In a preview of the upcoming fireworks across the country on July 4th, a top Republican strategist who played a key role on the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush and John McCain, came out on Saturday in support of Jessica Morse’s campaign for Congress.
In a blistering attack on Congressman Tom McClintock on twitter, GOP strategist Steve Schmidt called McClintock “a career politician who has fed at the public trough all his adult life; and all the while attacking government.”
Schmidt went on to say, “He is one of the architects of destroying the California GOP and turning it into a third party.”
In his very next blast on twitter, Schmidt called McClintock “a Southern California carpetbagger who has spent his whole life as a mostly failing statewide candidate.”
Schmidt’s second volley was sent out in response to Morse’s fiery tweet from the day before when she said, "McClintock doesn't live in our community. He doesn't know us. He doesn't speak for us. He belittles us. I'm from this community and I'll represent our District 4 neighbors in Congress. Let's send McClintock packing back to his home in Southern California.”
What was most surprising about Schmidt’s tweets on Saturday, was not when he said he's a former, longtime resident of Lake Tahoe; it was when he called on his followers to donate to Morse’s campaign.
Morse responded to Schmidt on Sunday saying, “When a Senior Advisor for Senator John McCain is calling for the ousting of McClintock, you know Republicans, Democrats and Independents agree—McClintock is a career politician who has done nothing for District 4. Voters across the political spectrum are behind Team Morse!”
The Morse campaign to oust McClintock in the foothill Congressional district is going to be an uphill battle. Republicans have a 15 point advantage over Democrats in registered voters. In addition, President Donald Trump tallied a 14 point advantage in the district over Hillary Clinton in 2016.
In this month’s primary election, two Republican candidates received 58.6% of the votes, and four Democratic candidates received 41.4%. McClintock received 51.8% and Morse received 20.5%. To have a chance of defeating McClintock in November, it’s “all hands on deck” for Democrats.
Morse’s campaign does have the resources it needs to be successful. Leading up to the primary, Morse volunteers reached out to over 45,000 district voters in just two months. In terms of campaign cash, Morse’s campaign has raised over $1 million -- outraising McClintock in three successive quarters -- and she finished the last quarter with more campaign cash on hand than McClintock. She also has a small army of student interns who will be a crucial link to young voters.
Recently Morse was included in a group of 27 Democrats competing for House seats who will receive the active support of President Obama's campaign offshoot called Organizing for Action. In February, the Cook Political Report changed the district's rating from "Solid R to Likely R."
Morse must pass two important tests if she is going to be successful. The first test will be if she can acquire the full support of her primary rivals within the Democratic Party after a bruising battle. Morse and her top Democratic rival Regina Bateson were recently photographed together at a post-primary event presented by the Morse campaign and designed to bring Democrats together.
The second test will be if she can attract a significant number of moderate Republicans and a majority of Independents to swing her way. To translate that into numbers, in less than five months, Morse needs to flip at least 17,000 primary voters.
Also on the positive side for Morse is the stunning attack on McClintock by a top Republican strategist, and his support for the Morse campaign, which may help bring her uphill climb to topple McClintock within reach.