Inauguration Day: Hold On Tight

On General Election Day America buckled into a roller coaster some described as sad, scary, and a path to our very demise, as others described it as exciting, and just what we need…yet no one had seen it yet. 

We had no idea if there were loops, sharp turns, massive drops, or record-breaking speeds.

As we clicked towards the top of the first drop marked by Inauguration Day there were more unknowns than knowns, but a few things are certain: some of our fellow passengers will raise their hands in the air and welcome every twist and turn, some will cry out in fear, and some will be sickened.

What is also certain is that this roller coaster will end and regardless of the ride it takes us on or how we react during the ride, we will all survive. Then Americans will have to decide whether to get back in line and do it again or head for another ride.

Based on some of the President’s first actions (deleting sections from the White House website on LGBT, Civil Rights, and climate change…killing a plan to cut mortgage fees…adding the First Lady’s jewelry line to her section of a taxpayer-funded website) Americans of all persuasions have good cause to expect that the President will do exactly what he said he would during his improbable rise to power.

My best advice: Hold on tight.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Word Cloud: Trump’s Immigration Speech

Please credit “”

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Democratic Leader Pelosi Warns Caucus: Don’t Let Your Kids Check Your Messages

Following the Russian hack of DCCC computer files, US House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi sent a lengthy email to the Democratic Caucus offering both an update and an admonish mentioned.

Leader Pelosi detailed her own personal experience thus far reporting to her colleagues that she received “scores” of mostly “obscene” and “sick” emails, text messages, and voicemails.

She then urged Caucus members not to let their kids check their messages or answer their phones.

The DCCC was first attacked and victimized by foreign cyber-terrorists using a cyber attack  and now must expect to be attacked and victimized by partisan-terrorists using obscenities and harassment.

Domestic partisans carrying out the dirty work of international terrorists…this is truly a cycle for the history books, and the chapter will be a shameful one.

August 13, 2016



Dear Democratic Colleague,


As you are aware, the DCCC and other Democratic Party entities have been the target of cybersecurity intrusions – an electronic Watergate break-in.


As of last night, a mix of personal and official information of Democratic Members and hundreds of congressional staff, purportedly from a hack of the DCCC, was posted online.


This incident has been widely reported as part of a Russian cyber-attack.  As reported, the DCCC has hired a respected cybersecurity technology firm to conduct a full investigation of the breach.  With last night’s public posting, the following actions have been taken:


1.      The Chief Information Security Officer of the House, in coordination with the Sergeant-at-Arms and Capitol Police, has sent communications to those whose email addresses have been made public, with guidance on how to address the situation.  The House Chief Administrative Officer has also sent a campus-wide email stating that the House IT system has not been compromised, urging Members and staff to be vigilant opening emails and visiting websites, and reiterating the security steps suggested by the CIO.


2.      Kelly Ward, the Executive Director of the DCCC, has sent an email to Members and chiefs of staff who were listed online, which provides additional guidance beyond the CIO’s email.


3.      Chairman Luján has set up a Members’ call at 6:00pm Eastern today with a senior representative from the Sergeant-At-Arms office, and cybersecurity experts who have been investigating and responding to the breach to provide an update and some security guidance to Members.


We understand that there is an ongoing threat assessment by Capitol Police and the Sergeant-at-Arms.


On a personal note, I was in the air flying from Florida to California when the news broke. Upon landing, I have received scores of mostly obscene and sick calls, voicemails and text messages.


Please be careful not to allow your children or family members to answer your phone or read incoming text messages.  This morning, I am changing my phone number and I advise you to do so as well.  Until that process is complete, you may reach me by leaving a message through my office line at(202) 225-0100.  We will regularly be checking for voicemails and I will be returning calls.


This is a sad course of events, not only for us, but more importantly for our country. I hope you can join us on the 6:00pm call with Chairman Luján. Please note this call is in addition to the already scheduled Caucus call by Chairman Becerra for Tuesday at 1:00pm Eastern.


The memos from the House CIO, CAO and the DCCC contain important guidance, and they are attached to this communication below.  

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

See It Here: House CAO Sends Email Regarding DCCC Hack

In response to the latest Russian hack of Democratic Party infrastructure which hit the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the Chief Administrative Officer of the United States House of Representatives dispatched an email (pasted below) to members and staff this morning, nearly 24 hours after their personal data was released on the internet, including personal cell phone numbers, personal email addresses, and contact information for key staff like Chiefs of Staff, Legislative Directors, Finance Directors, and Campaign Managers:

Date: August 13, 2016 at 9:42:20 AM PDT
Subject: Message from the House Chief Administrative Officer: Reference Potential of Personal Account Information Disclosure.

