USA Today reported in 2012:
Total spending on the presidential and congressional races this year is on pace to reach a record $5.8 billion, according to a new analysis.
The non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics estimates the total cost of the 2012 elections will jump 7% from $5.4 billion four years ago and could “come close” this year to reaching $6 billion.
As a result, the ability to aggressively fundraise is evermore invaluable to a statewide campaign.
Celebrity solves these problems. Celebrity opens doors. Not only do people know who Ashley Judd is. They are excited to meet her. Wallets eagerly open for the opportunity to say, “I had dinner with Ashley Judd.” What’s more, her celebrity brings along established relationships with deep pockets. It makes for a much easier campaign than trying to convince strangers to write checks for someone they’ve never heard of.
That may be why the notion of a celebrity candidate is not new. Like Judd, Ronald Reagan came to politics from acting in film. So did Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has also bared his goods on the silver screen. His Predator co-star, Jesse Ventura, ran a successful third party campaign for governor of Minnesota. The venerable Fred Thompson of Law & Order fame has served in the U.S. Senate and was among candidates vying for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.
As an example most relevant to Judd’s candidacy, we must consider the sitting senator from Minnesota, former Saturday Night Live comic Al Franken. If past performance proves enough to disqualify a candidate from public office, one might have imagined that the Daily Affirmation with Stuart Smalley would do the trick. Yet Franken prevailed in his 2008 recount and must now be taken seriously as a representative of his state, not to mention the sixtieth vote which enabled the passage of Obamacare. Is the nudity in Judd’s film career a greater liability than having played Stuart Smalley?