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Campaign analysts say Frisch needs to focus more on Rep. Boebert as a threat to American democracy

September 28, 2022, 9:45 am
Adam Frisch of Aspen.

With six weeks to go until the Nov. 8 election, some political analysts are saying congressional candidate Adam Frisch, the businessman from Aspen, needs to step up his game to unseat U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO).

They say Frisch, who narrowly beat Puebloan Sol Sandoval in the Democratic primary in June, should talk less about statistics and politics, take a leaf out of innovative campaigns, and call out Boebert’s extremism as the danger to democracy that it is.

He needs to better harness social media, and study how Democratic candidates in conservative districts scored victories, they say. 

And he needs to hit back at Boebert when she spins a yarn about her legislative record, something Frisch has started doing but needs to do with more panache, they say.

“There’s still hope,” said Steve Mandell, a founding member of Restore the Balance, a western Colorado group that seeks to educate the public about the dangers political extremism poses to democracy and help them choose the right person to represent them. 

The group launched earlier this year in Grand Junction, which thanks to Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters and former Boebert campaign manager Sherronna Bishop, became ground zero for Colorado’s election fraud conspiracy movement. Its founding members included two Republicans, two Democrats and two unaffiliated voters, which Mandell believes are the key to winning in the congressional district. 

But with not a lot of time left before Nov. 8, Frisch’s campaign has to start doing more, he said.

Here are some tactics Mandell and other analysts who spoke to the Colorado Times Recorder think Frisch could try.

Amp up social media messaging.

Frisch’s social media messaging indicates that he is “a typical politician,” said Jennifer Stromer-Galley, senior associate dean at Syracuse University’s school of information studies, and author of “Presidential Campaigning in the Internet Age.”

But he’s up against someone who isn’t.

Lauren Boebert

He could try taking a leaf out of the book of Pennsylvania Lieut. Gov. John Fetterman, who’s running against Trump-anointed TV doctor Mehmet Oz for the U.S. Senate, Stromer-Galley said.

Fetterman’s response to Oz’s video about shopping for crudités (known to most Americans as raw vegetables), which was meant to illustrate how inflation was hammering Americans, allowed the Democrat to raise half a million dollars in 24 hours, media reports said.

“Fetterman is a non-traditional candidate, and you see that reflected in social media,” Stromer-Galley said.

“Boebert is kind of like Fetterman – very novel and visible, and her campaign reflects her message and persona,” she said. “Looking at her Twitter feed, there’s a lot of Fox News interviews, photos of her with guns, photos of her in a trucker hat.”

On Frisch’s social media, on the other hand, “There’s nothing particularly earth-shattering or novel,” she said.

On Friday, Frisch’s Twitter feed had one endorsement, posts about Boebert being out of the district yet again, and a barb aimed at Boebert after she dissed U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy for eating ice cream cones without the ice cream. Frisch’s Facebook page carried the same endorsement and nothing else.

Boebert, meanwhile, had at least four Facebook posts, mostly about veterans and how she’s allegedly helping them. Her team (she doesn’t post herself) seems to schedule tweets for every couple of hours.

Call out the lies.

In a string of 17 tweets, Frisch on Saturday refuted Boebert’s claims about supporting veterans and service members by voting yes on laws that benefit them.

He should be “challenging every lie,” said Mandell.

“But maybe it’s a reflection that he doesn’t have a large social media team, that he doesn’t,” he said.

He or his campaign staff need to call Boebert out in language that grabs attention, progressive television host Cenk Uygur said on The Young Turks after the first, and probably only, debate between the two, held in Grand Junction in early September.

When Boebert called the massive infrastructure bill part of “Nancy Pelosi’s con game” – a recurring theme in her debate arguments – Frisch should have said, “’Look, that’s not true and you know what that makes her? A God damn liar,’” Uygur said.

“You know what that is? It’s a soundbite that will attract media attention,” Uygur said, just as Boebert’s attacks on Pelosi are soundbites that her supporters can easily digest.

Get creative.

Frisch needs to do more videos, but has to do them right and post them on the right platforms, Stromer-Galley said.

Younger voters devour videos, and they mainly watch on short-form hosting service, TikTok. Older voters are more likely to go to the polls, but aren’t as interested in video, Stromer-Galley said. They also are more likely to meet on Facebook – which now has a short-form video feature called Reel. 

“You don’t need high production values with today’s smartphones,” Stromer-Galley said. “But video still requires savviness and tech capabilities, which a lot of candidates don’t have because they’re older.”

“They have to hire staff and that’s expensive, unless you get really good volunteers who you trust them not to create gaffes,” she said.

“For Frisch, maybe he can get comfortable and let volunteers take over a little bit, creating reality TV-style clips showing him knocking on doors,” she said.

Communications professionals offered to work for free for Restore the Balance when Mandell was setting it up a year ago, because they believed in the mission.

“I think those people exist for Adam, but I don’t think he’s making use of it,” he said.

Court independents. Talk to rural Republicans.

Frisch often trots out the statistic that unaffiliated voters make up 43% of the electorate in Congressional District 3, which spans large expanses of southern and western Colorado.

Some of those independent voters need to be wooed, said Mandell.

“True moderates,” Mandell said, “will cross party lines more than any other group.”

At the same time, Frisch might think about going door to door and talking to Republicans, the way progressive Democrat Chloe Maxmin did in conservative, rural Maine, Mandell said.

Maxmin spoke with 20,000 Trump voters in the district she grew up in over two election cycles. She won two elections –- a seat in the Maine House in 2018 and two years later in the Senate. In the latter race, she beat the two-term Republican incumbent.

“We discovered all of this common ground with folks we usually write off,” she said on Real Time with Bill Maher.

Ease up on the policy and statistics talk.

Some analysts say Frisch was underwhelming in the only candidate forum before the primaries, as he rattled off statistics; and was too much of a policy wonk in the debate.

If he must cite statistics, he shouldn’t forget that Boebert is the incumbent, which works in her favor, said Mandell.

“When Adam runs down ‘Here’s how I can win,’ he refers to the numbers as if the incumbency means nothing,” Mandell said.

He also needs to “boil down policy into bite-size chunks that people understand, or they’ll glaze over,” Mandell said.

Uygur said Frisch spent too much time on minutiae during the debate with Boebert, and not enough time countering her fabulations.

“This guy is playing patty cakes,” he said.

Not least, stress the serious threats to American democracy.

Boebert repeatedly says that Pelosi is running a con and that a vote for Republicans, no matter how radical, could take the House back from the Democrats.

“That’s what western Colorado Republicans always say that when they haven’t done any legislating or broken through to solve any problems,” Mandell said.

But Pelosi isn’t the problem, he said.

“She isn’t nearly as important as our democracy,” and Frisch has to make that one of his main talking points, Mandell said.

“There are people giving Adam advice and they’re saying, ‘You gotta talk about water, about education, about mental health.’ You do have to talk about that – but you can’t do that and ignore the biggest problem that’s coming down the track: our democracy.

“The train is moving down the tracks to take away people’s democratic rights and the ability to vote… and unfortunately that train is moving much faster than people think,” he said.

Republicans in red states have plans to “disrupt the election in Democratic precincts by trying to challenge every voter,” Mandell said.

In some red states, “They’re passing legislation that allows the secretary of state to not certify the election if they believe there’s fraud, which can mean if they don’t win, they’re going to say there’s fraud,” he said.

“Adam has to learn to do more, better,” Mandell said. “You can’t do one or the other – you have to do both. We cannot afford to have extremism mow down democracy.”

Editor’s note: This story first appeared on the Colorado Times Recorder website.

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Karin Zeitvogel

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