Conservative groups have figured out how to utilize the new campaign finance rules to their advantage, as demonstrated by the shellacking Republicans put on Democrats in the 2010 election.
But organized labor is lagging behind, Politico reports.
And that’s a bad omen for Democrats in the run-up to next year’s elections.
The changed landscape stems from two court decisions. In the 2010 Citizens United case, the Supreme Court authorized companies and labor groups to pay for ads opposing or supporting candidates with their general funds.
Meanwhile, a lower court decision allowed the formation of super PACs, which can garner unlimited monetary sums but can’t plan directly with candidates.
The unions are still trying to figure out their spending strategies and seem to lack solid fundraising goals in this new environment. Indeed, many don’t plan any changes, despite Democrats’ blowout losses in 2010. Unions are donating to Democratic super PACs but still haven’t decided whether to launch their own.
All this makes it highly unlikely that unions will be able to act as a strong opposing force to all the corporate groups bringing home the bacon for Republicans as part of the 2012 election campaign.
Comments from union officials won’t be reassuring to Democrats.
“Overall, we haven’t really figured out exactly what we’re going to be doing in terms of the amounts or even some of the vehicles out there,” Ricky Feller, associate political director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, one of the biggest campaign-spending unions, told Politico.
Brandon Davis, political director at the Service Employees International Union, said, “It’s not really part of the discussion.”
Some Democratic operatives don’t’ expect any progress soon.
“Labor’s not the most nimble group of organizations out there,” a Democratic strategist who has raised money from labor groups told Politico. “They can experiment, but it tends to take a couple of cycles for things to change.”
Steve Rosenthal, a veteran labor political strategist said, “Unions will never be able to compete with the bottomless well on the other side.”
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