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Conservative College Students Mobilize in Vermont


American Majority Campus Director Scott Ellis had the opportunity to visit our Vermont office to train students at Vermont universities who are leaders in new conservative groups on their campuses. These trainings took place at Lyndon State College, Castleton State College, Norwich University, and The University of Vermont.

The trainings worked to equip each group to grow its numbers, effectively utilize social media, and become an active force on campus. Scott encouraged students to grow their campus groups by selling their group to potential members on campus, even with different interests than their own. He encouraged students to create a powerful social media strategy  for their group and to use it effectively as individuals. He encouraged students to run for student government and become part of their school’s newspaper.

The students are tackling big issues. They are concerned about free speech only being allowed in certain zones, how student tuition dollars are being allocated, and getting other students engaged in political issues. Throughout the trainings they shared these frustrations and ways that they are working to make a difference in their school systems.

The Young Americans for Liberty Vermont State Chair, Michael Miley, was at the first training for his group at Lyndon State and then attended the other three trainings to see how he could work with the other schools across the state. After the week he said:

The American Majority Campus Activism training session was informative, entertaining, enlightening. It was a sharp, dynamic event that covered all of the important tools today’s campus activist needs in an engaging and concise way. I hope my campus group will be able to overturn our college’s speech codes, specifically, and raise on-campus awareness of liberty in general.

Through continued work with Michael and other students in Vermont, Scott, along with American Majority Vermont, hopes to continue to be a resource for growth amongst college campuses in the Green Mountain State.

How to “Go Negative” Without Getting Nasty


Election season. Ah, it’s fun times. I always look forward to it, the palm cards, yard signs, door-to-door, fundraiser and sign wave craziness… but sometimes, I’m just ready for the negativity to end. Am I alone in feeling this way? At our training sessions, new leaders often ask how they can show contrast between themselves and their opponents without “going negative.” It’s a good question- and it’s a skill, so I think it’s important that we talk about it.

1. Don’t be afraid to illustrate differences.

Elections are inherently about conflict- there is good and evil, right and wrong, liberty and oppression, and voters must choose between them on election day. Showing contrast is an important campaign strategy, particularly for challengers. With the high retention rate for elected officials from the local level through Congress, as a candidate, you are asking voters to reject the person who they know, who they may have voted for previously, in favor of you. Choose the devil they don’t know over the one they do, so to speak. You must give them good reasons to vote for you. Part of that is illustrating the differences between them, the voting electorate, and the incumbent, or other candidate.

2. Hold them accountable.

In a republic where we democratically elect our rulers, it’s important to hold those rulers accountable. And even if your campaign isn’t victorious, discussing voting records and illustrating bad choices to the voters is an important part of holding government accountable.

3. Understand the strategy.

Incumbents or favored candidates will use the “incumbent” strategies, where they appeal to the trappings of office, their current title, their aura of prestige and power to illustrate their legitimacy. Challengers, however, must use a different strategy if they are to be victorious- they must draw the voters’ attention to the opponent’s record, and call for change.

4. Never touch the family.

In a campaign I worked several years ago, my family was attacked on the blog of a key member of the opponent’s campaign, so I can tell you from personal experience- this is not ok. Please, don’t do it.

5. Illustrate votes and stances on the issues.

If you keep your contrasting messages during your campaign focused on the issues and show the votes that your opponent made, you will be able to resist the personal mudslinging that can often ensue. And after all- aren’t campaigns supposed to be about the issues?

6. If your opponent attacks you, respond.

I once worked with the man whose firm created the Swift Boat Ads during the Bush/Kerry campaign and he told me something that has really stuck with me- he said the entire election might have been different if Kerry had responded to the Swift Boat ads when they first came out. Learn from this: if your opponent attacks you, respond. Now, I say that with a caution- measure the importance. If it’s a campaign ad shown throughout your district in which your stances on the issues are pulled into question? Probably ought to respond to that. If however the opponent makes an offhand snide remark about you on the local radio show- probably not important enough to respond to. You have to be willing to let some things roll off your back, or you’ll turn what was a one-newsday issues into a two, three, perhaps even four-newsday problem. But when an attack comes that must be answered, answer it.

7. Along those lines, answer in kind.

If your opponent takes out a full ad in the newspaper hammering you, don’t record a radio ad responding to it. You will likely hit different audiences, meaning that the radio audience now knows about the newspaper ad when they wouldn’t have otherwise, and the newspaper audience doesn’t see your response. Respond in kind, and respond quickly.

