Super PACs a Super PROBLEM for NC Politicians: 1,000 high-dollar contributors wiped out by 1 Super PAC contributor The Hypocrisy of Congressman David Price’s Moral Outrage Post: Friday, February 24, 2012 Vol. V, No. 7 11:13 am Joe Democrat and Joe Republican Get $1 Million Imagine 1,000 high-dollar contributors writing a check for $1000 each
Super PACs a Super PROBLEM for NC Politicians: 1,000 high-dollar contributors wiped out by 1 Super PAC contributor
The Hypocrisy of Congressman David Price’s Moral Outrage
Post: Friday, February 24, 2012 Vol. V, No. 7 11:13 am
Joe Democrat and Joe Republican Get $1 Million
Imagine 1,000 high-dollar contributors writing a check for $1000 each and giving them to Joe Democrat, all breathing a collective sigh of relief knowing that once again they have secured their power in North Carolina with a million-dollar financial advantage. Now, imagine 1 contributor writing a check for $1,000,000 and giving it to Joe Republican’s Super PAC. That’s the new political reality of funding campaigns in North Carolina.
Allowing Super PACs to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money independently may be a bad rule for our Democracy, but in 2012 it is the rule. Ignoring Super PACs is unilateral disarmament. President Obama came to that conclusion last week. He came to a similar conclusion four years ago when he changed his mind about limiting his campaign spending to public funding.
Obama’s decision to abandon public funding in 2008 allowed him to spend $760 million to John McCain’s $358 million. It’s why he won. He is not giving away that advantage.
David Price’s Moral Outrage Rings Hollow
North Carolina Congressman David Price, D-Orange wrote an opinion piece in this week’s US News and World Report, Super PACs Strike at the Heart of Democracy, in which he says that Super PACs are “a culmination of a decades-long campaign by conservative groups and corporate interests” to gain undue influence in politics.
Where was David Price’s moral outrage over the century-long undue influence by liberal groups and corporate interests when it was being used by Democrats to keep their majorities in the legislature, on the courts and in the executive branch here in North Carolina?
Where was David Price’s moral outrage over undue influence of outside money in North Carolina politics when $5,032,908 was being spent by unions in 2008 on North Carolina candidates, $4,532,540 of which was spent by public employee unions and their affiliated unions? Here are the facts:
- SEANC is Local #2008, affiliated with SEIU (Service Employees Int’l Union)
- SEIU invested $1,810,566 in NC candidates in 2008
- Democrats enjoyed $1,760,556 of SEIU’s money, or 97%; Republicans 3%
- SEIU gave the North Carolina Democratic Party over $1 million
- SEANC (State Employees Assn. of NC) contributed $243,706 to NC candidates
- Democratic candidates received $218,956 of SEANC money, or 90%
- Republican candidates received $24,750 of SEANC money, or 10%
- NCAE (NC Association of Educators) contributed $265,330 to 200 NC candidates
- Democratic candidates received $245,980 of NCAE money, or 93%
- NEA (National Education Association) invested $2,212,936 in NC candidates
- 100% of NEA’s $2,212,936 went to help Democrats; Republicans 0%
- NEA ran a $1.7 million independent expenditure campaign for Bev Perdue
Where was David Price’s moral outrage over the undue influence of money in politics when North Carolina Democrats received 97% of the outside public employee union money and 100% of the National Education Association’s $2.2 million in 2008?
- United Auto Workers union gave the North Carolina Democratic Party over $100,000
- DRIVE, the Teamsters union, contributed $361,617 to NC Democrats
- IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) gave $36,500 to Democrats
- UFCE (United Food and Commercial Workers) contributed over $100,000 to the Democratic Party of North Carolina
If Congressman David Price would go to the website, www.opensecrets.org, and do a search on the largest political independent expenditure groups, he would discover that SEIU was #1 on the list of the Top 100 all-time biggest spenders in 2008. In 2008, SEIU spent $85 million to influence the outcome of elections, and was rewarded by President Obama with support for the Employee Free Choice Act legislation and top White House jobs including political director, and positions on the NLRB and the president’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.
In 2006, SEIU spent $635,000 in North Carolina elections on TV and radio ads, mailings, opinion polls, and Get-Out-The-Vote phone banks – more than ANY BUSINESS PAC in NC. In 2004, SEIU spent $650,000 just on NC legislative races.
SEIU also contributed more than 10% of the total budget of FairJudges.net to run ads statewide for NC Supreme Court candidates in 2006; 3 of 4 were Democrats. FairJudges.net was one of the most unfair stunts pulled by Democrats in modern history. Step 1: Create public funding laws for Supreme Court candidates. Step 2: After the candidates have accepted public funding spending limits, create an independent expenditure committee that allows five times the number of ads to be run on behalf of your candidates. Where was Congressman David Price’s moral outrage then?
NEA and the NCAE invested $1,846,219 to help Beverly Perdue win the governor’s race in 2008. Where was Congressman David Price’s moral outrage then?
