Friday, August 23, 2013

And... They're Off! Congressional Candidates Are Vacuuming Up Contributions And Corporate Bribes For The 2014 Elections


Electing rich Republicans and New Dems won't help-- quite the contrary

Recently I asked a very plausible candidate running for Congress why the DCCC wasn't helping him raise money. He told me that they wanted him to raise $500,000 by himself first and that then they'd revisit the discussion. Do you know enough people in raise $500,000 to run for Congress? It seems like a barrier for ordinary citizens, especially working and middle class ones, don't you think? Earlier this week, The Hill broke a story, widely reported everywhere, about the richest Members of Congress. Some of them are really rich-- and all the very, very richest ones are conservatives and vote consistently for the special interests of their class and against working families' interests (both parties). Although he started as a mere carjacker and arson-for-profit criminal, Darrell Issa (R-CA) is now the richest Member, with at least $355 million in net worth. #2 is Michael McCaul (R-TX), who married into the Clear Channel empire. 29 of the 50 richest Members are Republicans and many of the millionaires in Congress became rich while Members of Congress, like Paul Ryan (R-WI), who basically never made an honest buck in his life.

Coincidentally, Bloomberg ran a report about how the contribution hunt is on and how some incumbents are already falling behind. It's a particularly superficial story but thereare still some useful points that can be gleaned from it.

Most candidates get most of their money from special interests, not from the voters in their districts. So Congress' gargantuan unpopularity isn't holding many of them back from raking in the dough.
Congress has an approval rating of 14 percent and a disapproval rating of 81 percent, according to a Gallup poll conducted Aug. 7-11.

Republicans in Congress had a 19 percent job approval rating and a 73 percent disapproval rating last month, according to a July 28-31 Quinnipiac University survey. For Democrats, 31 percent approved and 61 percent disapproved.
Who's bringing in how much and who's winning and losing the money game is always a thousand times more important-- a gazillion times more important-- than anything concerning policy to the Beltway Bubble media. They can even make it dramatic: "About a quarter of the 28 most endangered House incumbents have an unusual common problem: well-funded opponents." Fortunately (for them) they don't deal in nuance. For example, no mention that super rich San Diego New Dem Scott Peters is a major self-funder who virtually bought the seat with his own wealth last time ($2,757,452), something extremely encouraged by the DCCC, part of the reason Congress is plagued with so many wealthy conservative Democrats. Instead, we get "In California, Republican challenger Carl DeMaio, a former San Diego City Council member, entered July with $469,645 to spend, close to the $525,891 that Democratic Representative Scott Peters had in his campaign bank account." That's enlightening. And this: "Democratic Representative Patrick Murphy of Florida, who ousted anti-tax Tea Party favorite Allen West in 2012, raised $1.1 million this year through June 30, more than any other candidate representing a congressional district whose voters preferred the presidential nominee of the other party." No mention of the rich daddy who started his own SuperPAC to smear his son's opponents.

CA-21 is an overwhelmingly Latino majority district (72%) and Obama creamed Romney there last year, 55-44%. DCCC incompetence is the only reason the district is represented by a Republican, David Valadao. And the DCCC looks to be matching that incompetence this year. No amount of money and no voter advantage will defeat an incumbent if you don't have a credible challenger. The DCCC hasn't recruited one yet.
Republican David Valadao, running for re-election in a California district that backed President Barack Obama in 2012, raised $464,095 through June 30. He has yet to draw a top-tier challenger.

“Early money helps scare away opponents,” Republican consultant Eddie Mahe said. “Unless they can see a reasonable path to victory, I think they will stay out.”

In other districts, it’s as though last year’s elections never ended for some members.

Republican Representative Mike Coffman defeated Democratic challenger Joe Miklosi by 2 percentage points in 2012, and immediately was put back on the target list for this season.

Now, both candidates in the Obama-backing 6th District in Colorado, Coffman and former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, the 2014 Democratic challenger, reported raising more than $1 million apiece. Romanoff entered July with more money than Coffman in the bank, $918,417 to $854,854.

Romanoff was one of three Democratic challengers with more money to spend than the Republican incumbents. The other two were in New York.

In the 11th District, which takes in Staten Island and part of Brooklyn, New York City Councilman Domenic M. Recchia Jr. had $666,072 in the bank as of June 30, compared with $576,733 for two-term Republican incumbent Michael Grimm, who also had debts of $455,649, most of it for legal fees. He faces Justice Department and House Ethics Committee investigations into his fundraising, including allegations he accepted illegal campaign donations.

In a district primarily located south of Albany, Democrat Sean Eldridge reported raising $747,943, including $215,000 from his own pocket, and had $639,255 in the bank. Republican Representative Chris Gibson, seeking a third term in Washington, raised $452,894 and had $430,987 cash on hand.
No reason to mention that Eldridge will probably lose because voters in the district see him as someone who just moved in with a wad of cash-- hubby is one of the founders of Facebook-- so he could buy a seat? You can read all about that one here. Eldridge doesn't answer policy questions-- at least not publicly. We have no way of knowing what he tells his wealthy friends about how he'll vote... probably a lot like the other millionaire New Dem conservatives: badly.

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