8. Be willing to use surrogates.

You might not be the best person to answer every charge from the opponent, or to draw every comparison. If there is someone within the community or your campaign who is better equipped than you, don’t be afraid to utilize their strengths.

9. Clarify what comes from you.

Sometimes a PAC or issue group will engage in negative campaigning on your behalf- because of federal laws, you as the candidate cannot be advised in advance of what their message will be, what form it will be in (mailer, radio, etc), or when it will hit. But you may take a backlash as a result. For example, in 2004 a PAC sent out a mailer that was very negative toward my candidate’s opponent, and we received a lot of angry phone calls and emails. In cases such as these, it’s best to simply make clear that your campaign had nothing to do with the attack, and try to move on as swiftly as possible.

10. Never, ever make a reference to your opponent’s voting record or issue stances unless you are 110% certain that it is true.

Credibility once lost is difficult to regain- do due diligence to know the truth before you speak it. You owe the voters nothing less.

If you’re looking for candidates to support, use these tips to help you determine who is running a more honorable campaign. If you’re helping a candidate you believe in, use these strategies as you work towards his or her election. Remember, talking about the issues and voting records is not negative campaigning- so let’s stick to that, and let the voters have their say.

Use AmazonSmile to Support Conservatives

Shop at Amazon SmileWith busy lives and tight budgets, it’s easy to find excuses to not contribute to our favorite causes and charities. At American Majority, we’ve found a way to help you support the conservative cause without taking an extra dime out of your wallet.

If you’re anything like me, you find yourself shopping more and more online. We’re proud to announce that American Majority is now participating in AmazonSmile. This innovative program allows you to direct a percentage of the cost of your online purchases to the conservative cause and American Majority without any additional cost to you.

As you know, principled leadership in America is needed now more than ever. By using AmazonSmile to support American Majority you can help us educate conservative leaders and activists across the country!


The Twitter Government & Elections Handbook

Twitter Government and Elections HandbookThis month Twitter published a helpful 137-page guide for campaigners that details the do’s and don’ts of how to effectively use Twitter. As their managing editor states:

“All politics is local.” This time-honored maxim may never have been as true as it is today, when citizens across the country can connect directly and immediately with elected officials and the issues they’re most passionate about, simply by using Twitter.

The American Majority team is always looking to point you to new cheat sheets and guides — whether we write them ourselves or they are published by another team. Check out our campaign and activist resources here. And follow us on Twitter!


Campus Majority-Trained Mary Gainey Runs Successful Assembly Campaign

Campus Majority Trained

Races are heating up for November elections but some elected positions, barring a historic write-in campaign, have been decided through heated primaries earlier this year. The open 97th assembly seat in famous Waukesha County, WI was to be one of the most competitive races during the August 12 Wisconsin primary. Knowing that the primary winner would be unopposed in the general election, six candidates threw their hat in the ring. The eventual winner, Scott Allen, won the race through not only his own hard work, but that of his campaign manager, Carroll University senior Mary Gainey.

The American Majority Wisconsin team got to know Mary at the networking training at Carroll University on April, 22nd 2014. Originally from San Francisco, CA, Mary arrived in Wisconsin three years ago to study political science. She started out by looking for ways to volunteer or intern in the local political scene. In her words, “There’s no harm in asking. It’s one of the bravest things you can do to impress people.”

Through her search, she landed an internship and was hooked on Wisconsin politics. She started attending local political events to network and get more involved. Throughout different events she met many professionals, including Scott Allen. This connection ultimately led to her position as the campaign manager for his assembly race.

Mary’s summer consisted of the campaign day in and day out with little time for relaxing. Her typical day started at 6:30am by checking e-mails, meeting with Scott for 15 minutes to map out campaign essentials for the day.

Then she worked with the graphic designer and printer on campaign signs, apparel, and literature. From here she entered data for walk lists that Scott needed for doorknocking, often making new lists as he was going door-to-door. She worked on labels for lists, marked who needed thank you notes, yard signs, and which voters should be contacted next.

She had to be ready for anything. Once she re-enter nearly 200 names and their information into the campaign system to make sure the walk lists weren’t thrown off. When all of this was over she would be back at home, going to bed, and the next morning would wake up and do it all over again.

When asked what the key to the campaign’s success Mary says, “follow-up.” Scott Allen did not raise the most money in the primary, but he knocked on doors, left notes for voters who were not at home, sent postcards, called voters who he had missed, and left voicemails for those who didn’t answer. The campaign revisited wards and checked if voters needed anything or had thoughts on the 97th assembly seat. Through this follow-up, the campaign took 34 percent of the vote to win the six-way primary.

