Mike Kueber's Blog

October 15, 2011

Campaign financing gone wild

Filed under: Issues,People,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 5:18 am
Tags: , , ,

Earlier this week an article in Politico.com reported on the crop of promising political stars who were looking to make a big move up in the next election.  What were the criteria for earning a place in this prestigious grouping?  Actually there was only one criterion – how much money the candidate had been able obtain raise in the past few months.  Thus, Politico could have labeled this group as the greatest money grubbers, but instead it generously adorned them as promising stars.

Who is on the list of ten?

  1. Massachusetts’ Elizabeth Warren is attempting to unseat Scott Brown, the Republican who claimed Teddy Kennedy’s seat.  She is a lightning rod for controversy, and her claim to fame is her role in creating a consumer-protection agency for the Obama administration.  In a mere six weeks, she has collected $3.1 million.
  2. Illinois’ Tammy Duckworth is also an alumnus of the Obama administration, but that apparently is not the sole reason for her fundraising prowess.  She ran for Congress in 2006, and lost despite raising “an eye-popping $4.5 million,” but the profile fails to say how she was able to raise so much money back then.
  3. Texas’ David Dewhurst is the Lieutenant Governor who is running to replace Rick Perry as governor.  In addition to the $2.4 million that Dewhurst raised in the first quarter, he added $2 million of his own money.  [Loaning that results in a significant financial advantage over your opponent is like buying an election.  Un-American!]  Lieutenant governor is an exceptionally powerful position in Texas, with the occupant of that position having almost unlimited access to special-interest money.  Rick Perry is known for his “pay-to-play” corruption, but that game has been played in Texas for a long time.
  4. Florida Democrats Lois Frankel and Patrick Murphy are competing for the opportunity to retire conservative talk-show star freshman congressman Allen West.  Frankel raised $415k in the first quarter and Murphy $313k.  Florida Democrats hope
    that their candidates don’t spend all of this money to do permanent damage to each other, with the result that the winner vulnerable to West, who raised $1.9 million in the quarter.
  5. Ohio’s Joe Mandel raised $3.8 million in six months for his Senate race.  The profile fails to explain why money is flocking to Mandel, but there is a mild suggestion that his opponent Senator Sherrod Brown is the cause.
  6. San Antonio’s Joaquin Castro raised $500k in the first quarter, but he will need more than that because he is leading an intra-party mutiny against Austin’s Lloyd Doggett, who raised $375k and has $3.3 million in the bank.
  7. Arkansas’s Tom Cotton is a Republican Young Gun, and while the profile describes his financial connections, it neglects to specify the amount of money collected.
  8. Iowa’s Christie Vilsack has raised $750k in her first six months.  She is relying on connections made through her husband who is Obama’s Secretary of Agriculture and who was governor of Iowa.  Inexplicably, her incumbent opponent raised only $200k in the first six months of the year.
  9. New Hampshire’s Ann McLane Kuster has raised $730k in the past six months.  She is planning to raise $3 million, which is
    $500k more than she raised in 2010, losing to the same guy.  The money will allow her to buy TV ads in the expensive Boston market.  According to the article, Kuster is so successful at raising money because nationwide liberal special-interest groups, such as EMILY’s List and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, really like her.

Politico explains the fundraising acumen of these candidates as follows:

  • “Some are tapping national fundraising networks, casting their nets far beyond the states and districts where they are
    running. Others are raking in funds from the party activist set.  A few are enjoying the fruit that comes from running against a controversial foe who stirs partisan passions.”

Instead of exploring the skillset that enables a candidate to amass a huge war chest, I think Politico should be focusing on the systemic dysfunction that enables moneyed special interests to have outsized influence on who succeeds in politics.  The voters are supposed to select the winner, but in the practical world of politics today, the special interests select the winners – which is exactly what one of the leading liberal special interests admit – EMILY’s List or “early money is like yeast.”

We should be working to decrease the influence of money whenever we can.

1 Comment »

  1. […] a lot about public financing of political campaigns.  To the contrary, a year and a half ago I blogged about the tendency of the media to elevate candidates who could raise a lot of […]

    Pingback by Public financing of City Council campaigns | Mike Kueber's Blog — May 8, 2013 @ 11:12 am | Reply


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