Good AfternoonAccording to recent press reports, a hacker uploaded an Excel file to the Internet that includes a mix of House and/or personal email and cell phone numbers of nearly every Democratic Member of the House of Representatives, as well as several Republicans. In announcing the leak of the document, it was reported that the spreadsheet was stolen during a hack of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.There has been no compromise to any House IT system.The CAO, in consultation with the Committee on House Administration, has been in touch with the offices who were listed in the document. Additionally, a message went out to all Systems Administrators earlier this morning.First, please do not visit any website that may have posted the Excel spreadsheet. It may be a source of malware that could compromise the House IT network and your data.As an important reminder to all House employees, consider the following, if anybody in your office is receiving suspicious or questionable emails (regardless if this is their House or non-House email address), their name along with a personal email address was possibly posted to the Internet.1. Change passwords to all email accounts that they use. Strongly consider changing their non-House email addresses if possible. Strongly consider changing passwords associated with sensitive personal accounts such as banking institutions.2. If they wish to have their House email or phone number changed, please call or email the CAO Technology Service Desk at 202-225-6002 or 1-800-HIR-USER Because of the threat of spear phishing, be extremely suspicious of any links that they receive in any email.3. Members and staff should contact United States Capitol Police Threat Assessment Section at 202-224-1495 and local police should they receive any threats or observe suspicious activity. If you have questions regarding the spreadsheet please call the Technology Service Desk at the number below. Call or email the CAO Technology Service Desk at202-225-6002 or 1-800-HIR-USER for any questions.
Sincerely,Philip G. KikoChief Administrative Officer

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Authenticity Election

The rise of the unlikely candidacies of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders has seemingly come as a surprise to a lot of folks, but it shouldn’t. Every election has a personality…a veritable stream of shared consciousness…and this one is no different.

In modern times we have many, including “Hope” in 1992″, “Soccer Moms” in 1996, “Security Moms” in 2004, “Enough is Enough” in 2006, “Change” in 2008, and now, “Authenticity”.

After decades of “made for tv” candidates–which, ironically, Trump actually is–the patience of the electorate is exhausted from the perfect hair, in the perfect outfit, with the perfect backdrop of “real America”, reading perfectly poll-tested lines from a teleprompter.

It is the implied social contract of political campaigning that we all accept and understand: this candidate is intentionally telling us things that he or she knows to be a) false, b) impossible, c) both. We go along with it and clap politely at all of the appropriate times because we think that despite the pageantry and bullshit our candidate is the best.

Let’s just be honest, we’ve all had enough.

We are ready for a candidate who may have slightly mussed hair, may curse at both appropriate (and inappropriate) times, may say something off script…something that may even be [gasp] not politically correct.

They are not worried about how the media pool will report it. You know why? Because they are real people, living in the moment, speaking from the hip and from the heart. They are candidates comfortable in their own skin and telling the electorate, “Here I am! I have dry scalp, orange skin, wild ideas (that you actually kind of agree with in one way or another), and I’m very likely to say something crazy at any point. Vote for me, vote against me, I don’t care.”

And, based on both the results from Iowa and New Hampshire, and the national polls, it’s working.

You know why? Because it implies authenticity. It means they are real. We can identify with someone real. In this day and age of politics the electorate is willing to support someone they do not agree 100% with if they find them to be authentic, honest, and credible.

It is the difference between watching the WWE and the UFC. It is about true belief, not the suspension of disbelief.

The so-called rise of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump isn’t attributable to some mass psychotic break by the electorate. It is directly attributable to election after election of candidates that held more in common with a display at Madame Tussaud’s than real people.

Authentic candidates will continue to do well, but the biggest threat to the more traditional candidacies of Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton isn’t the two guys currently leading the authenticity primary , it is former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

He is a Democrat-turned-Republican, philanthropist, multi-billionaire who is keen to take on guns (both legal and illegal), crime, public health, and affordable housing. He has unlimited access to money and isn’t moored to the dogma of a party. He’s Ross Perot without the crazy VP pick or the grating voice and staccato delivery.

Based on the chaos created by the authenticity election, Bloomberg is better positioned than any third-party candidate since ol’ TR and the Bull Moose Party. The kicker? He has all of the authenticity with none of the crazy. He is the 800-pound gorilla in the room ready to wreck the Tea Party, both literally and figuratively.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Crosspost: The San Antonio Civil War of 2015

As seen on

Strother: The San Antonio Civil War of 2015

Colin Strother, a strategist on the Jose Menendez for Senate campaign, pulls the curtain back on how they were able to pull of what many in the capitol community saw as a huge upset over Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer 

Editor’s note: Quorum Report has previously reported on the analysis offered by Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer about the tough race in which he was defeated by Sen. Jose Menendez. We now offer the other side of the argument for your consideration – SB

I’ve been on more than a few underdog campaigns.

In 2004 I engineered the defeat of then-Congressman Ciro Rodriguez in the Democratic Primary and defended the seat two years later. To say we beat the establishment is an understatement. Trial lawyers, environmentalists, labor, and party officials (including the state party chair) marshaled all of their resources against us to no avail.

The special election and runoff to replace former Sen. Leticia Van de Putte in 2015 looked the same on paper: A largely ineffective yet beloved partisan in Trey Martinez Fischerchallenged by Jose Menendez, a commonsense problem solver with relationships across the aisle and an unparalleled work ethic.

