Democrats are trying hard to match Republicans’ success with super PACs. But the Democrats are experiencing a rather fundamental problem: deep-pocketed party activists aren’t giving their outside groups much money, Politico
As a result, Democrats are lagging behind Republicans in fundraising for next year’s elections, and many liberals are worried that President Barack Obama will be toast if the gap continues.
The fat cats are staying away for a variety of reasons. Some remember 2004, when a huge outside spending binge failed to bring down then-President George W. Bush. Obama’s own early criticism of outside money has put off some. And others are worried that their money will go to support moderate rather than liberal candidates.
Democrats are late to the party. Karl Rove-linked Crossroads groups played a major role in 2010 elections, and they aim to take in $240 million this time around.
“This is new for Democrats,” Bill Burton, a former Obama aide who helped form the new super PAC Priorities USA, told Politico. “Democrats really haven’t tried a comprehensive set of outside groups to answer what the right is doing. And in the last presidential cycle, there was very little outside activity at all.”
Priorities USA has a fundraising target of $100 million for next year’s election, but it garnered only $5.2 million in the first half of the year.
Leo Hindery, a New York investor who has contributed more than $2.8 million to Democratic candidates and groups, told Politico that many of his fellow donors are concerned about supporting moderates.
“There is a discontent brewing with both the super PACs and the party committees because there are donors who don’t want their money going to help the likes of a [Nebraska Sen.] Ben Nelson, who can’t even vote to extend unemployment benefits, or some of the Blue Dogs,” he said. “But in principal, I dislike the super PACs more than I dislike the committees, as I hate seeing either party playing the so-called PAC game.”
A few wealthy Democrats have donated to Super PACs, including Hollywood heavyweights Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steve Bing. But the party will continue to lag behind until bigwigs such as investor George Soros and insurance mogul Peter Lewis step up to the plate beyond the $275,000 they’ve given to super PACs so far this year.
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