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Nancy Smith

Patrick Murphy, Please Get the Tin Cup Out of My Face

March 10, 2013 - 7:00pm

Another week, another couple of panhandling emails from Patrick Murphy. This is getting ridiculous.

Since the 2012 election ended, I've had 27 emails from Murphy, his camp or the national Democratic Party on his behalf. Every one of them is out to stiff me for a donation because of some usually-obscure effrontery to the rights of citizens that needs my money and Murphy to cure.

Hey, Patrick -- you won, it's over, stop cyberstalking me.

To be honest, I don't think the District 18 Democratic congressman has a clue what goes out in his name and doesn't realize he's harrassing me and who knows how many others.

I think the party knows he's vulnerable in 2014, knows he beat Allen West by an eyelash in a new district with a generally conservative voter make-up.

The Democrats' online fundraising tactics worked to get him that victory against West last year, so why would the party make changes now?

For you, it might not be Murphy, it might be the Democratic member of Congress in or closer to your district who's got your number. Other Florida districts have been identified as cash cows.

In the 2010 cycle, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $14.6 million online; in 2012 it took in $49.3 million -- a total representing one-third of its revenue. In the previous two cycles, online donations accounted for 5 percent to 9 percent of the DCCCs total haul, according to DCCC fundraising figures provided exclusively to CQ Roll Call andpublished Feb. 18.

Online is definitely the way to go. It's just a question of how much do you push a good thing before it turns on you like a heat-seeking missile?

What if I were a full-scale, Patrick Murphy believer and clicked that "Donate" button on every email? Let's say I gave the last-cycle DCCC an average online gift of $31 every time. At 27 clicks, that would mean I donated $837 in five months. By the time the 2014 election rolled around I would be tithing like some fairyland princess with a charm, hoping to ward off a magical hex.

And let's be honest. If I were giving regularly, you know I'd get even more attention from the gang at party HQ. Think of the emails popping up in my inbox then. Imagine the opportunities to bump up my contribution.

But what if I can't afford, or plain don't want to fight for truth and justice the Patrick Murphy way over and over again? What happens if I just get sick and tired of seeing my inbox spammed up with one candidate's begging email? Well, I can turn the spigot off by clicking on the fine print. At the bottom of each email release, it says this:

"This email was sent to: (your email address). If that is not your preferred email address, you can update your information here. We believe that emails are a vital way for the campaign to stay in direct contact with supporters. Click here if you'd like to unsubscribe from these messages. This campaign is about you and your ideas and comments are encouraged. Thanks for your support of our campaign. Contributions or gifts to Murphy for Congress are not tax deductible."

Opting out altogether is well and good, but as a Democrat friend of mine put it, "If I delete him permanently, I feel like I'm being disloyal."

In my personal case, no matter how harrassed I feel, I figure it comes with the territory of my job to read every political email I get.

Here's what the last Murphy email had to say:

"When you helped defeat Allen West and send Patrick Murphy to Congress, you knew that it wouldn't just be more of the same. Patrick is there fighting for the very things that we all care about. But, he needs your urgent help today.

"Paul Ryan released his budget today and unfortunately it is more of the same old recycled and extreme plans that the American people rejected. It destroys Medicare by turning it into a voucher program. We need to speak up and thats where you come in.

"The next 24 hours are critical thats why Patrick is collecting signatures for an online petition to House leadership to reject the Ryan budget for its extremist ideas and instead return with common-sense solutions.

"We deserve better and if you agree -- then sign Patrick's petition to demand more from Congress than extremist and recycled ideas that just don't work. Add your name now. Thank you for standing up for whats right."

(Then comes the "Donate" button.)

Every one of Murphy's emails finds a way to tell me the sky is falling. Every one has an urgent call to action and a warning that the next 24 hours are critical.

They are less than honest.

It will be interesting after Murphy's first year in office to tote up how he's spent donors' money to prevent the societal Armageddon he predicts email after email.

House Republicans, who raised approximately one-third of the DCCC's online total in 2012, have taken note of the DCCCs success. National Republican Congressional Committee Digital Director Gerrit Lansing said the committee will triple its digital department staff for the 2014 cycle. He told Roll Call, We will not be behind online ever again.

OK. But let's hope the NRCC can get the job done with a little more class than the Democrats have done, without stalking loyal party members or insulting their intelligence.


Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859.

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