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Former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove is seen at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida August 27, 2012.
Turning into a joke nationally, but taking over state governments
Republican Super PACs didn't have much impact at the presidential level, where basically everyone knew, going into the election, who President Barack Obama is, and he had enough money to get his message out. It's at the state level, where name recognition for and knowledge about legislative candidates is low and where ballot measures with similarly low public awareness can set state law, that those Republican millions could really make a difference. And Democratic donors aren't putting the same priority into state elections, despite the high stakes.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 07:24 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  fearfully true (0+ / 0-)

    and regardless of my stand on marijuana- i am fearful that if the fed demonstrates a negative position regarding Colorado and Washington and fails- there will be a  backlash from many red states posturing/ asserting their authority over fed mandates.

  •  There is work to do in January (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    deanarms

    County parties have already begun to organize themselves for the future. Now is the time to get involved and help to see that we have opponents in place. Dean was right in 2005. Credible candidates in place will have opportunities to win.

    In my FL congressional distract, a first-term creep received no opposition. Some of that involved the confusion during redistricting, but some involved the traditional complacency of t the FL Dems. I need to get involve. We need to get involved.

    Have you heard? The vice president's gone mad. - Bob Dylan, 1966

    by textus on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 07:58:47 AM PST

  •  We need a strong, nimble and smart Democratic (4+ / 0-)

    Party.  I don't know where things stand with the Obama 2012 database, but I'd like to think it can be a cornerstone for a revitalized Democratic Party that is organized at the precinct level (and lower) and capable of acting quickly and effectively.  

    One thing the Republicans have done successfully (and we should learn from) is playing the long game.  Newt Gingrich powerfully advocated media training so their candidates could make repulsive policies sound palatable, and made it a condition of candidates getting funded.  They cultivate candidates at the lowest levels of government and for seemingly innocuous goevernment bodies (eg, school boards, etc).  That way their ideology can permeate from the bottom up.  We have to fight fire with fire at all levels.  The fight is far from over.

    •  Lol. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Naniboujou

      In my county party, the only people who can vote for new party leadership are folks who got elected to be precinct committee people, or captains, or previous leadership.  So guess who ALWAYS gets reelected?  The system is set up NOT to be "nimble".

    •  Far too many "progressives" and "liberals" see (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shanesnana

      the solutions at the federal level. A part is historical; for example, it took federal level action to end legal segregation. Looking for solutions only at the federal level is a serious mistake our side has made for many years.  

      Embryonic national level politicians are usually to be found in those local and state offices. There is the place to end the political lives of the worst and foster those of the best or even just the better.

      Unfortunately state and local Democratic Committees appear to often be fossilized and even hostile to new ideas. Some seem dominated by a combination of aged seniors (with time to be active) and ambitious young politicians with far too little influence of more diverse thinking. In many cases the charters, originating at state level, discourage bottom up actions, a coin with a good and bad face. Too little policy governance and you get what Republicans suffered with essentially a bottom up hijacking of the party by a minority of extremist radicals. Too little and you get fossilization.

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 03:23:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Very important diary! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    deanarms

    We've been pretty smug since Nov 6 because we did so well at the presidential and senate level.  It's true we dodged the biggest bullet, but we've been bleeding from many smaller wounds - Besides the examples given by the diarist it's important to highlight cases where even when Democrats get a majority of votes they end up with a minority (federal House of Representatives), of sometimes as a majority that gets outmaneuvered with the result that Republicans are in control (New York legislature, or the US Senate if the filibuster isn't abolished).

    •  Not me. I shook my head many times (0+ / 0-)

      over the celebrations here and elsewhere after the elections. Even at the federal level I knew nothing would happen, since we did not come close to recapturing the House. State level and below? Forget it. Some states, like mine (CA) did great, but far too many did horribly (like NC) for me to feel anything but the continued dread I've had since the mid-1990s.

      "Lone catch of the moon, the roots of the sigh of an idea there will be the outcome may be why?"--from a spam diary entitled "The Vast World."

      by bryduck on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 08:25:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  50 state strategy cough Howard Dean cough (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    deanarms

    Can we please implement it now?

  •  Welcome to my world (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FishOutofWater, Naniboujou

    I live in Florida.  The state Democratic Party is I total disarray.

    It's not easy being a Floridian: PS I'm a lawYER now; no longer a lawSTUDENT.

    by lawstudent922 on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 07:37:18 PM PST

  •  well coordinated with the state megastations (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Naniboujou

    their most important tool, endorsed by the biggest universities in every state.

    michigan and michigan state endorse 10 limbaugh/snyder stations and it's basically free PR and advertising coordinated by their think tanks, with advertisers attracted by those university sports associations keeping those stations going and paying for 24/7 snyder/ALEC/GOP crap.

    same in just about every state, with no challenge, while liberals complain about their losing compromising ways.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 07:44:36 PM PST

  •  We're screwed in NC b/c of Pope's millions (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rube Goldberg

    and no offsetting big money for Dems.

    You nailed it.

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

    by FishOutofWater on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 07:52:38 PM PST

    •  NC's overnight change from Dem legislature (4+ / 0-)

      to R was due to one wealthy person's well-placed PAC contributions.  It doesn't take a lot of $ to flip a house or state senate seat.

      Mr Pope figured this out.  Jane Meyer reported it in the New Yorker, famously.  The Kochs, or anyone with a couple of $M laying around, can figure it out, too.

      For a could mill, you can flip any Dem house or senate and have money for breakfast the day after the election.

      State Dems better have a plan.  This could be the biggest issue Dems face over the next several election cycles.

      Hope I'm wrong.

