California (and New York) never forgave the rest of the nation for spurning Hillary Clinton and electing Donald Trump as President of the United States. But they and the rest of the left coast are out to get revenge on flyover country by pouring money into the 2018 congressional and senate elections.
I noticed this when I realized that I was seeing a lot of political ads for the Democratic candidate for my congressional district in Texas. A little research with the Federal Election Commission (www.fec.gov) showed that as of September 30th, Mary Jennings Hegar, the Democratic candidate, had raised $3.6 million compared to $1.6 million for the Republican candidate, John Carter.
I had been curious about Ms. Hegar because the ads she had been running all summer portrayed her as a military veteran and helicopter pilot, mother and all-round nice person but were devoid of any policy points. As the election gets closer she has now been including a bit more on the issues and positions she supports but that was after many months of ads to establish her good “personess”.
Ms. Hegar’s prospects are not good. My congressional district is solidly Republican in the reddest state in the union – Texas (an aside: why are Republican states red and left-leaning Democratic states blue? Just because some TV station used those colors in some previous election? I think our progressive friends would feel more comfortable in the red colors their comrades prefer.). The fact that she could out raise (and by a substantial amount) a secure Republican incumbent tells an interesting story. If Democrats are willing to pour money into an uncompetitive race what will they be willing to give for a competitive race?
The Wall Street Journal ran an article (Democrats, Flush With Cash, Spare No Expense on Key Races, October 17, 2018) featuring the race for the sixth congressional district of Kentucky where the campaign for Democratic candidate Amy McGrath said that they had raised $1 million in the first two weeks of October. McGrath, in addition to being a veteran and Marine pilot, is probably also a nice person. She is running a centrist campaign (from the ads I have seen) in a competitive district. But her funding tells another story.
As of September 30th, Ms. McGrath had raised $6.7 million to her opponent’s $4.4 million. The FEC’s data on state-by-state donations is only from June 30th (and only breaks out donations over $200) so the numbers are not directly comparable. But by the end of June Andy Barr, the Republican incumbent, had raised $973 thousand in his home state of Kentucky while Ms. McGrath had raised only $386 thousand. But she had raised a whopping $842 thousand in California, New York and Massachusetts (218% more than her home state – Mr. Barr’s top three states accounted for only 27% of his funding). Looks like left-coast liberals like her a lot better than her home state folks.
The Dems like to complain about money in election politics and try to suppress free speech through election campaign laws but they apparently do not hesitate to use it. They complain about the dark money coming from the Koch brothers but lap it up when it comes from George Soros.
And while we are on the subject of campaign financing let’s not forget that Hillary Clinton’s campaign raised $623 million while Donald Trump’s campaign raised only $335 million (Obama also raised more than Romney in 2012).
Back here in Texas, everyone is going gaga over Beto O’Rourke who is running against Ted Cruz for the Senate, and has raised $61.8 million against Cruz’ $38.1 million. Mr. O’Rourke is not veteran but is apparently a nice person and very likeable (at least according to his campaign ads). He has also raised a good deal of money from California and New York (Cruz joked that the sign above Hollywood should be changed to “Betowood”).
Of course, none of this is illegal. Americans are free to donate to any candidate running for office. So are America’s corporations, PACs and other institutions. And nice people as well as veterans are certainly welcome additions to our political choices. But I don’t vote for people because they are nice. I vote for their positions on issues that matter to me.
And for those ads paid for with both in-state and out-of-state donations? They become so annoying that they are more likely to get me to vote against rather than for their candidates. Thank goodness for the DVR.
Attack ads are effective because they appeal to raw emotions. Democracy requires reason so it does not fall into populism and consume itself. So ignore the campaign ads, do some research (sample ballots are available online) and go out there and vote your conscience.