The San Antonio Civil War of 2015, as I’ll call it, wasn’t exactly brother against brother (although media consultant James Alderete was with Trey while his brother Eddie Alderetewas with Jose), but it pitted neighbor against neighbor and friend against friend. Although I was Jose’s first Chief of Staff I am also friends with Trey.

Since the 19-point win we laid on the favorite I haven’t had many questions about why or how we did it. Instead, it’s mainly been met with astonishment. After all, Trey was supposed to be the roughest, toughest, rootinist, tootinist, guy West of the Brazos.


He was a paper tiger who had never been in a real fight, but was certain that if he ended up in one he could whip anyone. He took bad advice from bad consultants who were unable to overcome 14 years of Trey painting himself into a hyper-partisan corner.

Trey had spent years cultivating his brand as a partisan “fighter” and focused on getting headlines. Jose, on the other, hand spent nearly the exact same amount of time just being Jose: building trust and good will both in the district and in Austin, getting to the table where decisions were being made, and getting results.

When voters – Democratic voters – were presented with the empirical evidence, they chose the work horse over the show pony.

When Democrats found out that he was receiving tens of thousands of dollars from Republican donors like predatory lender Trevor Ahlberg they either voted against him or stayed home (either outcome a victory for us). When Democrats found out that he represented money laundering clients and profited from insurance lawsuits while serving on the committee that regulates insurance companies they were repulsed in a way far exceeding our hopes.

Do not believe the amateurish “analysis” that says State Senator Jose Menendez was elected by Republicans. The data paints a decidedly different picture.

In fact, even if zero Republicans voted in the runoff Senator Menéndez still wins by 922 votes – not exactly a squeaker.

The fact is that in the entire runoff we did not target a single Republican. If a Republican got one of our mailers or a doorknock it was either an accident or the result of a house divided. We beat Trey with Democrats by exposing who he really is. We did it without the glitz and the headlines, just the raw data about who was funding him, his voting record, and his lack of a legislative record.

So how did we do it? I’m glad you asked. It was simpler than one might imagine.

First, we assembled a team of worker bees and eschewed queens. Second, we challenged the candidate and committed him to a plan based on data instead of daydreams. Third, we went old school: ID, persuade, and turnout.

In fact, if I had my way we would not have spent one penny on television. I felt it was an exercise in vanity and the results from the first round of the Special Election backed that up. But, the truth was that donors expected to see us on television and see that we were competitive in terms of our buy versus Trey’s buy. We had to spend money on a worthless endeavor in order to make money for our worthwhile endeavors.

We obliterated any semblance of an echo chamber and fostered a culture that could only be described as “perpetual disagreement” where every idea, strategy, and message was rigorously debated, cussed, discussed, and honed until it was beyond good.

We played for the win from day one in both the first round and the runoff. Trey on the other hand was urged on by ego and bad advice to pursue an outright victory without a runoff. (He spent $1 million in the first round ($144 per vote!) and was left with an empty tank for the Runoff Election. In fact, if it were not for a $250,000 check from Steve Mostyn just before the 8-day report in the runoff Trey would have reported about $26,000 cash on hand.)

While Trey narrowed his path to victory at every turn until it was the width of a soup spoon we widened our path to victory at every turn until it was the size of a superhighway. He ended up needing to thread the eye of a needle from 100 yards and we ended up needing to throw a hotdog down a hallway.

Ultimately this race reflected the personalities of the two candidates.

Trey tried to muscle all Democrats into turning out while Jose worked to persuade targeted Democrats that he was the better option and turn out only the ones who supported him. Our campaign made decisions based on a desired electoral outcome rather than a desired profit margin for the consultants involved.

In fact, at a meeting with potential donors a prominent member of the San Antonio business community held up our budget and pointed out how low our administrative costs and overhead were and used that as a motivational factor to raise more money for our effort.

We put the rubber to the road instead of the money in our pockets. Campaign Manager Kevin Lopez worked for a pittance. Media and mail were done for cost by Laura BarberenaSean Gagen at Grassroots Solutions completed 97% of our targeted door contacts in less than three weeks for only $45,000. Sandra Hernandez at Prestige Printing cranked out our printed materials at the speed of light at a price far below market rate. If you wanted that new deck for the Summer, this wasn’t the campaign for you.

We knew we needed to be nearly perfect, and we damn near were.

The San Antonio Civil War of 2015 was one for the ages. The contrast in the styles of the candidates was manifested in the styles of the respective campaigns. It was tough for everyone involved and I suspect that some relationships will never be repaired. In the final analysis, the right man won, the best campaign won, and the families of the 26th Senatorial District won big.

Colin Strother is an Austin-based political scientist and Democratic political consultant. He was a strategist on the Menendez for Senate Campaign. He can be found at

The complete column from Colin Strother can be found in the R&D Department.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Governor Greg Abbott Inaugural Address Word Cloud

Not wanting our new Governor to feel left out, I gave Governor Greg Abbott’s inaugural address the Word Cloud treatment. “Texas” seemed to be on his mind.

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 10.02.53 AM

Leave a comment

Filed under Texas Politics