Ballot Initiative - Missourians for Fair And Impartial Courts Action Fund


In the Summer of 2010, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and leading corporations in the state announced plans to challenge the state’s no-partisan courts plan courts via ballot initiative. Seeking a friendly judicial environment for big businesses, the special interests sought to return Missouri to the days when judges were selected for the political beliefs and not their qualifications. The Chamber and its allies leaked plans to spend nearly $2 million in the race. Faced with threat, Missourians for Fair and Impartial Courts Action Fund (MCICAF) turned to Terra Strategies to help combat the initiative. With Terra’s help, MCICAF executed a campaign that preserved Missouri’s non-partisan courts and defeated the Chamber and its allies.


The Terra Strategies Solution


Recognizing there was no way to complete head-to-head with the other side’s $1.5 million war-chest, Terra Strategies and MCICAF made a strategic decision to try and defeat the opposition before it even got off the ground. The idea was to slowly bleed the other sides resources during the early stages of the campaign, so it would not have such an enormous cash-on-hand advantage during the Fall.


To start forcing the other side to spend its millions, Terra spearheaded a field campaign designed to make it extremely difficult for the other side to collect the signatures it needed to get on the ballot. Terra sprang into action by designing and organizing an aggressive strategy to educated citizens who might consider signing the Chamber’s petitions.


Instead of communicating with these citizens on TV or radio, the Terra campaign did it face to face. Terra organizers shadowed the other side’s signature gatherers. When these signature collectors approached citizens for support, Terra’s team presented the other side. This real-time, rapid response approach to voter education resulted in tens of thousands of potential petition signers becoming convinced not to sign their name to the Chamber’s petition. As a result, the opposition was forced to hire more canvassers and pay more per signature.


The Terra organization was built to be quick and nimble. We were able to coordinate our field team to move in concert with the opposition. When their circulators were spotted in the field, we deployed our own team to the same blocks. This targeted approach preserved financial resources for MCICAF and increased our campaigns overall effectiveness.


The Result


Immediately following the submission deadline, an analysis of the signatures collected showed that supporters of the ballot initiative failed to collect sufficient signatures to qualify the measure for placement on the November ballot. Despite being outspent by 500%, our targeted and efficient operation met MFICAF’s objective by effectively preserving Missouri’s Nonpartisan Court Plan.