In the North Carolina and Oregon Democratic US Senate primaries this year, two great progressive candidates ran for the nomination: Jim Neal (NC) and Steve Novick (OR). The DSCC, who is not supposed to pick sides in a primary, appears to have secretly funded their preferred candidates anyway (Kay Hagan (NC) and Jeff Merkley (OR)).
If the DSCC leaders personally had a preference, that’s fine. BUT IT IS NOT OK TO FUNNEL MONEY TO ONE CANDIDATE OVER ANOTHER IN A DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY!!!! That's unfairly taking sides and deliberately influencing an election, and that is not what the Democratic Party is about.
According to Greg Giroux at CQ politics...
The DSCC reported $279,000 in “coordinated expenditures,” which are limited by law but can be made in concert with candidates’ campaigns. The largest share of these funds went to assist Merkley, whom the DSCC preferred in the May 20 primary election over Steve Novick, a lawyer and liberal activist who lost by 3 percentage points. The DSCC also used coordinated funds in May to boost the campaign of North Carolina Democrat Kay Hagan, a state senator who is her party’s nominee against Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole
According to Jeff Mapes at the Oregonian...
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sure gave House Speaker Jeff Merkley a nice push past Democratic primary opponent Steve Novick.
The June financial disclosure report shows that the committee forked over more than $250,000 in May paying most of Merkley's non-advertising expenses. The DSCC paid for consultants, transportation (such as an $840 bill from American VIP Limo in Vallejo, Calif.) rent, payroll, telephone, natural gas and even the garbage....
...But the level of direct support was remarkable. All told, the committee spent $386,000 in coordinated expenditures with Merkley, which doesn't count the advertising the DSCC produced and paid for on its own. It helped give him resources Novick couldn't match.
I called up Novick, wondering if he thought he could have won if the DSCC had stayed out of the state. He said he was now backing Merkley, but he couldn't resist saying:
"I'm very proud, and I think my supporters will be extremely proud, that it took that kind of humongous effort to beat us. They clearly gambled that Jeff Merkley had a better chance to beat Gordon Smith and they had better be right...If they're not, a lot of Oregon Democrats will justly be mad at them."
And doing a little research myself, I found a few interesting FEC financial disclosure forms. Check out pages 997-1009 (or 990-1002) of the report. Notice how the DSCC was pumping money into the campaigns of Jeff Merkley and Kay Hagan during the NC and OR senate primaries.
So the DSCC was funneling money to their preferred Democratic primary candidates. NOT COOL! Why did they do this? Well, torridjoe over at the Daily Orygun has some ideas...
Kay Hagan was, aside from Merkley, the most-supported challenger in a competitive primary. Hagan was in a very similar situation, running as a a prominent member of the Legislature--she was in her fifth state Senate term, and ran a campaign rather to the right of that being run by investment banker Jim Neal, who had entered the race first (although by less than a month). Hagan makes Merkley look Socialist by comparison, however; Merkley like Neal calls for universal health care, but Hagan could not bring herself to address that area.
Oh, Jim Neal had one major electoral problem: he was gay. Was it decisive in Schumer's decision to back the much less progressive Hagan? Perhaps not. Did the question of whether gay would play in NC come up? You bet your loafers. But as with the question of whether Oregonians (or anyone) would go for a guy under five feet tall with a hook, it was irrelevant to the more salient question: why shouldn't the voters be given the chance to make the call?
So Hagan got a nice pile that Neal was unable to match. His funding was much more limited than Novick's, so it took less to do it, but make no mistake that Neal got Chuck'd just as badly as Novick did. But note that Hagan got the same kind of help that Lunsford and Landrieu did, the standard stuff--web hosting, "media" and polling. Oh, and while she got $140,000 overall, you know how much I see in May? About $25,000 (of course, her primary was in early May, making April the prime spending month)....
...[For the DSCC’s preferential funding of Jeff Merkley], it even goes beyond that. As Mapes notes, look what a lot of the money went for--not just the standard items, but everyday campaign expenses, clearly forwarded to DSCC for itemized payment: limo rides, cable and gas, Lexis-Nexis subscriptions, health insurance(!), rent, payroll, garbage, shredding, legal, and telephone charges. Also lots of polling, including presumably the polling that tested out their negative messaging from the TV ads--by mentioning the attacks again--seeing if it was dragging down Novick's number.
Which brings us to a solid point made in a comment at Mapes' blog: why would DSCC agree to pay for all this bullshit stuff? The answer is that it's what they legally could pay for. They couldn't actually pay for ads against Novick, nor would they want to have THAT in the disclosures. But those ads cost lots of money to run, money Merkley needed to--you guessed it--pay the gasman, and the cable man, and make rent.
So by paying for the daily campaign stuff, that freed Merkley up to pay for his ad run against Novick. That's no accident. What it means is, Chuck Schumer took money that he had collected from Democrats to help Democrats win elections, and he used it to help a Democrat win an election all right--by subsidizing a character attack on another Democrat.
Think about that next time you're asked for money by the DSCC: where is my money going? Is it going to pay for attacks on Democrats I've never even heard about, in elections I probably don't pay attention to if I'm not a relentless political junkie like torridjoe? Shit, what if I like the person they're paying to bring down, better than the person they're doing it for? Won't I feel a little guilty that by helping "Democrats" in giving to DSCC, I've helped Chuck's idea of what a good Democrat is instead of mine--or more importantly, the voters of that state?
....It's the opposite of the 50 State strategy, and it needs to stop...You should tell DSCC every chance you get: no money until you stop interfering in state primaries!
Ugh, these back-room politics makes me sick.
P.S. Here is a video of a Jim Neal speech in case you don’t know much about him. I am from North Carolina and was a big Jim Neal supporter.
Also, because of the unfair money funneling by the DSCC, Jim Neal put himself in a lot of debt to remain competitive. Considering helping him out at...
Consider helping out Steve Novick as well.
I doubt that the DSCC has written either a check.