Original Link: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0612/78037.html
By ROBIN BRAVENDER
Conservative megadonors Sheldon Adelson, the Koch brothers and Donald Trump
aren’t stopping with their efforts to swing the presidential election. Now,
they’re shoveling cash into down-ticket races.
Their big checks have helped state-focused GOP groups more than double the
cash haul of their Democratic counterparts and open up another front that could
help Mitt Romney beat President Barack Obama.
POLITICO: Adelson pledges $10M to Koch effort)
Many of the hottest gubernatorial races are in key presidential election
states, including North Carolina, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and
Wisconsin and the increased activity could and attention to conservative
policies on critical issues like government spending, labor rights, voter
access, gay rights and immigration could help tip the scales in Romney’s favor.
Negative ads against the Democrats won’t hurt either.
“I think that you’ll see amazingly the same swing counties and swing
precincts that will determine the outcome of the presidential race will also be
determining the outcome of state legislative races — whether it’s suburban
Columbus, Ohio, or the Orlando area in Florida,” said Chris Jankowski, president
of the Republican State Leadership Committee.
Big conservative donors see the down ticket races as a wise investment.
Billionaire industrialist David Koch and Koch Industries — the
multinational firm he runs with his brother Charles — have given more than $2
million to the Republican Governors Association this year, making them the
group’s top donor, according to federal filings and the Center for Responsive
Politics. Koch Industries has also donated more than $125,000 to the Republican
State Leadership Committee this cycle.
Adelson has donated $1
million this cycle to the RGA and $150,000 to the RSLC.
Republican money men)
Bob Perry — a Houston construction magnate and top donor to the Karl
Rove-backed super PAC American Crossroads and the pro-Romney super PAC Restore
Our Future — gave $750,000 to the RGA so far this cycle.
Trump donated $100,000 to
the RGA earlier this year.
“They’re investing in the RGA for the same reason they’re investing in the
Romney super PAC or the Koch effort, and that’s because they are really
fundamentally concerned about the future of the country and they see Republican
governors taking on the tough challenges at the state level,” said Phil Cox,
executive director of the RGA .
It’s a repeat performance for many of the groups’ big donors, who have poured
cash into state-focused groups for years. Perry, for example, donated $8 million
to the RGA in the 2010 cycle; Adelson and David Koch each donated $1 million
during that cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
“More and more, it is governors who are forced to lead our country to
prosperity largely because the federal government is struggling to fix what is
broken in America,” said Perry spokesman Anthony Holm.
POLITICO: GOP groups plan $1 billion blitz)
The RGA has raised more than $57 million thus far this cycle, more than twice
what the $26 million the Democratic Governors Association had brought in by
mid-April, when the most recent reports were filed.
The Republican State Leadership Committee, which participates in state races
beyond legislative seats, has raised more than $17 million — more than triple
the $5 million take of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.
Cox said his group is planning to replicate its efforts that helped prop up
GOP Gov. Scott Walker in the contentious Wisconsin recall.
“We put $1.5 million into get-out-the-vote efforts and it worked,” he said.
“We’re going to be able to do that in states like New Hampshire, North Carolina
and Missouri and others that are traditional battleground states and that are
going to be important to the presidential race.”
By bolstering state-level candidates, Republican donors are also helping to
cultivate rising GOP stars in the governor ranks. Party up-and-comers like
Walker, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, New Jersey
Gov. Chris Christie and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal have all benefited from the
support of the RGA as they’ve rocketed to national fame.
The RGA is going after four seats left open by retiring Democratic governors
in Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Washington. Only one Republican
governor is retiring this year — Mitch Daniels in Indiana. Sitting Democratic
governors in Missouri and West Virginia are facing re-election, as are GOP
incumbents in North Dakota and Utah, who are both considered safe.
In 2010, the GOP picked up six governor’s mansions and 21 legislative
chambers, and Jankowski said he expects Republicans to have a
net gain of about four or five chambers across the country.
The RSLC will spend in about 40 states, but will focus as much as 75 percent
of that money on 12-15 key states, Jankowski said. Among the biggest battles:
defending chambers in New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio and winning back
the Wisconsin state Senate.
Unlike the GOP, Democrats haven’t brought in the same kind of cash from party
megadonors; they count on corporations and unions for much of their cash.
“While we would like to have raised the same amount of money as the RGA, the
RGA I believe is becoming a super PAC with high net worth individuals giving a
million dollars. We don’t have that,” said DGA Executive Director Colm
Pfizer has been the top contributor to the DGA this cycle, donating $435,000.
The Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of State
County and Municipal Employees have given $325,000 and $300,000
The three biggest donors to the DLCC this cycle are AFSCME, the International
Brotherhood of Teamsters and the National Education Association.
Like the super PACs that have flooded cash into federal races this year,
groups like the RGA and DGA can accept unlimited cash from donors that can pay
for advertisements, polling, direct mail and other expenses.
Democrats insist that they can make gains even when they’re getting outspent,
and they don’t see it as their role to woo big donors with promises of securing
the White House.
“Some of their donors just seem to be using the gubernatorial elections as a
way to play in presidential politics, which is just not what we believe our
mission is as an organization” O’Comartun said. “Over the years, this disparity
has always existed and we believe that we are just as effective and we have
spent our money in a smarter way. Over a lot of the races, it has not panned out
that they have actually outspent us two-to-one in the races that matter.”
DLCC spokesman Dan Roth said Democrats will likely pick up eight or nine
chambers this fall. Among Democrats’ top targets for flipping: chambers in
Arizona, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota and Oregon.