On the Republican side, Ed Gillespie's Republican State Leadership Committee is working with Karl Rove's American Crossroads to take over state governments, with a cadre of big donors chipping in to support their efforts, the New York Times' Nicholas Confessore and Monica Davey report. On the Democratic side, unions focus on state elections, as do a few major donors, but not in the same nationally coordinated way, leaving many elections slipping through the cracks on the Democratic side.
Take Michigan, where Republicans have used the lame duck session to speedily enact a slew of far-right laws they did not talk much about during their election campaigns. Gillespie's group has put $1.6 million into Michigan legislative races, and Gov. Rick Snyder was elected with the help of similar efforts:
In 2010, the Republican Governors Association sponsored $3.5 million worth of television commercials promoting Mr. Snyder and set up a Michigan affiliate that gave $5.2 million to the Michigan Republican Party.Because of Republican efforts like this, and Democratic failure to match them, "Starting next year, Republicans will have one-party control in almost half of the state capitals in the country." Some of that is left over from 2010, but far from all.
The spending appeared to be part of a money swap that was engineered by the governors’ association, according to Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, a watchdog organization. The spending by the group almost exactly equaled the amount contributed to it by Michigan donors, replacing money that largely came from Michigan corporate donors and could not legally be given to Michigan candidates with funds from wealthy out-of-state contributors, such as Mr. Perry and David Koch.
Money shouldn't dominate our political system the way it does, of course. But it does. Rich Democrats need to take a page from the Republican book in their funding strategies, if not in anything else.