If another reason is needed for a massive multi-billion-dollar infusion into public financing of campaigns for congressional races, let alone the presidential race, look no further than Monday’s front-pager at The New York Times.
The Times‘ Raymond Hernandez reports that the Republican Party is drafting wealthy candidates to run for federal offices because of the enormous disparity in fundraising between Democrats and Republicans.
At this point, strategists for the National Republican Congressional Committee have enlisted wealthy candidates to run in at least a dozen competitive Congressional districts nationwide, particularly those where Democrats are finishing their first term and are thus considered most vulnerable. They say more are on the way.
These wealthy Republicans have each already invested $100,000 to $1 million of their own money to finance their campaigns, according to campaign finance disclosure reports and interviews with party strategists. Experts say that is a large amount for this early in the cycle.
I’ve argued that billions of dollars should be invested from general taxation into public campaign financing. That’s to allow the public to outbid corporate and special interests and free politicians to actually govern instead of chase fundraising dollars.
The most recent figures show that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has raised $56.6 million and has $29.2 million at its disposal. By contrast, the National Republican Congressional Committee has raised $40.7 million with a cash balance of $2.5 million.
That is a striking turnabout for the Republicans, who have outraised the Democrats by considerable margins for years. As recently as 2006, the Republican Congressional campaign committee raised $40 million more than its Democratic counterpart, $179.5 million to $139.9 million.
This makes a critical appraisal of the woeful state of public campaign financing all the more important.
Now, it appears, Democratic, Progressive, Independent, Green and other third-party candidates will now have to outbid the wealth of Republican candidates as well as the GOP’s corporate and special-interest backers.
This is not a healthy development for those who selflessly seek to create a government that effectively functions on the behalf of the governed rather than increase the divide between the haves and the have-nots.