Saturday, November 03, 2012

Under The Radar Campaigns-- Avoid The U.S. Chamber Death Star In California


I'm fairly certain that, all things being equal, many of the Blue America candidates would win Tuesday if they had the funding to compete on an even playing field. It often angers me-- you may have noticed-- when the DCCC abandons progressives to chase after the corporate whores and corrupt Blue Dogs and New Dems they prefer. But there is an advantage to being outside of the DCCC/Inside the Beltway radar. That's where the "all things being equal" thing comes in.

Let me give you an example. A prominent Republican congressman fears that when the story breaks nationally that House Armed Services Committee chairman Buck McKeon is in hock to China (through gambling debts at Sheldon Adelson's Venetian casino), there will be major repercussions for the Republican Party. He urged Boehner to remove McKeon from the committee chair but Boehner refused. So the Republican congressman approached Blue America with a detailed proposal for an Independent Expenditure to take out McKeon on Tuesday. We looked for donors but couldn't find one. Had we started spending big money in the district, however, the GOP or one of their satellite SuperPACS would have easily matched it. The DCCC hasn't spent any money in the 25th CD. Their pathetic pawn in the California Democratic Party, Eric Bauman, is right there with them-- spending nothing, blissfully oblivious to the opportunity.

Polling the Republican congressman got to me, showed McKeon ahead-- by a mere 4,000 votes. That isn't hard to overcome. But the California Democratic party does what it's told from Inside the Beltway and the DCCC takes orders from the obscenely corrupt anti-progressive reptile, Steve Israel, who loathes the idea of independent-minded Democrats threatening his thirst for personal power. Blue America, quite alone, is doing what we can. I fear it isn't enough.

But even if we managed to get a big player to come in and spend against McKeon, there's always Rove, the Koch brothers, his benefactor, Adelson, or... of course the horrible part of the Republican Party known as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce which "has funneled millions of corporate dollars into congressional races across the country." Among 'dark money' groups, the U.S. Chamber is the biggest or second-biggest outside spender in 28 Senate and House of Representatives races in the 2012 elections... The Chamber is in the top two non-disclosing outside spenders in 9 Senate and 19 House races, and is the biggest non-disclosing outside spender in 5 Senate and 10 House races, the new analysis finds. This includes between $1.3 million and $4.4 million in seven Senate races and $500,000 or more in four additional Senate races and five House races. As of October 31, the Chamber had spent almost $32 million in outside money on congressional races." Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division: “The Chamber is flooding the airwaves with partisan political ads, many of them attack ads, and working to put politicians in office to advance its own corporate agenda in the next Congress... The ultimate solution to the Citizens United decision is a constitutional amendment to stop deep-pocketed special interests from wielding disproportionate power in our elections and our democracy. But that’s going to take time, and in the meantime, we sorely need new disclosure rules to prevent secret outside spenders like the Chamber from tipping our elections in the dark of night. Congress needs to pass the DISCLOSE Act, and the Securities and Exchange Commission should adopt new disclosure rules for publicly traded companies. Shareholders-- and voters-- deserve nothing less.”

Here in California, the Chamber is the #1 or #2 biggest spending 'dark money' outfit in 8 House races.
CA-10- Jeff Denham vs Jose Hernandez- $600,000
CA-07- Dan Lungren vs Ami Bera- $490,000
CA-09- Jerry McNerney vs Ricky Gill- $490,000
CA-26- Tony Strickland vs Julia Brownley- $400,000
CA-47- Alan Lowenthal vs Gary Delong- $320,000
CA-52- Brian Bilbray vs Scott Peters- $320,000
CA-41- John Tavaglione vs Mark Takano- $220,000
CA-24- Lois Capps vs Abel Maldonado- $120,000
The DCCC seems to have given up on the two progressives-- Alan Lowenthal and Mark Takano-- at least in terms of spending. Both are in blue-leaning districts and both are on Red-to-Blue. But all Red-to-Blue seems to have done is lure in immense amounts of right wing cash-- almost $340,000 for DeLong against Lowenthal and that $220,000 against Takano by the Chamber. Takano and Lowenthal are not Steve Israel's cup of tea. They are both adamant reformers who oppose the kind of corruption that make his world go round. And both are independent-minded progressives. The candidates where the DCCC is spending big money are less punctilious about corruption, more likely to do what they're told by leadership, more corporate friendly and, overall, less wedded to the progressive values and principles that are anathema to Israel, Hoyer, Wasserman Schultz, Crowley and the rest of the slimy crud Pelosi is leaving the Democratic caucus to.

Here's the latest outside spending profile in the 8 races:

CA-10- $3.6 million for Hernandez (D), 4.3 million for Denham (R)
CA-07- $5.1 million for Bera (New Dem), 2.9 million for Lungren (R)
CA-09- $650,000 for McNerney (D), $3.2 million for Gill (R)
CA-26- $1.8 million for Strickland (R), $2 million for Brownley (D)
CA-47- $850 for Lowenthal (D), $335,000 for Delong (R)
CA-52- $4.6 million for Bilbray (R), $3.6 million for Peters (New Dem)
CA-41- $220,000 for Tavaglione (R), $44,000 for Takano (D)
CA-24- $600,000 for Capps (D), $2.6 million for Maldonado (R)

Now let's look at CA-25, the district the finds Lee Rogers and Buck McKeon facing off. The FEC report, which I know isn't complete yet, shows no money being spent on McKeon's behalf by any outside groups. The Sierra Club spent $10 on behalf of Rogers and, according to this report, Blue America spent $28,108 also on behalf of Rogers. McKeon spent $1,598,810 out of his own campaign kitty (although most of it went to pay family members and cronies and not for real campaign expenses). Rogers' lean, mean grassroots machine spent $303,488 so far. Imagine if the NRCC or Adelson or the Chamber had jumped in. Tuesday we'll see what the final numbers were... and if our stealth campaign, as uphill as it is, was able to turn the money tide.

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