Mary’s life is winding down after the campaign and ramping up with her final year of undergraduate work. For students who are interested in politics, Mary advises to not be intimidated by those you find in the political field. There is “politics in everything” so picking political science will give you the opportunity to do what you want with your degree.

Would Mary want to run a campaign again? “Yes, no question.”

30,000 Conservatives Trained in 45 States!

American Majority Trains 30,000 New Leaders and Activists

American Majority trained our 30,000th individual trainee last weekend at a Boot Camp Training in Atlanta, Georgia. That’s 30,000 new leaders and activists who have gone through American Majority’s cutting-edge trainings that equip them to be agents of change in their local communities. Many have gone on to run for state or local office, while many more found a way to use their unique skills to bring fiscal sanity to their hometowns and states.

American Majority trains 30KOur success is in part due to the radical idea that change does not begin in Washington, but in our state and local communities, where a significant percentage of government spending occurs. We believe that if enough people will organize at the local level, it will lead to a groundswell that will bring national, generational change. This belief has rung true for the tens of thousands who have attended one of our trainings in 45 different states.

Since our founding in 2008, we’ve held 862 live, in-person trainings, led by a great staff comprised of political veterans and grassroots experts. Nearly 1,500 new leaders have signed our New Leaders Project pledge to identify new leaders in their communities to run for office.

This summer we launched a new American Majority Webinar Training Series, at which we’ve trained 515 new leaders and activists how they can better connect with voters on social media, organize in their communities, and hold their elected officials accountable.

But it’s not the numbers that matter. It is the lives that have been impacted and the leaders who have been empowered. At the local level, we are seeing school boards and village boards flipped from liberal control to conservative control. Leaders like Scot Shumski are shaking things up on the Burlington, VT school board, and Brian Logue is challenging the status quo on his county board in Wisconsin.

Training on dozens of college campuses, we’ve also worked with conservative college students to invest in their development and effectiveness through our Campus Majority program. This spring we partnered with Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) to help train 1,716 students and activists at YAL’s state conventions.

We are incredibly proud of our trainees: men and women who don’t whine and complain, but who are actually doing real things to make a difference. We are just getting started at American Majority and we plan on doing much, much more in the years to come.

How Persistence Pays Off

In this continuing series, we explore the results of a survey conducted among more than 50 state and local new leaders asking for any voluntary advice they might give to new or inexperienced new leaders seeking elected office.  Part 9 can be found here.

In all things related to your campaign, keep trying. Be persistent! Is fundraising not going well your first four weeks? You certainly will not get anything if you give up. Calvin Coolidge once said the following:

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race (more…)

American Majority’s Kayla Gabrielse Named a 2014 Right Woman To Watch

Right Wisconsin has selected their 2014 Right Women to Watch and we’re proud to announce that American Majority Wisconsin Field Staffer Kayla Gabrielse is among them.

Excerpt from Right Wisconsin:

The Right Women to Watch will recognize conservative women who are on the rise and making a difference now in Wisconsin. 

This year’s Right Women to Watch are:

Kayla Gabrielse

Kayla Gabrielse is a Field Staffer for American Majority Wisconsin. Prior to her current position, Kayla led efforts for American Majority Action’s Sheboygan Liberty Headquarters in the fall 2012 election cycle. Since joining American Majority, Kayla has spearheaded American MajorityWisconsin’s Women Activist Trainings, which empowers women to expose the Left’s fake War on Women Narrative, learn how to tell their stories to change hearts and minds, and use social media effectively.

In the past year, she has helped American Majority to their most successful spring election cycle, with 42 trained candidates winning their spring elections. She has also taken part in “Insight 2014″ Young Guns Panel,  a Women’s Panel at the Wisconsin Conservative Leadership Conference, and explained why “The War on Women Won’t Work in Wisconsin” for Right Wisconsin.

Kayla is quickly becoming a conservative woman to watch as she continues to inspire and train the next generation of conservatives.

Read the rest here.

Writing a Winning “Thank You” Letter

In this continuing series, we explore the results of a survey conducted among more than 50 state and local new leaders asking for any voluntary advice they might give to new or inexperienced new leaders seeking elected office.  Part 8 can be found here.

