Politicians have always grasped with a difficult period early in a potential campaign: How do you make it known that you are a serious candidate for higher office without really committing to running for said office in case you find out nobody cares? We saw this play out over the last two days with State Sen. Linda Newell's news that she was indeed considering a run for Congress in CD-6.
With that in mind, we thought it would be helpful to analyze and give points for Pre-Announcement Announcements. We'll call it "The Colorado Pols Guide to Pre-Announcement Announcements." Yes, it is a long title, but you've gotta appreciate the alliteration, no? We anticipate that this will be an ever-changing scale that gets more refined and improved over time, but we have to start somewhere. That somewhere is here (or, rather, there, as in after the jump).
The Colorado Pols Guide to Pre-Announcements Announcements is based on a scale of 1-100, with 10 categories for scoring opportunities. They are:
1. Originality; 2. Plausibility; 3. Strategy and Execution; 4. Use of Multiple Mediums; 5. Timing
6. Issue Connection; 7. Personal Connection; 8. Needle Movement; 9. Fundraising Potential; 10. Ripple Effect
Now, with the categories in mind, here is how we grade Sen. Newell's "Pre-Announcement Announcement":
1. Originality: 8
Regardless of whether or not you believe that Newell's daughter and her Facebook updates were scripted (and it's tough to tell), we give them points for a fairly unique way of floating her name. It adds a nice family connection.
2. Plausibility: 2
Here's what Newell said in a statement to Eli Stokols at Fox 31: “In the last couple of months, citizens and political leaders across the state have come to me with the same inquiry. People in our district want a woman in Congress who has a strong record of bipartisanship and moderate values.” Yeah…um…no. She starts strong with a pretty standard "people are encouraging me to run" message, but gets in trouble when she mentions "bipartisanship" and statewide encouragement. We certainly agree that most voters prefer moderate candidates, but nobody really cares about "bipartisanship" — particularly partisan voters that Newell would need to court in a Primary. And the biggest nonsense line of the bunch is her claim that people "across the state" are asking her to run. It doesn't make a lick of difference if she has "statewide" support for a CD-6 bid, even if it were true (very few state legislators have decent name ID in their own district, let alone somewhere else in Colorado).
3. Strategy and Execution: 1
If you're going to play the "people are asking me to run" card, it works better when you are more specific about why. Newell and her daughter talked about their religious beliefs and moderate, bipartisan stuff, which would be fine if her biggest hurdle wasn't a Democratic Primary. For someone with relatively low name ID in general — and particularly in comparison to someone like Andrew Romanoff — it makes no sense to position yourself as the most moderate option.
4. Use of Multiple Mediums: 7
The pre-announcement started with Facebook and ended up getting media attention from multiple sources. Newell doesn't have the gravitas to try a press conference, so she stuck with what she could control.
5. Timing: 7
A slow news cycle is certainly the ideal situation when you don't have big name ID already.
6. Issue Connection: 2
It's usually helpful to connect your pre-announcement with a specific issue, and Newell failed on this measure. There is plenty of red meat to toss the base from Republican incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman, and this is always an ideal time to start branding yourself as the "[Insert Issue] Candidate."
7. Personal Connection: 5
The Facebook posts from her daughter helps create a level of authenticity, but Newell misses on being more specific about issues that are driving her interest in CD-6.
8. Needle Movement: 4
The only thing that made Newell's announcement interesting is the fact that she expands a potential Democratic primary field into three challengers. Newell doesn't have the name ID to make her aspirations relevant just because she voices them; in fact, her news really just generates new questions for Romanoff and Karen Middleton.
9. Fundraising Potential: 2
She didn't have a real message or an issue that might attract support, and what little she did say certainly doesn't excite a Democratic base. Where's the boost?
10. Ripple Effect: 2
As we wrote earlier, what makes Newell's announcement interesting isn't about her — it's about how the news affects Romanoff and Middleton. Newell's announcement won't scare off anyone else considering a run in CD-6, nor will it propel her forward into "candidate to watch" territory.
TOTAL SCORE: 40
Newell doesn't earn a high score if she is really thinking about being a serious candidate. If she was only trying to raise her name ID, however, then this wasn't bad.