Just after 4 p.m. last Thursday, several New York City political reporters received an odd telephone call at their desks and on their cell phones.
“During your next election,” insisted a woman’s recorded voice, “when you are choosing which consultant to help you with your campaign mail, remember that Jim Spencer and the Campaign Network have no business calling themselves progressives when they’re currently representing a Tea Party candidate!”
The robo-call referenced the heated special election in New York’s 26th district– way out west, near Buffalo, where Mr. Spencer was working for the third-party spoiler, Jack Davis–but the area code indicated Boston. For weeks, Mr. Davis, had endured withering attacks from national Republicans who branded the former Democrat a Tea Party traitor, but the call, strangely, said nothing of Mr. Davis’s policies. The electronic woman only mentioned his campaign adviser.
“A negative call that targets a political consultant???” wondered Albany reporter Liz Benjamin on Twitter, as the political chattering classes tried to make sense of it. “[C]uriouser and curiouser. Check out where that number’s listed. Weird.”
In fact, the call had gone out to every member of the state legislatures in North Carolina, Massachusetts and New York, along with political operatives and reporters in New York City.
“The only reason I got involved is because I like Jack Davis,” said Steve Kramer, a robo-call specialist based in New York, who told The Transom he orchestrated the call out of disdain for Mr. Spencer.
“I saw him operate in a certain way with the Jack Davis campaign, and spoke with enough of his former clients to get a real profile of this guy,” said Mr. Kramer. “I’m so glad he’s old and that he’ll die or be out of the business soon, because he’s a real scumbag.”
Mr. Kramer–cherub-faced and prone to wearing shiny dress shirts–boasts a client list with 59 members of Congress and countless governors and state legislators. Generously, he declined to unleash his call in the 26th District, out of concern it might damage the candidate instead of Mr. Spencer.
“I want to hurt his business,” said Mr. Kramer, who gloated, “I also hit 3,500 people in his Boston neighborhood.”
Mr. Kramer said he would have liked to see Mr. Davis elected to Congress, but fears Mr. Spencer and his aides led a good candidate astray.
“Jim Spencer is a total prick, and Curtis Ellis [the campaign manager] is a whiny little bitch,” said Mr. Kramer.
Mr. Spencer, for his part, said Mr. Kramer is just “disgruntled” over his short-lived stint working for the Davis campaign, and added, “This is some kind of weird, personal vendetta.”
Mr. Ellis declined to respond directly, but said it had been a weird race.
“This campaign is like an acid trip,” he said.–Azi Paybarah