Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Live By The Sword, Die By The Sword


The two venal and equally corrupt party establishments have created an electoral system where the cost of entry has put all the power into their own hands. The parties' leaders in DC have helped prove the costs of elections so sky high that no one can afford to participate other than themselves and the wealthy self-funders they back.

I was laughing my ass off the other day when one of my informers inside the DCCC told me that after the DCCC got stuck with a nearly unelectable candidate, Gil Cisneros, in what should be the easiest of the Orange County GOP-held districts (CA-39, the one Hillary one with the biggest margin), their whole vile scheme started coming apart of the seams. Cisneros is a conservative "ex"-Republican who knows as much about public policy than Rue and Rooney, the two dogs in the neighborhood that I give dog biscuits to on my hike every morning. The DCCC didn't care about the district until after the current incumbent, Ed Royce decided to retire. But by then, it was too late. The DCCC had directed Cisneros and another candidate to run there instead of in the district they both lived in because they did care about the other district but not about CA-39. (The most inept of all the lame DCCC staffers, Kyle Layman, was largely responsible for this kerfuffle.)

Anyway, to make a short story long, the DCCC embraced Cisneros because he's rich and bribed everyone he needed to bribe. He spent $4,739,403 on the primary, after putting $4,552,762 of his lottery winnings into his campaign. After he beat legitimate candidates who could have won, he told the DCCC and California Democratic Party he expected them to start paying for things, like field organizers. They told him to go fuck off and as much as admitted to him that the reason they backed him was so that they wouldn't have to spend their own funds in the district. Now they're at a standoff another air is heavy with acrimony.

Remember when Obama did an event for the DCCC on Saturday in Anaheim? So far the only southern California candidate Obama has refused to endorse is Cisneros. But Layman stuck him up on stage with Obama anyway. He also neglected to invite Ammar Campa-Najjar to the event and when Obama personally invited him and sent him tickets, Layman wouldn't allow him onstage. That guys like Layman-- rather than elected politicians-- are allowed to run loose without supervision is disastrous for the Democratic Party. Polling in CA-39 may turn around but right now it shows Cisneros losing. The latest polls in CA-50 show a 46-46% between Ammar and Drunken Hunter-- with momentum completely with Ammar. Leave it to Layman and the DCCC to force another loss.

Is it any wonder billionaires who can, have been going around the party establishments and doing their own thing? Yesterday McClatchy ran a piece by Adam Wollner, Rogue billionaires are giving the GOP and Democrats a migraine, about people with enough cash to tell their respective party establishments to buzz off and play politics the way they want to, not the way party bosses what them to. Wollner is sympathetic to the establishments. I'm not. He focuses in on how Republican Richard Uihlein and Democrat Tom Steyer are "irritating" the bosses, who Wollner refers to as "their political parties" and "party leaders" instead of... oh, say "assholes" or "incompetents" or something more descriptive and accurate. Wollner assumes that people like Kyle Layman know something. He should rethink that.
The two billionaires have backed candidates and causes that Republican and Democratic leaders believe are detrimental to their chances in November. Uihlein, the founder of a Wisconsin-based shipping supplies company, has boosted insurgent conservative candidates over the GOP’s choices in several races. Steyer, a San Francisco hedge fund manager, has poured cash into a campaign to impeach President Donald Trump, an effort many Democrats view as counterproductive at best.

“Both parties have never been weaker than they are at this point in time,” said Jim Manley, a longtime Democratic operative. “It allows vanity projects to dominate the process. These wealthy donors are taking over functions that have usually been left to the parties in years past.”

While Uihlein and Steyer have ranked among the most generous donors in recent elections, they are stepping up their activity in 2018 as they try to pull their parties further from the political center.

Both have contributed nearly $30 million each to outside groups so far this cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political spending.

It’s unclear how much more Uihlein plans to give, but he’s already spent more than he did in the last two election cycles combined-- $24 million. And Steyer, after spending $74 million in 2014 and $90 million in 2016, has pledged to spend a total of $120 million in 2018.

Only Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam have outpaced them to this point, shelling out $55 million so far to two super PACs aligned with Republican congressional leadership.

Uihlein hasn’t picked many winners this cycle, and some Republicans think his efforts have only weakened their position in races across the country. Following multiple accusations of sexual misconduct against Roy Moore last year, most Republicans in Washington abandoned their nominee in his Alabama Senate race. Not Uihlein, who gave $100,000 to a pro-Moore super PAC.

In Illinois, where Uihlein resides, he backed state Rep. Jeanne Ives to the tune of $2.5 million as she challenged GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner in the primary. Rauner survived, but is considered to be one the most vulnerable governors running for re-election this fall.

Most recently, Uihlein spent nearly $11 million in the Wisconsin GOP primary to support Kevin Nicholson, a Marine veteran who had never run for office before, and attack state Sen. Leah Vukmir, who was endorsed by the state party. After the bruising contest, Vukmir now faces a tough battle against the well-funded Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

Charlie Sykes, a former longtime conservative radio host in Wisconsin, said the primary forced Vukmir to tack to the right and constantly reinforce her support for Trump, which could now weaken her in the general election.

“The entire race basically occurred because Uihlein was willing to dump in eight figures behind Nicholson,” Sykes. “He would not have been a legitimate candidate without that one donor behind him.”