No matter how you go about fundraising, one thing should always remain constant: providing thank you letters. There is some flexibility here; most ‘Thank you” letters can be generic, which allows you to let volunteers or campaign members send the letter without your signature. Personal friends or relatives and very large donors should still get a personal note or message. There is little that will sink future funding as quickly as an ungrateful candidate, especially if you have a primary election where you could ask for a second donation later in the year. (more…)

Do Your Homework

In this continuing series, we explore the results of a survey conducted among more than 50 state and local new leaders asking for any voluntary advice they might give to new or inexperienced new leaders seeking elected office.  Part 7 can be found here.

Think back to when you were in high school. This might mean a time before the Internet, computers, mobile phones and cars that went faster than 50 mph. Did you enjoy spending your precious time doing schoolwork for classes that you haven’t used since? Did you think it was a waste of time? Thankfully, the homework that you put in your campaign can pay off — big time. One of the most common questions a new candidate often has is “Where can I find willing financial donors?” This is where your homework comes in. (more…)

If You Can Mention Donations, Do It. Here’s How.

In this continuing series, we explore the results of a survey conducted among over fifty state and local new leaders asking for any voluntary advice they might give to new or inexperienced new leaders seeking elected office. Part 6 can be found here.

One of the most important things you will have to do as a candidate is raise money. In fact, the number one job for each candidate is to raise support. During your campaign, there will be many times when you will have the opportunity to say something for a closing remark: during TV or radio interviews, meet and greets, fundraisers, campaign flyers, even personal and professional relationships. These are excellent opportunities for putting in a plug for donations. (more…)

Running for Office? Be Prepared To Self-Finance

In this continuing series, we explore the results of a survey conducted among over fifty state and local candidates asking for any voluntary advice they might give to new or inexperienced candidates seeking elected office.  Part 5 can be found here.

First time candidates usually expect they will have to contribute something to their own campaign, but few realize exactly how much they will usually end up contributing. Because you will not be receiving many donations at the onset of your campaign, most of your initial expenses will have to come from your own wallet. (more…)

20 American Majority-Trained New Leaders Advance to November

104 trained wi leaders

American Majority Trains Conservative New Leaders to Shape Government

Over the last few years, American Majority Wisconsin staff has been training New Leaders across the state who then decided to take the challenge and run for state or local office. After yesterday’s contests, 20 American Majority Trained New Leaders advanced to November.

American Majority works to build a farm team of New Leaders at all levels of government. The farm team builds from the most local level of government where citizens often feel the most impact.  These leaders are also the folks who will hopefully take the next step to run for higher office down the road, creating a pipeline of conservative public service.

Matt Batzel, the National Executive Director of American Majority, who works out of the Wisconsin office, said “Since opening our Wisconsin office in October 2010, we have trained 104 New Leaders who’ve gone on to victory. We are proud of our trained leaders’ successes after encountering American Majority, and look forward to congratulating a next round of winners this November. Conservatives who step forward and sacrifice to run for office are making a difference to improve their state.”

Hosting Winning Private Fundraisers

In this continuing series, we explore the results of a survey conducted among over fifty state and local new leaders asking for any voluntary advice they might give to new or inexperienced new leaders seeking elected office.  Part 4 can be found here.

Fundraising is a board category with many definitions, depending on circumstances. At its basic etymological core, it literally means raising money. However, the implementation of fundraising can range from mass mailings, radio advertisement, rallies, or even mowing lawns. The context we will look at today is that of private home fundraisers.


Vermont Issues Activist Trainings Coming to You


How Montpelier Affects Your Life and Livelihood

American Majority Vermont and the Ethan Allen Institute are offering a series of training sessions on Four Key Issues and How to Use Them. (See below for details on dates/times/locations.) We will give you the facts and the stories you need to effectively communicate your point of view on the most important topics of the day. At a cost of $15, which includes dinner and materials, each session includes five 30 minute presentations on:

  • Jobs & the Economy: The truth behind the numbers
  • Single Payer: How it will impact healthcare, jobs, and people
  • Education Taxes: The ever-increasing property tax
  • Education Reform: How to control costs and improve outcomes
  • Ideas & Activism: How to implement real change

August 5 Issues Training, Lyndon

Lyndon State College, Rita Bole Community Room, 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm. (Registration opens at 5:00 pm). Reserve your spot now.

August 6 Issues Training, Rutland

Rutland, College of St. Joseph’s, 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm. (Registration opens at 5:00 pm). Reserve your spot now.

August 12 Issues Briefing, Northfield

Norwich University, 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm. (Registration opens at 5:00 pm). Reserve your spot now.

August 13 Issues Briefing, Essex

Essex Grange Hall 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm. (Registration opens at 5:00 pm). Reserve your spot now.

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