October 24, 2005

Responses to the Anti-Laffey Ad Campaign

Carroll Andrew Morse

In today’s Projo, Katherine Gregg has an excellent roundup of responses to the National Republican Senate Committee’s negative ad campaign against Steve Laffey. A few quick points…

1. Let’s give credit to State Republican Chairwoman Patricia Morgan for acknowledging that not everything is justified in defending Chafee’s seat…

But Morgan said she viewed the first of the two ads, especially, as a personal attack on Laffey, which she considers an unfair tactic that is counter to the kind of campaign she associates with Chafee.
2. I don’t think that Professor Larry Sabato’s analysis is cognizant enough of the facts on the ground…
But seasoned campaign watchers across the country see other clear -- if risky -- strategies emerging in the national GOP's early entry into the '06 Rhode Island Senate race.

"They have to find a way to knock Laffey out fairly early so Chafee can consolidate his own base to take on a strong Democratic challenger," suggests Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

I’m not sure, in this scenario, what base there is to be consolidated. If the establishment tries to knock Laffey out with a purely negative campaign, and Senator Chafee makes no appeal whatsoever to the Republican base, then there is a strong possibility that the base leaves the U.S Senate portion of the ballot blank if Chafee is the general election candidate.
3. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the ads show either how badly campaign finance reform has been implemented, or what a bad idea it is to begin with, or maybe both. I believe the Chafee campaign is being sincere when they say things like…
Citing federal campaign-financing rules barring any coordination between his own campaign and the national-financed ad campaign committee, Chafee also would not say if he had discussed these concerns with the national committee.

His campaign manager, Ian Lang, said: "The senator has had no interaction with the NRSC about these ads, nor can we by law." But when asked the same question directly, Chafee said: "I try not to cross any of these boundaries." Then: "Don't jump to any conclusions."

Thus, we see the result of campaign finance “reform” -- out-of-state-money delivering an out-of-state-message gains the overwhelming advantage in local campaigns. How is that reform? Wouldn’t we be better off if political parties could give money directly to candidates, so they could unambiguously take their message to the people?

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

Here is an interesting artticle on Myor Laffey's departure from Morgan Keegan

2001-05-07 - Keegan picks Edwards to rally troops

By Line:
Tommy Perkins

Following the abrupt departure of Stephen Laffey, Morgan Keegan & Co., Inc., vice chairman Doug Edwards has stepped in as president of the beleaguered local securities giant and now must rally the firm and integrate an army of brokers from its new parent, Regions Financial Corp.

Edwards' annointment by Morgan Keegan CEO Allen Morgan as his heir apparent surprised many of the firm's observers, since Laffey had been Morgan's longtime partner.

Insiders described a "palace coup" in which personality conflicts drove longtime investment bankers and retail producers -- denizens of the Morgan Keegan Tower's 15th floor -- to demand Laffey's removal. But Edwards says the April 25 decision was made six floors up, within the firm's executive corridors.

"I think Steve made the decision to leave based on Allen's decision about his successor," Edwards says. "It's not uncommon for senior executives to pursue their careers elsewhere when it becomes clear they're not the next in line to head the company."

As news of Laffey's departure broke on Memphis Business Journal's Web site the next morning, company executives spent much of the day on conference calls with branch managers around the region.

Edwards says that while some of the firm's employees were initially "unsettled" by the news, he added that employees and managers remain "very positive about the culture that exists at Morgan Keegan" and downplayed the suddenness of the announcement.

"When a guy makes a decision to leave, it's best to go ahead and leave," he says.

Appointed president and COO last October, Laffey's power extended well beyond his administrative tasks, to oversight of the company's private equity and institutional equity business, its investment banking -- "everything except bond trading," in the words of one former insider.

As chairman of several investment committees, Laffey directly oversaw the firm's boutique of private equity investments and its "knowledge corridors" branch of analyst research. Edwards says those committees remain intact and will pick new chairmen "in short order."

Morgan Keegan will bring in three executives to assume Laffey's duties. In addition to Edwards, managing director and institutional broker Collie Krausnik will oversee the firm's equity capital markets division, which includes sales and trading. There, Krausnik will be assisted by vice chairman John Stokes.

For the present, Edwards says the role of COO at the firm will be dropped.

The executive shifts also follow a series of post-acquisition disturbances at the firm, which once prided itself on its independent status. Aside from the executive personnel changes, the firm has also weathered the loss of three top analysts and rumors that roughly a dozen brokers could jump ship to the firm's competitors.

But Edwards says this too will pass.

"Change always presents an opportunity for your competitors to shoot at your people," he says. "What we hope to do is get our people resettled and refocused and let people know that the culture at Morgan Keegan is not going to change."

Going forward, he says that means the firm will continue to stress its prowess in retail sales, fixed-income and equity securities products such as stocks, bonds, investment advice, and corporate finance.

"Where I see us now is as the premier investment firm in the South," he says. "As the region grows and as Regions Financial grows, so will we."

With roughly 100,000 accounts from Regions transferred to Morgan Keegan, Edwards says much of the transition is behind the firm, which is settling in to its role as Regions' investment banking arm.

"I can tell you this: Regions has been very supportive of every initiative here," Edwards says. "We've been given a good bit of autonomy and we expect to have that autonomy as long as we can perform."

Still, the firm whose marble offices tower over the Mississippi River and cast a distinct silhouette within the Bluff City skyline will have to adjust to life in the shadow of the Birmingham, Ala., bank holding company.

"We're in a difficult time as a division of Regions," he says. "We're not a public company anymore, and, for the most part, our focus is going to be on doing those things that our parent wants us to do. We're not going to be reporting a lot of segment information, because we're part of a larger company today."

Copyright(c) American City Business Journals Inc. All rights reserved.

You can view this article on the web at:

Posted by: caswell cooke, Jr at November 14, 2005 5:09 PM