Reading beneath the horse-race stats in the new polls yesterday, I noticed an incredible unanimity of opinion on campaign finance reform and Wall Street regulation. The CBS/You Gov polls in Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina and Pennsylvania all show tremendous support for seeing the new president and Congress deal with both issues. In Republican Arizona 77% of respondents want action on campaign finance reform and 74% want action of new regulations for Wall Street. Among Colorado voters, the numbers are 76% for campaign finance reform and 71% on Wall Street. 77% of North Carolina voters want action on campaign finance reform and 72% want it on Wall Street regulations. Bluer Pennsylvania is the most gung-ho on campaign finance reform– 79%– and 74% want more regulations on the banksters.
Now let's focus on the congressional race that has– more than any other in the country– focused on those two issues in laser-like fashion. In New York's 19th congressional district– the central Hudson Valley and the Catskills, where the only moderate Republican left in Congress, Chris Gibson, is retiring– campaign finance reform expert Zephyr Teachout faces off against John Faso, a slimeball lobbyist propped up by a bevy of modern day robber barons and hedge fund crooks. In fact, over the weekend, James Nani from the Times Herald-Record pointed out that more outside money is pouring into NY-19 than in almost any other House race in the country. The predators and crooks don't just want to elect a shady little puppet like Faso, they're willing to spend millions to keep Teachout out of office. She scares them the exact same way Elizabeth Warren scares them. She's incorruptible and focused on the public good– the opposite of what the plutocrats expect from “democracy.” As of Oct 13, wrote Nani, $13 million dollars had flooded into the race– $7.8 million of it from SuperPACs. This chart shows outside spending so far:
Notice that Paul Ryan's Congressional Leadership Fund has spent over $3 million smearing Zephyr, a number bolstered by the NRCC with another $1.3 million, while the DCCC has responded with an ineffective $1 million in total. The DCCC is too busy spending money on grotesque New Dems and Blue Dogs– the Republican wing of the Democratic Party– to give Zephyr the kind of help she needs. Pelosi's House Majority PAC has made it's biggest investments on inconsequential right-wing Blue Dogs like Kim Myers ($2,023,202) and Josh Gottheimer (1,622,340) will contributing exactly ZERO towards Zephyr. Gee, and I'm old enough to remember when Nancy Pelosi made a substantial effort to portray herself as a real progressive… and when she was a little more, um, clear-minded.
Increasing the stakes are polls that have shown that the race between Teachout, a Fordham University law school professor, and Faso, a former state Assembly minority leader, is neck-and-neck. Cook Political Report, an online political newsletter, is calling the race a toss-up.
Recent polling has given Faso a one-point edge. Voter rolls as of April showed Democrats with an enrollment edge of about 2,300 people.
With that competitiveness, the cash has flowed. An analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics shows that the 19th District ranks seventh in the nation in outside spending raised in all House races. The district ranks ninth in outside money actually doled out.
…Through the bruising Republican primary, Faso was helped along by the New York Wins PAC, which received $1.15 million from just four super-wealthy donors. They included billionaire New York City hedge fund founder Paul Singer, who gave $600,000, and reclusive Long Island hedge fund manager Robert Mercer, who gave $500,000.
That spending allowed Faso to preserve much of his campaign cash for the general election.
A heavyweight in outside spending in the race has been the Congressional Leadership Fund, which dedicated more than $3 million to oppose Teachout, more than Faso's campaign has raised this whole election cycle. The Washington D.C.-based super PAC, which is dedicated to promoting Republicans, is spending more than $300,000 to canvas the district, with representatives ringing doorbells and telling residents about Teachout's connections to New York City.
The race has also seen big spending by more conventional PACs. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has shelled out more than $1.3 million to oppose Faso. Its partisan counterpart, the National Republican Campaign Committee, has spent about the same amount to oppose Teachout.
Aside from the DCCC, Teachout's biggest outside supporter has been End Citizens United, a PAC dedicated to overturning the U.S. Supreme Court decision that allows for unlimited outside spending in elections. It's spent about $422,000 to oppose Faso.
In all, outside spending that's benefited Faso has reached $5.5 million, dwarfing the $1.98 million benefitting Teachout.
“Teachout has borne the brunt of it – the Congressional Leadership Fund, which is tied to the House leadership, has spent $3.1 million attacking her, its biggest investment in any race,” Novak said.
Though outside money has overshadowed the race, candidates have raised substantial sums as well.
Faso brought in about $2.3 million since he kicked off his campaign in July 2015, and has spent about $2 million as of Sept. 30. About $1.9 million, or 84 percent of that, has come from individual contributions, and about $328,000, or 14 percent, has come from political action committees.
Faso said that money his campaign has raised has largely come from the district or within New York. Center for Responsive Politics data shows that about 81 percent of his cash came from New York and 21 percent came from the 19th District. About 60 percent of Teachout's campaign cash came from New York, and 12 percent from the district.
“I have much more local support,” Faso said, adding that he said he can't control what outside entities spend.
But Alexis Grenell, a spokeswoman for Teachout, said the average contribution to Teachout's campaign has been $19, and that she has the highest number of small contributions of any congressional candidate. About 63 percent of Teachout's cash has come from small donors, according to Crowdpac, a political data company. Grenell said Teachout is an “independent fighter” who will put “people before powerful interests.”
“Her campaign is all about raising up the voices of people throughout the district,” Grenell said.
Teachout has outraised Faso, collecting about $3.3 million since January this year. About $3 million has come from individual contributions and about $242,000 from PACs. Teachout's funding has also piggybacked off the funding infrastructure of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has been sending out fundraising emails on Teachout's behalf for months.
Combined, the race for the 19th has become a $13.1 million barnburner.
With a little more than a week until the election, Novak said spending may not be over yet.
“If the polls show things are close, I wouldn't be surprised to see a gusher of further outside spending on both sides between now and Election Day,” Novak said.
As of Sunday morning, hundreds of Blue America members had contributed $15,463.94 to Zephyr's campaign. There's always a chance Pelosi will snap out of her delusion about Blue Dogs and start helping Zephyr, but I just made another personal contribution to Zephyr's campaign today. If you can, please do the same… because if we've learned one thing over the last 3 or 4 years, it's that counting on Nancy Pelosi is a death knell for progressive politics America– and we need leaders like Zephyr Teachout, Pramila Jayapal, Payl Clements, Ruben Kihuen, Tom Wakely, to pick up the ball that Pelosi dropped when she threw her lot in with careerist crooks like Rahm Emanuel, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Joe Crowley. Please tap the thermometer below and give what you can to Zephyr Teachout while it can still make a difference. Thanks.
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis