly, we think Short's role means that Bachmann's campaign won't be a TV only campaign, but instead will be very much a ground-up, grassroots operation, focused on tapping the energy of the base to drive the campaign. Her announcement video hinted at this, with it being more of an attempt to fire up her existing supporters, rather than trying to appeal to everyone.
Short's experience in grassroots campaigns and Bachmann's undeniable appeal to grassroot activists will make her a serious player in the kick-off state of Iowa. Not only does Bachmann's home state of Minnesota share a media market with Iowa, but Bachmann was born in Waterloo, Iowa, giving her a key local connection to the state. As Iowa caucus goers tend to lean socially conservative and Bachmann has the Iowa social conservative superstar, Congressman Steve King, as a close ally, what materializes is a Bachmann that is the odds on favorite to win the Hawkeye State — chances that a guy named Short only improves.
This grassroots energy will be key to her campaign, especially in caucus states like Colorado and Iowa, as caucuses are all about organizing and grassroots fervor. While Romney may succeed in earning the support of a plurality of all registered Republicans, Bachmann is poised to do much better among those who turn out to caucus, which is generally an all together different sample than registered voters.
With an advisor like Guy Short, Michele Bachmann is primed to do well in Colorado's Presidential nominating contest and will be a force to reckon with in every state. Campaigns are often portrayed in the media as being about the candidate and their positions, while under-reporting the essential personnel that can have the biggest impact on strategy and messaging — the operatives. We at the Peak will continue to report and inform our readers about the names not on the ballot, and how those folks will impact their candidates' campaigns in Colorado.
(Photo from Rocky Mountain News)