  •  NC (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FishOutofWater, Naniboujou

    Was progressive for a Southern state.  Now we will have a Repub state house and senate and a Repub Governor.  The Dems ran an uninspiring candidate for Governor.  Many voted for Gov elect Pat McRorie remembering him as the moderate mayor of Charlotte who pushed for, and got it's first light rail line.  Well he's bringing in RWNJs for his transition team and his appointees.  ALEC here we come!  

    Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it and then misapplying the wrong remedies. ~ Groucho Marx

    by Chowzoi on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 07:54:43 PM PST

  •  Well Duh! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Algernons Labyrinth

    Let's hope this site and the party leadership finally form a plan to counter this Republican strategy that has been all too successful since 2010.

    Even Democrats can be asses. Look at Rahm Emanuel.

    by Helpless on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 08:03:19 PM PST

  •  Republicans care about state and local (5+ / 0-)

    Democrats don't.

    That needs to change.

    We really need to focus resources on Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, NC and Florida.

    We won most of these big swing states at the presidential level, but we're getting killed below the top line.  There is no reason swing states like these should have such radically rightwing state governments, other than Democratic inertia and Republican money.  

    R control is also dangerous for us at the national level, because of the influence that state leaders have on national elections.

    We need to make majority control of state legislatures a priority, like the R's have done for the last two decades.

    •  Amen to that! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shanesnana, blueoasis

      we're screwed in very blue PA. Because our government is in some little burg in the middle of the state where the media pays no attention to it, our Republican governor smartly keeps his mouth closed and looks cherubic while gutting the Programs for the poor, and the voters have no idea who runs state government, how it is run and how much impact it has on their lives.  The Republican-controlled legislature is intent on ALEC's agenda, voter suppression and gerrymandering.
      One quick example -- the gov, Tom Corbett, laid off most of the state workers whose job it was to process unemployment benefits (generously allowing those workers to process their own applications before walKing out the door.) Now we have people eligible for UI for more than six months still trying to sign up to get the benefits. Can't get through on the phone, can't get though online. Our major newspapers try to keep us informed but TV news is AWOL.

      Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please -- Mark Twain

      by OnePingOnly on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 08:54:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's the Democratic Party that is (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis

      becoming the Whigs, not the Republicans, as so many want(ed) to believe in 2008. The Whigs did/could not stir up enthusiasm at any level below that of federal, and only during Presidential years did they really flex their muscles at all. Sound familiar?

      "Lone catch of the moon, the roots of the sigh of an idea there will be the outcome may be why?"--from a spam diary entitled "The Vast World."

      by bryduck on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 08:27:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The GOP SuperPAC's aren't genius yet (0+ / 0-)

    Once they start going after the county level precinct by precinct rather than carpet bombing at the state level thats when Democrats are in trouble. Maybe a dozen counties that decide the presidency, $25M a pop is nothing!

  •  Just Tell Me What to Do, please! (0+ / 0-)

    Does Daily Kos have a plan?

  •  This is where it gets tough... (0+ / 0-)

    Some might say the attention in 2012 turned back the Citizens United onslaught that flipped the House in 2010. But this will be absent in the down ticket races coming up in off year elections. Read about how the decision is coming to a local race near you...

    http://www.opednews.com/...

  •  We need to banish the word "right" in association (0+ / 0-)

    with abusive, punitive, authoritarian instincts. Republicans are royalists. They like kings and queens, not just for the pomp and circumstance that goes with such titles, but because they like some person or persons to be designated with all power and responsibility.  By investing authorities with responsibility, individuals can effectively deny their own. That's what makes authoritarianism a good sell. But, the word is too long and too complex to understand, so the euphemism "right" has caught on.  But, it is wrong. There is no respect for human rights in the authoritarian mind. Authoritarians are about abuse. That's the beginning and the end of it. Because, just the perception of a human as a tool is abusive. Never mind actually putting him/her to use. Human husbandry, for example, is abusive, even though the ultimate destruction is delayed, or perhaps left to Mother Nature, as in the medicated state of elder care.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 02:29:14 AM PST

  •  Worked hard for a very good candidate (0+ / 0-)

    In Very Red Northern Michigan, McDowell was strong and destined to boot idiot Tea Bagger Benishek out of office, until a rush of Koch money at the last minute flooded east out of Wisconsin and he lost by a few hundred votes. Real shame!

    But even greater shame is on the tens of thousands of folks who didn't bother to vote in '10. It's the gerrymandering that kept Boehner in his corner office. Even this small example was the result of that. I ran into an organizer who had a list of retired union folks in Northern Michigan who didn't vote (and of course some voted GOP) then. Ya see where that got them!

    The only good thing I can get out of it is that it cost the money boys BIG TIME to keep what they kept, so let's cost them a lot more.

  •  Spot on (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shanesnana

    We were all so focused on re-electing the President (or at least preventing Romney from getting it) that we tended to ignore the state and congressional races.

    This must not happen.  Those who coordinate such things need to focus like a laser on 2014, to reverse 2010 and to prevent it from getting worse.

    These assholes never sleep.  They might even succeed, in the states they now control, in changing the allocation of electoral votes in presidential elections to follow the same ridiculously gerrymandered maps they imposed on the Congressional seats.  Such moves threaten at worst to lock the government under minority GOP control for a generation or more.

    We have to take this seriously.  This kind of under-the-radar activity is the worst effect of unregulated money in politics.  We can't be lulled into a false sense of security by the Obama victory in 2012.  His coattails weren't long enough to dislodge the obstructionists.

    sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

    by stivo on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 05:01:56 AM PST

  •  Tom DeLay was caught for a similar scheme (0+ / 0-)

    "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."

    Is there any chance to prosecute this scam?

    There's no such thing as a free market!

    by Albanius on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 09:54:19 AM PST

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