Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The GOP Death List

The Republican party has a "death list" that ranks all the house and senate races in order by how likely they are to lose the race. Among Republican incumbents, Dave Reichert is number 12 on that list, as of October 23rd.

The list makes for some interesting reading, but as far as I can tell, the only thing Reichert has going for him compared to the other candidates on the list is money: he's got more than most. They've got him listed with almost 1.2 million in cash-on-hand, compared to Darcy Burner's $770,000.

It brings to mind a question. Should it all come down to money? Should the selection of our district's representative come down to who has more cash? Or should the quality of the candidates somehow also factor into it?

I think the candidates themselves ought to matter. We shouldn't just elect whoever can afford to sling more mud than the other. But, since the GOP's so-called "death list" seems to place such stock in money, let's talk about money for a minute. Because it's not like Dave Reichert has really earned his.

Reichert is a notoriously anemic fund-raiser. Let's face it, he's kind of "Mr. Invisible". It's not like I ever see him in the news or hear about anything he does in Congress, unless it's election season. Dave Reichert seems to have made a career, short though it has been, of flying under the news-cycle radar. He just doesn't do anything that's worthy of talking about. As such it's little wonder that he has trouble attracting a broad donor base.

Consequently, the Republican Party keeps having to bail him out. They recently gave him 1.1 million dollars in late-cycle funding, a figure suspiciously close to his reported cash-on-hand. And just last week we learned that our local television stations have effectively donated five hundred thousand dollars worth of advertizing to him, which hasn't been paid for (a sufficiently egregious and blatant violation of FEC regulations that the Burner campaign has filed a formal complaint over the matter).

Without his friends in high places, Reichert's campaign would be broke. But with friends like those, always willing to pay to keep their reliable rubber-stamp vote in the Congress, I guess Dave Reichert doesn't really need to waste his precious time fund-raising.

Burner's campaign, on the other hand, has done amazingly well in raising campaign cash from the grassroots. Which is just a fancy way of saying "from people who are sick and tired of Dave's brand of "representation without representation," as it were. Her most recent quarterly FEC filings show that she has raised a total of 3.1 million dollars in this election cycle, compared to Reichert's 2.01 million.

So overall it's an expensive race, and what Reichert can't manage to raise himself, his RNC and media buddies will chip in for him (and if somebody explain to me how that fits with the old canard that the country is supposedly being ruined by the "liberal media", I'll be much obliged).

What is interesting is the difference in each candidate's small-dollar donations. According to the Seattle Times, $938,000 of Burner's money comes from individual small donations (those at or under the FEC's definition of "small" as $250). The Burner campaign is citing a median donation amount of $50, and the article reports that Darcy Burner has 2742 individuals on its donor rolls. Reichert, by contrast, has raised a truly pathetic $141,000 in small-dollar donations, and has just 1283 donors on its rolls.

Darcy Burner has raised over 6.6 times as much money from ordinary people than has Dave Reichert.

That pretty much tells you all you need to know about where her support comes from, where Reichert's comes from, and who each person would be beholden to if elected.

Burner's support comes from the very same people that her economic plan would benefit to the tune of $4000 per year (hint: the plan's title is "Putting the Middle Class First").

Reichert's support comes from people whose taxes actually would go up under Senator Obama's plan (hint: it ain't Joe the Plumber).

That's the difference between a populist candidate and an elitist candidate. I'll take the populist every single time.


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