Reince Priebus won't be behind the wheel of a stock car, but the the Republican National Committee is going to Daytona International Speedway.
Spectators at this weekend's NASCAR races in Florida will be encouraged to register to vote. You might say the party's staff and volunteers will be "at the races" — literally.
It's part of the kickoff of the RNC's new drive to register potential supporters and build a ground game earlier in the cycle, with operations in key states across the country over the July Fourth weekend in what the RNC is calling a "National Day of Action."
With a base in the South, NASCAR has generally attracted a more conservative audience that's receptive to the Republican message.
RNC supporters also are said to be organized for a slew of parades and fireworks displays in the Midwest, as well as airshows in the Northwest. There also is an effort tied to naturalization ceremonies in the western part of the country.
All told, more than 500 volunteers and RNC staff are expected to participate in collecting data and recruiting additional volunteers for future efforts.
"We've been holding one-on-one meetings to train and recruit Neighborhood Teams since April. I can't overstate the positive impact of face to face interaction, and the personal attention our staff is giving to each and every volunteer," a committee spokesperson told CQ Roll Call. The source said last month the RNC started house parties to expand the volunteer base and engage activists "in a comfortable setting that demystifies the RNC and improves the party's relationships locally."
The RNC aide said the party kept staff on the ground from the 2014 cycle to maintain relationships built during what ended up being banner elections for the GOP. "Two-thirds of the volunteers participating this weekend are first-time RNC volunteers. Not only does this show the enthusiasm among Republicans, but it is also the earliest we’ve mobilized our volunteer network," the spokesperson said.
On June 16, the Republicans announced the launch of a program to train new field organizing personnel, billed as the "Republican Leadership Initiative."
According to a fact sheet circulated at the time, the goal is to "provide the RNC a deep bench for hiring staff in target states. State parties that hire a substantial number of RLI participants will spend far less time training staff."
While the RNC's primary goal will be to run against Democratic presidential frontrunner and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the party clearly hopes the early engagement with potential voters will play dividends in other races. More broadly, candidates and state party committees will have access to the RNC's data, staff and volunteer base.
"Our eventual presidential nominee will have the support of a trained, dedicated, and prepared team of organizers and volunteers, which will not only help Republicans win the White House but also help us win races up and down the ballot," Priebus said last month.
An example of that might be the home of NASCAR's Coke Zero 400 — Florida has a competitive open-seat Senate race next fall since Republican Marco Rubio has opted to run for president instead of seeking re-election. The race is rated a Tossup by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call.
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