Tags: GOP2016 | citizens united | campaign | spending | gop | primaries

As Millions Pour Into GOP Candidates' Coffers, Worries Mount

As Millions Pour Into GOP Candidates' Coffers, Worries Mount
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By    |   Wednesday, 15 July 2015 09:05 AM

Concerns are mounting that Citizens United, the ruling that opened the floodgates to unlimited spending in campaigns, could distort the presidential race by giving a lifeline to second- and third-tier candidates at the expense of front-runners.

According to Politico, the ruling is expected to make the 2016 primary longer, more expensive, and potentially more divisive as more candidates continue to duke it out, potentially hurting the Republican Party's chances of retaking the White House.

"A super PAC for a broadly successful candidate makes them doubly formidable. A super PAC for a marginal candidate keeps them alive. And that's what's different now," former President George W. Bush's press secretary Ari Fleischer told Politico.

To date, roughly $86 million has been raised by big-money groups to support candidates who aren't ranking on top of the polls, such as Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey and John Kasich of Ohio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, and former Govs. Rick Perry of Texas and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, Politico said.

In some cases, big money has come from individual donors who believe it's a way to enable their candidate's platform to be represented when those candidates might otherwise have been buried by better-funded competitors.

"No one is going to be able to raise as much as Jeb Bush, but what we have is going to help Gov. Perry compete. Competition is a good thing. The more people in the process, the better," said Jordan Russell, a spokesman for a trio of pro-Perry super PACs that have collectively raised nearly $17 million.

Big-money outside groups supporting Fiorina, Kasich, Perry and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal have spent roughly $1.4 million this month on ads in Iowa and New Hampshire in the hopes of building the candidates' profiles in those early primary states and in securing a top-ten spot in the polls to enable them to qualify for the debates.

Cruz, meanwhile, may rely on outside money to help him focus on a long-term strategy to stay in the race, Politico said.

The fundraising landscape will become more clear at the end of July when super PACs have to file their disclosures with the FEC.

"The super PAC era is going to make it harder to sort out the race, and particularly for the Republicans, who have so many candidates to begin with, it just keeps the clutter going," Fleischer said.

An analysis of the 2012 election by the Republican National Committee also flagged  concerns about the impact of big money on primaries, saying, "Super PAC money is a wild card that weakens our eventual nominee, regardless of who he or she is, due to the onslaught of negative ads against that candidate."

But some see the advent of big spending as an asset in creating a competitive primary and a level playing field.

"I want every candidate in this race to have an opportunity to sell their ideas, or lack thereof, to Republican primary voters, whether it's Chris Christie and John Kasich, or whether it's Ted Cruz and Ben Carson and Donald Trump," said David Bossie, president of Citizens United.

"At the end of the day, the American people vote for candidates based upon who has better ideas, not more money."

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Concerns are mounting that Citizens United, the Supreme Court ruling that opened the floodgates to unlimited spending in campaigns, could distort the presidential race by giving a lifeline to second- and third-tier candidates at the expense of front-runners.
citizens united, campaign, spending, gop, primaries
540
2015-05-15
Wednesday, 15 July 2015 09:05 AM
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