But the group’s advocacy in Wisconsin is just the latest example of how its state chapters are increasingly focused on state and local issues. AFP has more than 200 full-time paid staffers in offices in at least 32 states, The New York Times reported last week.
“The idea is to embed staff members in a community, giving conservative advocacy a permanent local voice through field workers who live in the neighborhood year-round and appreciate the nuances of the local issues,” the paper reported.
AFP has spent tens of millions on Senate races so far this year and last week released what appears to be its first 2014 TV spot affecting a governor’s race, National Journal reported. It’s been involved in a mayoral race in Iowa and property tax fights in Kansas, Ohio and Texas and, in Arkansas, the group succeeded in turning the state legislature red for the first time since post-Civil War Reconstruction. That chapter has so far spent $1.4 million in ad buys, our colleague Jaime Fuller reported last week:
It’s gotten even harder to notice their grassroots presence, since they’ve mostly given up on rallies and bus tours in favor of canvassing and phone banks. But without their “grassroots army,” they say all that spending would be for nothing. “Without the strength of our on-the-ground activists, we wouldn’t have achieved what we have achieved,” says [AFP-Arkansas director Jason] Cline.
The group’s chapters have also ramped up efforts to discredit the president’s health-care law, not only campaigning against federal lawmakers who supported it, but also urging state policymakers to oppose Medicaid expansion. Last month, the Louisiana AFP chapter began distributing letters to state lawmakers urging them to sign pledges to oppose the expansion of Medicaid in the state under the Affordable Care Act.