Democrats have already dealt a scare to Republican incumbents with a heavy dose of prodigious fundraising ahead of the fall campaign. But three long shots in particular have burst onto the scene as financial juggernauts.
In Texas, Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) has hooked his fundraising engine onto the liberal loathing of Sen. Ted Cruz (R). In Wisconsin, Randy Bryce, an iron worker, has tapped into the left’s venom for House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R). And in California, Andrew Janz went from being an obscure local prosecutor to liberal hero challenging Rep. Devin Nunes (R), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
All three Democrats began their campaigns last year among the longest of long shots to knock off these well-entrenched Republicans — yet donors don’t really care. Liberal activists want Democratic majorities on Capitol Hill, but they also want trophy seats, to defeat major symbols of the GOP movement in the age of President Trump.
Also known as scalps. Cruz, as the story points out, is widely loathed (and not just on the Left; if there’s a major upset this year, it could well be the Senate’s least-popular member); Ryan is the speaker of the House; and Nunes rocketed to Public Enemy No. 1 status via his leadership of the House Intelligence Committee.
This is part of a broader trend in which Democrats are swamping Republicans so far this election season. A Politico analysis found that, in the last quarter of 2017, more than 40 House Republicans raised less money than one of their Democratic challengers. Overall for 2017, according to the FEC, all Democratic candidates for the House raised $63 million more than their GOP counterparts, a reversal from the 2016 campaign, when Republicans raised nearly $85 million more.
Senate Democrats are also raising money at record clips. Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) announced Friday that he had more than $10 million cash on hand, the most any Pennsylvania Senate candidate has held at this stage of a campaign. But money is not enough for longer-shot candidates such as O’Rourke, Bryce and Janz.
When running against an opponent who is reviled by the other side, a smart campaign can raise enormous amounts of money. But money usually cannot overcome a candidate who is out of step ideologically with the state’s voters.
Rich Democrats like to channel their anger and frustration by throwing money at the object of their ire. Normally, they do this with taxpayer monies, but elections are person, and they are loaded for bear. But even in politics, money can help buy you name recognition but it can’t buy you love.