“The bad news for democrats is that they may well come out of this election doing well on a case-by-case basis but not really resolving their identity crisis.” — Alexander Burns, NY Times
The Daily (6/1/18)
Alarm over the election of Donald Trump spurred dozens of first-time candidates to run for Congress. Some of those candidates now present a problem for the Democratic Party. Guests: Mai Khanh Tran, a Democratic candidate running for the United States House in California; Alexander Burns, who covers national politics for The New York Times.
New York Congressional Candidate Challenges State Democratic Party With Powerful Progressive Campaign Ad
“This race is about people versus money. We’ve got people, they’ve got money. It’s time to ackowlege not all democrats are the same. A democrat takes corporate money, who profits off foreclosure, doesn’t live here, doesn’t send his kids to our schools, doesn’t drink our water or breathe our air, cannot possibly represent us.”
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democratic primary challenger for New York’s 14th District.
Wealthy Democrats Have Spent $16 Million Of Their Own Money On Three California House Races
By David Dayen
The Intercept (6/1/18)
HERBERT LEE IS a gastroenterologist with practices in Irvine and Rowland Heights, California. Sometime in 2018 — it’s not clear when — Dr. Lee decided that he wanted to become Rep. Lee. He built a website and filed as a Democratic candidate in the 39th Congressional District, where Hillary Clinton’s success in 2016 and the retirement of incumbent Republican Ed Royce created a prime pickup opportunity for the Democrats’ House takeover plans.
That was about all we heard from Lee until last week. He appeared at no candidate forums and received no endorsements. His calendar of events is blank. His Twitter account has 18 followers and contains five tweets, four of them from April 4. Messages to his campaign were not returned.
The rules of campaign finance favor the superwealthy, drawing in inexperienced millionaires cheered on by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to shoulder the mega-spending it takes to win congressional seats. And self-funded candidates happen to be bad at elections.
Lee did have one thing that makes people pay attention in politics, however: a checkbook. Out of nowhere, Lee filed with the Federal Election Commission in the final reporting period before the June 5 primary that he had raised $752,146.84 — all from himself. That brought his total self-funded receipts to $800,000, and he blew through $627,642.19 of that from April 1 to May 16. According to FEC disbursement disclosures, Lee bought freeway billboards, placed ads in Spanish- and Chinese-language newspapers, went on the radio and cable TV, and dropped $535,784 on campaign mailer materials, data for district voters, and postage.
Helping the Republicans
The presence of an obscure, free-spending candidate on nobody’s radar could upset a delicate situation in the 39th, amid California’s unique top-two primary system. All candidates appear on voters’ primary ballots, and adding another candidate into the mix — the fourth to spend at least $730,000 of their own money on the race — could fragment the Democratic vote, allowing two Republicans to advance to the general election.
Lee’s story is an extreme version of what Democrats are seeing in the three southern California races where they risk being locked out of a chance in November — the 39th, the 48th, and the 49th Congressional Districts. All three races have been dominated on the Democratic side by first-time, self-funded candidates, who are throwing scads of cash into the waiting arms of consultants and media planners.
The numbers are extreme and unusual, even by the standards of a campaign finance system biased toward the wealthy. …