When Barb Haley announced her run for MN House District 21A, housing wasn't one of the issues she brought up for the Red Wing-area open seat.
The videos never explicitly say "Vote for" Barb, Dave or Jim (or Roz, Randy and Chad), so these online ads aren't considered independent expenditures spent to get Dave, Jim, Roz and Chad re-elected or sweep Barb and Randy into office.
"Issue advocacy": "Join Dave Baker" so doesn't imply you should vote for him!
According to a post on the Housing First Network website, Housing First Network Launches 'Think Local' Campaign:
BATC’s Housing First Network recently launched the next phase of its issue advocacy campaign, Think Local. Following up on our issue advocacy campaign to thank housing champion leaders, Think Local promotes local prioritization of homes, which we know create and tie communities together. Much of the news and public conversation looks at national and international issues. While these are very important, the HF Network is asking the public to think about the benefits a strong housing market provides for our local communities.
The local leaders featured in the Think Local campaign are local elected officials and candidates for elected office that have demonstrated support for strong communities and a strong housing market. Election years are times for public discussion and consideration of priorities. As an issue advocacy campaign, Think Local encourages everyone to consider the local impacts of housing, and to support keeping homes affordable for Minnesota families.
How local is the copy in these digital ads? So far, we've found two boilerplates, one that's 30 seconds, and the second that's 15 seconds or so:
Representative [Name] is a leader who thinks local. In the [Town Name] area, our community is made up of families, schools, and businesses all tied together by our homes and neighborhoods. Like the many growing families in our neighborhoods, [Name] raised [his/her] family in our community. [He/She] knows that the best way to build the american [sic] dream is by creating better communities to live in. Join [Name] in thinking local, learn more at HousingFirstNetwork.org.
Join [Name]. Live. Build. Learn. Work. Play. Think Local. Learn more at HousingFirstNetwork.org
You just can't think any more local than that. They're not place-baiting, we can say that for them.
Nonpartisan spending like you've never seen it before!
Update August 19: the Builders Association of the Twin Cities has announced its endorsements in a blog post, BATC’s Housing First PAC Endorses Legislative Candidates on August 19, three days after this post was first published on August 16. Three of the endorsees are suburban DFLers: 7th term Brooklyn Park Mike Nelson, first-term Edina senator Melisa Franzen, and Lakeville DFL senate candidate Matt Little, running in the open seat created by the retirement of state senator Dave Thompson. We'll look to see if any Local Think shows up online for the DFLers. A search of Youtube didn't yield any BATC/Housing First videos for these candidates. [end update]
Since it's an "issue advocacy campaign," we'll likely never know how much the Building Association of the Twin Cities will spend on these things. When Housing First does get down to real live independent expenditures, we do have its 2014 year-end report to the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board to consult.
In 2014, the Roseville-based political fund spent $547,611.87 in independent expenditures, all for Republican House candidates Jeff Backer, 12A (win); Heidi Gunderson, 42B (loss); Randy Jessup, 42A (loss); Jim Knoblach, 14B (win); Roz Peterson, 56B (win); Jason Rarick, 11B (win); Ryan Rutzick, 44B (loss); Kirk Stensrud, 48A (loss); Stacey Stout, 43A (loss); Tama Theis, 14A; Andrea Todd-Harlin, 51B; and Jennifer Wilson, 51B.
The only negative independent expenditures paid for attacks on Governor Mark Dayton's re-election bid. That worked out well.
While the political fund touts itself as "nonpartisan," we detect a pattern here.
The BATC provided $364,524.99 of the $453,367.29 of cash and in-kind services that the fund took in for the year. It started 2014 with $275,947.97 in the bank.
Bragging on a 2014 Republican majority
In 2014 blog post, the Builders Association of the Twin Cities crowed about the BATC Housing First Success – Pro Housing Majority!:
Though not a partisan entity, Housing First prioritized flipping the House to a pro-housing majority as its top objective for the 2014 election cycle, a goal proudly achieved. Housing First vetted candidates and spent countless hours over the past six months managing a campaign that would propel pro-housing and pro-business candidates into office. We now plan to work carefully with these candidates and friends who were elected to build a pro-housing caucus at the Capitol.
Here’s a breakdown of the winning 11 seats:
House District 2A: Dave Hancock (52.36 percent) defeated DFL Rep. Roger Erickson (47.49 percent)
House District 10A: Joshua Heintzeman (53.37 percent) defeated DFL Rep. John Ward (46.54 percent)
House District 10B: Dale Lueck (51.97 percent) defeated DFL Rep. Joe Radinovich (47.89 percent)
House District 11B: Jason Rarick* (53.68 percent) defeated DFL Rep. Tim Faust (46.15 percent)
House District 12A: Jeff Backer* (51.87 percent) defeated DFL Rep. Jay McNamar (47.94 percent)
House District 14B: Jim Knoblach* (50.15 percent) defeated DFL Rep. Zachary Dorholt (49.54 percent)
House District 17A: Tim Miller (55.37 percent) defeated DFL Rep. Andrew Falk (44.46 percent)
House District 17B: DFL Rep. Mary Sawatzky (49.27 percent) v. Dave Baker (50.66 percent)
House District 24B: Brian Daniels (50.87 percent) defeated DFL Rep. Patti Fritz (49 percent)
House District 27A: Peggy Bennett (53.04 percent) defeated DFL Rep. Shannon Savick (39.93 percent)
House District 56B: DFL Rep. Will Morgan (45.83 percent) v. Roz Peterson* (53.99 percent)
What's fascinating here is the contrast between the five flipped districts where Housing First spent money in 2014 and the seven districts where Housing First Republican candidates failed in a GOP year.
In the 2014 CFB report, there's also the thrilling local spend on video and ad place at Larry John Wright Advertising in Mesa, AZ, though it warmed our cold prairie hearts to see Weber Johnson getting its fair share of the fund's bucks. It's good to keep some of these dollars in the state.
If you've seen one Housing First Video, you've seen them all
Here are two Think Local videos for your enjoyment. The b-roll images change, along with the names of the Republicans and the towns, but one has to admire the metro builders' ability to stay on message:
We can only hope that the pleasant looking couple figures out which Minnesota House District they can vote in November's general election. They can "join" Dave or Barb, but not both.
Photos: screengrabs from Barb and Dave's videos.
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