CR casino opponents' hired strategists had a good election cycle

Todd Dorman
Published: December 10 2012 | 2:51 pm - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 3:12 am in

Rick Smith reported late last week that Des Moines political consultant Jeff Link and his Link Strategies firm is doing research work on behalf of the emerging opposition to a Cedar Rapids Casino bid:

In recent weeks, the opposition has surfaced by way of a phone survey designed to assess how voters in Linn County felt about the Cedar Rapids casino proposal of an investor group led by Cedar Rapids businessman Steve Gray.

Jeff Link, a Des Moines campaign consultant to candidates and referendum campaigns, on Friday called the phone survey "a basic survey to understand where people stood on the question."

He added, "I don’t understand the confidence of the other side based on the numbers I saw."

Link said the coalition that is forming to oppose the Cedar Rapids casino idea will include those who oppose gaming on moral grounds, those who believe gaming is a tax on the poor and those who think that the state has enough gaming casinos and that a Cedar Rapids casino will harm others nearby.

Dan Kehl, an executive at Kehl Management Inc. and CEO of casinos and resorts in Riverside and Larchwood, is among those who actively will be part of the Cedar Rapids casino proposal, said Link, a partner at LinkStrategies. He said he assumed the other casino interests in the nearby communities of Waterloo, Dubuque, Clinton and Tama that depend on Cedar Rapids customers also will be part of the opposition effort.

Today, an email popped into my inbox from Link Strategies touting a lengthy list of victorious candidates and ballot measures the firm worked for in 2012. Not too shabby:

Link Strategies 2012

Election Cycle Victories

 Link Strategies partner Brad Anderson served as Iowa State Director for the Obama for America campaign, helping increase turnout from 2008 and securing a 5.8 percent win for President Barack Obama in Iowa over challenger Mitt Romney.

 Link Strategies provided research, message and general consulting services for Ghana’s incumbent President John Dramani Mahama, who won the country's presidential election over rival Nana Akufo-Addo.

 Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear cruised to a 23-point win in 2011 over opponent David Williams with the help of Link Strategies research.

 Senator-elect Chris Murphy of Connecticut used Link Strategies for research and defeated Linda McMahon, despite being outspent by more than $20 million.

 Link Strategies provided research for Wisconsin Senator-elect Tammy Baldwin, who defeated former Governor and HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson by 5 points.

 Congressman Bruce Braley of Iowa used Link Strategies for research, fundraising and general consulting, defeating Ben Lange for the second time, by a margin of 15 points.

 Rep.-elect Cheri Bustos of Illinois utilized Link Strategies for research and unseated one-term GOP Rep. Bobby Schilling, despite millions being spent against her.

 Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord used Link Strategies' research, which helped him secure a second term in one of Pennsylvania's "top elected fiscal-watchdog posts."

 Salt Lake County, Utah, Mayor-elect Ben McAdams used Link Strategies for research, defeating his GOP opponent, Mark Crockett, by nearly 10 points despite the county having more registered Republicans than Democrats.

 The North Carolina Senate Democratic Caucus utilized Link Strategies' research expertise in helping state Senator-elect Gene McLaurin defeat GOP opponent Gene McIntyre by six points.

 Link Strategies provided research to the Kentucky Democratic Party and Kentucky Family Values in order to win four state House seats.

 Senate Bill 5 was repealed by Ohio voters following a successful campaign, "We Are Ohio", assisted by Link Strategies with video tracking.

 Link Strategies managed two successful bond referendums in central Iowa. In March, 2011, a bond referendum to build a new Wellness Center in Indianola passed with 77 percent of the vote. In August, 2011, Link Strategies led the effort to pass a bond referendum to build a new Public Safety building in Johnston with 82 percent of the vote.

 Former First Deputy Commissioner Timothy Cullerton took on Tom Caravette in the 38th Ward in the race for Chicago City Council, ultimately defeating him with the help of Link Strategies research.

 Michele Smith narrowly beat Tim Egan by 220 votes in the battle for Chicago's 43rd Ward, using Link Strategies for research.

I'm not sure which strategic gunslingers the pro-casino forces will be employing, but clearly, they'll have their hands full. The opposition now has skilled hands on deck, and existing casinos will be willing to spend plenty to nip this thing in the bud.

This is going to be really interesting. Will a casino referendum pass, or will it end up like Nana Akufo-Addo? Stay tuned.

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