Two days after sending out a fundraising appeal, 1st District candidate Tracey Mann brought in $10,000 – $7,000 short of his stated target with a day left until the close of the fundraising quarter.
Last week, Mann jumped to second place in a SurveyUSA poll, suprising, if not outright shocking, many observers. Other campaigns in the Big First have needed to adjust their strategies because of Mann’s surge. Tim Huelskamp, Jim Barnett and Rob Wasinger have all been busy attacking each other for most of the race, virtually ignoring Mann until his Washington D.C. fundraiser earlier this month. After that, Huelskamp was the first to strike, criticizing Mann for his campaign slogan, which is also being used in races in Tennessee and Alabama.
“The entire rationale of Mann’s campaign is based on a bogus slogan that he bought from an out-of-state political consultant,” said Huelskamp Campaign Manager David Ray. “Just last week, Tracey Mann was shaking down Washington DC lobbyists at a swanky fundraiser attended by Members of Congress and former Members of Congress at a place called the Capitol Hill Club, and now he wants to act like he’s not a political insider. That’s just not believable.”
The Mann campaign, however, shrugged off the attack, running what could be the most tightly focused race in the Big First. Mann is running on agriculture interests, which isn’t a bad strategy considering the rural nature of the district. Other campaign’s ads tend to focus on how conservative their candidate is, covering everything from social issues to “Obamacare” to ag policy. Mann, on the other had, has one short TV ad that puts the “death tax” front and center.
Moreover, Mann waited for the right time to go big. At this point in the campaign, pretty much everything is already out there. Huelskamp has the fundraising lead, and a boatload of endorsements. Barnett already enjoyed high name recognition from his gubernatorial run. Wasinger is making his race about the economy. Mann let the other campaigns fight, and built a ground game that is starting to serve him well. The campaign swarmed McPherson a few weeks ago, running out of yard signs because of the demand.
Mann is making one last swing through the district, running through the second week of July. Many voters in the district are already seeing him as a second Jerry Moran, and if he keeps up the fundraising, Tracey Mann might just become the one to beat in August, instead of the dark horse others originally saw him as.