Fighting Big Money With Big Money
The liberal plot to—horrors!—raise money to compete with the GOP in the states
If you’re keeping score, which you should be, here’s how the North Carolina General Assembly shook out after last week’s election: Republicans gained one seat in the Senate, raising what was already a GOP supermajority to 34-16; and Democrats gained three seats in the House, cutting into but not overturning the Republican supermajority in that chamber. (Since 2012, the division had been 77-43. Now it’ll be 74-46.)
Basically, it was a wash, not a great sign for the donkeys. As I wrote about this year, N.C. Democrats have a long-term goal of gaining ground in the legislature in the hopes of winning a majority in 2020. Then they can presumably overturn the post-2010 redistricting that’s made the Republican supermajority possible. To do that, they would have to make appreciable gains over the 2014, 2016, and 2018 election cycles—and the first round was a virtual draw.
It’s apparent that the state Democratic Party, rejected as the in-state conduit for Kay Hagan’s campaign in favor of the Wake County party, still doesn’t have its solid waste together. As for the Moral Monday movement, it’s providing much of the energy behind the anti-Republican legislature movement—but that energy didn’t lead to a huge wave of Democratic voters, or even to an appreciation of how high this particular climb will be.
But something else is happening, as detailed by—of all media—The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative web site. The Free Beacon detailed, through leaked documents, a super-secret plan by prominent Democrats and liberals to pour money into state campaigns. It’s an important development because, as a responding Mother Jones piece explains, the GOP as of early 2015 will control 68 of 98 partisan state legislative chambers, the most in the party’s history, and 31 governorships.
This, even more than Congress, is where the country’s real partisan political war is raging. To be blunt about it, the Republicans are currently kicking the Democrats’ asses. The leaked documents reveal Democratic organizers’ plans to build its investment to $100 million by 2020, with the specific aim to regain control of state houses—including Wisconsin’s, Minnesota’s, Colorado’s, and North Carolina’s—and undo redistricting that favors the Republicans. Sound familiar?
The Free Beacon piece paints all of this as a sinister, subterranean plot by a cabal of rich lefties, Committee on States, to undermine democracy itself. The group is, in fact, rather secretive, which is weird, because it hardly needs to be. Committee on States—conceived as a kind of liberal counterpart to ALEC—intends to disburse the money it raises through both direct contributions from named donors and dark money from the all-too-common “educational nonprofits” that serve these days as shadow campaign organizations.
No kidding. We’re living in a post-Citizens United world. These are the rules of this particular game now, and you either play by them or forfeit. The only real scandal here is that, as usual, it’s taken the Democrats a couple of election cycles and a series of profound trouncings to realize the importance of fighting big money with big money.