Knocking on doors and making personal phone calls are going to be the best ways to spend political dollars in local races this year, Brandon Lewis, a founder of the Republican Majority Builders group, said Monday.
"It's not in administration. It's not in overhead. It's in voter contact, that's what really drives elections," he told members of the Hamilton County Pachyderm Club. "That's what the Majority Builders is about."
The Republican group the Majority Builders offers memberships at these levels:
* Founder: $100 per month
* Patriot: $50 per month
* Patron: $25 per month
* Member: $10 per month
Mr. Lewis cited U.S. Sen. Bob Corker's 2006 campaign for Senate, on which he worked, as an example of a campaign that spent funds effectively. He said Sen. Corker's Democratic opponent, former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr., D-Tenn., had "about twice the staff we had."
"Harold Ford would always show up with about five or six people in an entourage, three or four BMWs, and here comes Corker in an old beat-up Chevy that they put 200,000 miles on," he said.
Chip Forrester, chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party, said that statement mischaracterized the Ford campaign.
"There was a very strong grass-roots effort," Mr. Forrester said.
Mr. Corker won the 2006 Senate election by about 50,000 votes out of nearly 2 million cast.
Mr. Forrester said he agreed that direct voter contact should be an important part of this year's campaigns, saying that the Majority Builders "seem to be pulling a page out of the 'Obama for president' playbook." He noted that President Barack Obama's campaign also included a social-networking element that helped people organize.
Mr. Lewis said the Majority Builders' plan will be to focus on hotly contested races to help Republican candidates.
"I think we can really make a big difference on the margins," he said.