On Monday I was on a Zoom call with a dozen progressive candidates, some of whom had won their primaries and some of whom had lost. Three extraordinarily good candidates who spoke at length all lost because of immense amounts of outside spending deployed against them through the virulently anti-progressive auspices of Team Hakeem: primarily by AIPAC, Democratic Majority for Israel and free-spending conservative crypto-billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried.
Hakeem Jeffries’ test case was Nina Turner. Mark Mellman, one of his closest allies and one of the quarterbacks working to make him Democratic Leader, spent $3,082,699 through DMFI, another $282,048 through AIPAC’s shady United Democracy Project-- best known for laundering GOP money into Democratic primaries-- and another $1,010,178 via the crypto-billionaire’s Protect Our Future PAC. Third Way kicked in a little over half a million. The conservative Mainstream Democrats PAC spent another $151,585 against Nina (including money from DMFI). In all something like $5 million was spent by corrupt conservative groups, coordinated by Hakeem Jeffries, to defeat Nina Turner.
Another former candidate on the call was Alan Grayson who watched as the crypto-billionaire poured about a million dollars into the campaign of Maxwell Frost, the eventual winner. Similarly saw about $750,000 come in from DMFI and the crypto-billionaire against him. Progressive candidates running grassroots campaigns can rarely stand up to this kind of massive, concentrated spending by Dark Money groups.
Yesterday, Decision Desk’s Derek Willis decided to take a look at the races that were have attracted the most outside spending so far. So far the first 11 days of the month have seen $24.3 million reported in House races alone. (Keep in mind that many of the worst villains do not report spending on time.) Of the $24 million, $20 million was for negative ads, often smearing the opponents’ of the candidates they were trying to get elected.
The biggest spending were by the Republican PAC run by the NRA and the Democratic operation Climate Power Action, which has started running ads like this one they did for Matt Cartwright, an embattled progressive in northeast Pennsylvania.
The list of House races that have seen general election spending in early September is topped by Michigan’s 7th District, where Democrat Elissa Slotkin faces Republican Tom Barrett. At least seven different committees have put $2.1 million into that race so far this month. Barrett has had nearly $1 million spent against him this month. There are another 19 races that have seen at least $500,000 in outside spending in the first 11 days of September.
All of the House races that have attracted at least $500,000 in outside spending in early September are rated as tossups or leaning toward one party, with the exception of Arizona’s 2nd District, where Democratic incumbent Tom O’Halleran faces an uphill battle to defend what has become a more conservative seat. Elections Daily rates that race as Likely Republican. The National Republican Congressional Committee spent $910,000 on ads opposing O’Halleran last week.
One race that jumped out at me was Connecticut’s 5th District, currently represented by Democrat Jahana Hayes, who is being challenged by former state senator George Logan. Hayes has won her previous two elections by double-digit margins but forecasters, including Elections Daily, have rated this race more competitive this year at “Leans Democratic.” At the end of June, Logan had raised about a third of what Hayes had, so recent ads from the Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC have helped to boost his visibility in a district where it’s expensive to run television ads.
Five different PACs have put money this month into Pennsylvania’s 8th District race, a rematch from 2020 between Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright and Republican Jim Bognet. Lining up for Cartwright are Climate Power Action, the Service Employees International Union and House Majority PAC, while the CLF and House Freedom Fund, aligned with the conservative House Freedom Caucus, have spent money on Bognet's behalf. The two campaigns are trying to line up a media partner for a televised debate.
The Congressional Leadership Fund has reported at least $11 million in spending during September so far, with much more certain to come, while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and House Majority PAC have already spent a combined $6.1 million. The National Republican Congressional Committee has reported spending $2.4 million so far this month. Although there are still some single-race super PACs out there, the fall is much more of a game for larger organizations with massive resources, whether aligned with parties, associations or unions.
Right now, Blue America’s IE committee is spending money on Facebook and Instagram ads for San Bernardino progressive Derek Marshall. You can watch one of the ads here and you can also contribute to the Blue America IE Committee on that same page.