“If we lose in November, a lot of people are going to look at Uihlein and say, it’s your fault,” added one Wisconsin Republican strategist involved in the race, who requested anonymity to speak candidly.

The next test for Uihlein comes in Mississippi where a special election to replace Sen. Thad Cochran takes place in November. Uihlein supports conservative state Sen. Chris McDaniel over GOP Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who is serving out the rest of Cochran’s term. Republicans fear that if McDaniel emerges from primary, Democrats would have an opportunity to win the seat.

Uihlein has already given $750,000 to a pro-McDaniel super PAC, which has some Republicans concerned that more could be on the way.

“That is a genuine risk. In a small state like Mississippi, if he pumped another $2 million in before the election, he could have a big impact,” said one Republican operative involved in the race. “I worry about that everyday.”

Josh Holmes, a leading GOP strategist, said he thinks Uihlein has been a victim of bad advice, and is holding out hope he will be as active in the general election as he was in the primaries.

“If your advice is to throw $30 million behind Roy Moore, Kevin Nicholson and Chris McDaniel, you’re going to lose all that money. That’s an investment that’s akin to setting a pile of money on fire,” Holmes said. “It’s not the return on investment Republican donors should expect.”

Uihlein did not respond to multiple requests for comment. But one of his closest allies, Illinois Policy Institute CEO John Tillman, explained Uihlein’s donations by saying, “Dick believes in the underdog.”

“He believes it’s important to build mechanisms of accountability for lawmakers from both parties,” Tillman said. “He is pragmatic and realistic about every investment he makes, whether it’s in policy, politics or charitable giving.”

While Uihlein stays out of the spotlight, Steyer embraces it.

Through his “Need to Impeach” campaign, he has starred in his own ads, held town halls across the country, and frequently appeared on TV for interviews. In total, he plans to spend $40 million to encourage voters who want to kick the president out of office to actually vote on Election Day.

Many Democrats, including the party’s leadership in Washington, believe pushing for Trump’s impeachment ahead of the midterms will backfire.

 “The message of impeachment revs up the Republican base,” said Sheila Nielsen, a Democratic donor from Illinois. “I’d rather have those people sleeping on the couch than coming out to vote. Let’s not talk about impeachment right now.”

Steyer’s efforts also have some Democrats wondering whether the billionaire is more concerned about boosting his own profile as he toys with a 2020 presidential run, or helping the party take control of the House of Representatives.

“It’s a bad strategy,” Manley said. “I’d rather see him put that money behind candidates than impeachment.”

Steyer’s groups have been less active for candidates thus far. NextGen America gave more than $1 million to Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a progressive who scored an upset in the Florida Democratic gubernatorial primary this week. At the federal level, the group spent less than $700,000 on ads across eight races. In total, NextGen plans to spend $32 million on the midterms across 11 states, with an emphasis on mobilizing young voters.

Steyer also endorsed liberal state Sen. Kevin de León over Sen. Dianne Feinstein in the Democrat-versus-Democrat Senate race in California. But he has yet to spend money on the election aside from a personal donation to de León’s campaign.

From Steyer’s perspective, the Democratic Party does not have a history of success in the midterms because it has failed to get its core voters to the polls. He and his team are convinced the prospect of removing a despised figure like Trump from office will be a more potent turnout tool for the party’s base than any policy area.

“Democrats need to stop worrying about Republicans, and worry about our base voters that continuously don’t show up to vote for midterm elections,” said Kevin Mack, a political adviser to Steyer.
The pro-establishment bias in this piece is so pronounced and so unselfish-conscious that I suspect Wollner would be shocked to hear he needs to go back to journalism school and start all over again from scratch. Is he, for example, even aware that Feinstein, one of the most shockingly corrupt members of the Senate-- and utterly senile and unable to function-- was rejected by the California Democratic Party for reelection and that the party endorsed Kevin de León? Is he aware that conservative Democrats keep being nominated for statewide office and keep being rejected and that the reason a half million more Democratic primary voters turned out this cycle than anyone predicted was because they were excited to have someone and something to vote for instead of another Republican-lite nothing like Gwen Graham or Philip Levine?

Not talking about impeachment is one approach; talking about it is another. Did Wollner think the two approaches through and make a decision which was better before turning in his OpEd disguised as a news story?

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


At 6:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

After writing this, how can you advocate electing more of them so as to empower the venal, corrupt, evil democrap oligarchy?

I'm smelling sheepdog.

At 6:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What this post reveals is that the wealthy are playing ego games with our nation while well over 90% of us are caught in the crossfire. Under such conditions, there is almost no chance of a restoration of civil discourse and productive governance. Unless Mother Nature has decided enough is enough, we could see the rise of the regional warlord waging wars against his neighboring warlords. And from the sidelines, the MIC will be raking in the valuable assets (the dollar won't mean anything anymore) and taking those profits somewhere relatively safe and civilized.

At 3:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The 99% have been getting peppered by the crossfire for almost 40 years.

The real problem is that they still don't understand it. a third of them think that a fuhrer is the answer... to bleach the nation back to what jesus intended. And a third still think that the democraps will put things back to the "New Deal" and "Great Society" time, which they always refuse to do. always.

Wherever we're headed, we all get the blame for it.


Post a Comment

<< Home