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Inside the GOP Playbook

Allen Raymond with Ian Spiegelman, How to Rig an Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative (Simon & Schuster, 2008)

How to Rig an Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative, chronicles Allen Raymond’s decade-long career with the GOP, a path that leads him from the mires of local New Jersey politics to the heights of the 2000 Forbes presidential campaign, and eventually to a stint in federal prison due to his involvement with a phone-jamming operation during the 2002 elections.

Along the way Raymond recounts the smears made to enact a power grab within the RNC, his first encounter with Karl Rove, and the invasion of a Bergen County Republican headquarters by Israeli nationalist radicals. The memoir is, by turns, illuminating—“RNC elections were supposed to be about courtesy among a unified group of friends…we decided we’d slip the documents under everyone’s doors while they were sleeping”—pithy—Rove “disappeared the thing like it was a witness at a mob trial,” and exciting—“militants…were trashing the place and screaming at the top of their lungs.”

Raymond’s anecdotal accounts of each successive campaign feature their own unique cast of characters, each with their own distinct loyalties. He wisely uses an informal, conversational tone throughout; the style allows him to impart the integral set-up information to the reader with an economy of words—and usually some humor as well. For instance, he recalls his meeting with new RNC political director Curt Anderson, as that of “a moderate Northeastern Republican walking into the very den of the assault rifle knuckle-draggers.” Such a description instantly details Anderson’s character as well as his intra-party allegiance. Additionally, this straightforward approach lends a much-needed sincerity to Raymond’s growing disillusionment with his party that dominates the closing sections of the book, a conclusion which could easily have been undone by excessive snark and bitterness.

The tale of Raymond’s meteoric rise and fall fascinates on several levels, not the least of which is its close parallel to the fortunes of the Republican Party over the same time span. But it is his candid enumeration of dirty-tricks electioneering, behind-closed-doors power, and money-funneling at each level of the political game that makes the book a compelling, guilty pleasure of a read—and hopefully not a preview of things to come.


James Arnett


The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2008

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