In addition to decrying the outside special interest liberal groups’ undue influence over the politics of this state, those “corporate interests” that he is linking to conservative groups have always given a disproportionate share of their money to Democrats, who along with other liberal groups, have helped Democrats defeat Republicans for decades.
During my 25 years of tracking campaign money in North Carolina, I can safely say that if it had not been for “corporate interests,” Republicans would have had a majority in the General Assembly well before 2010, and would have had at least half of the 10-member Council of State.
Finally, Price writes that “outside groups shouldn’t be able to spend unlimited amounts of money to hijack the marketplace of ideas and drown out other voices, including those of candidates themselves.” No group can surpass the Democrats in North Carolina when it comes to hijacking the marketplace of ideas and drowning out other voices to gain undue influence.
Price concludes by writing that the “first steps in restoring integrity in our democracy” are a different balance on the U.S. Supreme Court and/or a constitutional amendment.
If Congressman David Price wants to restore integrity in our democracy he needs to begin by looking in the mirror.
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Thank you for reading the John Davis Political Report
John N. Davis, Editor
 Union contributions and independent expenditures database provided by Civitas Institute
 The Wall Street Journal, SEIU Campaign Spending Pays Political Dividends, May 16, 2009
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Implications of Erskine Bowles’ Decision NOT to Run for Governor; NC Democrats Continue Steep Decline as GOP Ascends to Dominance Post: February 2, 2012 Vol. V, No. 6 UPDATED FEBRUARY 3, 2012 “So right now, McCrory retains the edge, even against the strongest Democrat. But Bowles would have the potential to bring in
Implications of Erskine Bowles’ Decision NOT to Run for Governor; NC Democrats Continue Steep Decline as GOP Ascends to Dominance
Post: February 2, 2012 Vol. V, No. 6 UPDATED FEBRUARY 3, 2012
“So right now, McCrory retains the edge, even against the strongest Democrat. But Bowles would have the potential to bring in a lot of money from across the country to quickly make this a race.” Public Policy Polling, January 30, 2012, More on the NC governor’s race
Bowles Was the Biggest Threat to McCrory; Lt. Gov. Dalton Trails by 15 Points
I can hear the champagne corks popping all over the state as backers of former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory’s campaign for the GOP nomination for governor celebrate today’s decision by Erskine Bowles not to seek the Democratic Party’s gubernatorial nomination. According to polling conducted last weekend by Public Policy Polling, Bowles was the only serious Democratic candidate who polled within 10 points of McCrory, trailing McCrory only 44-42.
Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton of Rutherford County, state Rep. Bill Faison of Orange County and former Congressman Bob Etheridge of Harnett County have announced their intentions to run for governor in the Democratic primary. The Public Policy Poll shows Dalton and Etheridge trailing McCrory by 15 points (50-35); Faison by 19 points (50-31). Former state Treasurer Richard Moore, still considering the race, trails McCrory by 11 points (47-36).
McCrory, the presumptive Republican Party nominee in the race for governor, made his formal announcement in Greensboro Tuesday, January 31, 2012, vowing to put an end to the Democrats’ “scandal-ridden good old boy (and girl) network and fix the state’s broken economy.”
Erskine Bowles was more than a serious threat to McCrory’s quest to be governor, his candidacy would have reinvigorated the North Carolina Democratic Party by attracting much needed national money and talent. Now, the steep political decline continues for Democrats as NC Republicans ascend to dominance.
Bowles Would Have Reinvigorated a Democratic Party in Disarray
The North Carolina Democrats have been in political disarray since losing the state Senate and House to Republicans in 2010 … a first in 140 years.
Compounding the loss of political dominance by Democrats is the fact that Gov. Perdue has proven to be a weak governor and a drag on their candidates. Further, Perdue has been tripped up time and again by allegations of campaign improprieties and the investigations and indictments of key staff and supporters.
“Bev Perdue’s retirement has clearly helped Democratic chances of holding the Governor’s office this fall,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling.
There is no greater evidence of how the political fortunes of North Carolina Democrats have diminished than the campaign finance report filed this week by Sen. Martin Nesbitt, Senate Minority Leader, the most powerful Democrat in the Senate. Nesbitt’s January 2012 report filed with the NC State Board of Elections shows that he raised only $52,264 as of year-end 2011. At the same time two years ago, January 2010, then Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight reported raising $1,519,768.
Mid-year 2011 campaign finance reports showed Republicans in the NC Senate with a 10-to-1 fundraising advantage over the loyal opposition party, a historic first, with NC House Republicans raising four times the money of their Democratic counterparts.
Republicans have Power, Money and Friendly Districts
Power has always meant money; money means you have the resources to hold on to your base of candidates, win most of the close races in “swing” districts, and even raid the opposition’s base and pick off a few of their seats. Republicans have the power, the money … and the districts.
Last November, the United States Justice Department preapproved the Republican-drawn legislative and congressional district maps, virtually assuring Republicans a majority of the seats in both houses of the General Assembly throughout the decade. Two weeks ago, a 3-judge panel ruled against several plaintiffs, including the NAACP, who were trying to delay the May 8 primary elections based on allegation that the maps would re-segregate the state and diminish the influence of black voters.
These two rulings add to the list of legislative and judicial redistricting wins for the North Carolina GOP and suggest that the maps will withstand any future litigation.
Further evidence of a downward spiral for North Carolina Democrats came today as the leading Democrat in the NC House, Minority Leader Joe Hackney, announce that he would not seek reelection. Hackney, who served as Speaker of the House two terms, brings the total number of Democrats not seeking reelection in the NC House to 9, with more to come due to incumbent Democrats double-bunked into the same district.
McCrory has High Favorability Ratings & $2 Million in the Bank
According to polling conducted last weekend by Public Policy Polling, not only was the hypothetical race between Bowles and McCrory a virtual tie, 46% of North Carolina voters said that they are “generally leaning toward voting for a Democrat in the race for governor, with 45% saying they will vote Republican in the governor’s race.”
However, with Bowles out and no other Democrat within striking distance of McCrory, the presumptive GOP nominee’s political fortunes will soar … especially his fundraising.
Favorable findings for McCrory in the Public Policy Polling survey last weekend include:
- McCrory has high name recognition (76%) at the starting gate, with many more voters having a favorable opinion (45%); only 31% an unfavorable opinion
- In a state where 24% of all registered voters are Unaffiliated, Independent voters see McCrory positively by a 55%/25% spread
The year-end 2011 report filed with the NC State Board of Elections shows that McCrory raised $2.6 million from 6,120 contributors last year, and has a little over $2 million cash on hand.
Bowles would have had no problem playing catch-up with fundraising. In both his 2002 and 2004 losing races for U.S. Senate seats won by Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr, he spent $12.7 million and $13.4 million respectively, with $6.8 million coming out of his own pocket in 2002.
Now, Democrats will struggle all year to raise a competitive war chest in the Governor’s race. They simply do not have a superstar like Bowles to re-energize their financial base.
Without a SuperSTAR like Bowles, the Best Hope for Democrats is a SuperPAC
There was a news story last week about SAS co-founder and CEO Jim Goodnight hosting a fundraiser for Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton. Goodnight is generally recognized as the wealthiest man in the State of North Carolina and one of the wealthiest in the world.
Goodnight has a passion for education, especially elementary and secondary. The Public Policy Poll from last weekend notes a potential liability for McCrory, “his close ties to the unpopular Republican legislature and the cuts they’ve made to education.”
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling two years ago in the Citizen’s United case declared that wealthy individuals like Goodnight and corporations like SAS can spend an unlimited amount of money influencing the outcome of political races … provided they spend it independently and not in collusion with the campaigns they are attempting to help.
With the steep decline in the prowess of the North Carolina Democratic Party, and the rapid ascendancy of the Republican Party as the dominant political party, there are only two recovery options for the Democrats: an exceptionally inspirational leader with fundraising muscle or a massive infusion of independent working political capital.
I do not see the exceptionally inspirational leader with fundraising muscle on the list of statewide Democratic candidates. Disagree? Well, who would you say is the Jim Hunt of 2012? That leaves recovery option #2: a massive infusion of independent working political capital.
That’s where the Jim Goodnights of the state meet with the Citizen’s United decision; unlimited funding for everything the party lacks resources to do better than the Republicans … from voter registration and early voting turnout to unlimited millions in advertising dollars targeting every vulnerable Republican in the state.
You can already count on outside money pouring into the state with the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Charlotte and the fact that President Obama likes North Carolina. And, you can count on outside union money pouring in from the coffers of the NEA (teachers), AFSCME (government employees) and SEIU (service employees). But all of that money will pale in significance to the money now allowed under the Citizens United decision.
In the absence of a superstar like Erskine Bowles, the best hope for North Carolina Democrats is a SuperPAC. The traditional 10-to-1 advantage in total legislative campaign funds raised by the majority party is now chump change compared to the potential for a tsunami of outside SuperPAC funding.
There is a new political paradigm in North Carolina politics: the SuperPAC. If the GOP is to continue its ascendancy to political dominance, they must also embrace this new political reality in campaign funding.
Candidate filing begins on February 15, and ends on February 29. The primary is May 8.
Transcript of statement by Erskine Bowles released to AP this morning:
“I will not be a candidate for Governor. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to think what is the right thing for me to do. I don’t think anyone questions my love for North Carolina or my efforts to make our State a better place to live, work , or raise a family . I’ve done my best in this regard and I plan to continue to do so . There are lots of ways to make a difference , lots of ways to add to the community woodpile . I’m excited about helping our State’s and Nation’s leaders move North Carolina and our Country forward . We’ve got big challenges and great opportunities. I’m confident if we can get folks to put politics aside , and pull together , not apart , there are no problems we can’t solve working together. Erskine Bowles”
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