posted on July 19, 2012 12:00
The Democrats’ treasure chest has vanished. Year after year in elections, Democrats like Jim Hunt and Marc Basnight had war chests brimming with cash. Bev Perdue defeated Pat McCrory last election by outspending him by $7 million. But now the Democrats’ larder is empty. Phil Berger’s outraising Martin Nesbit (Basnight’s Senate heir) seventeen to one and Pat McCrory raised a million dollars more than Walter Dalton last quarter.
So, for Democrats, what went wrong?
Political money generally comes from three groups of people: Party donors – who give to a candidate because he’s a Democrat or Republican; ideological donors – who give because a candidate’s a liberal or conservative; and donors who give because they want something.
In North Carolina there are a modicum of ‘Party’ donors, fewer ‘Ideological’ donors, and a lot of people who give because they want something. If you want to try to tackle a really hard political problem try raising money for someone like Jesse Helms who told just about everyone who wanted something No. By comparison raising what’s euphemistically called ‘access money’ is easy. All you need is a candidate with a cooperative attitude. When Democrats controlled the legislature they were masters of raising the ‘easy money’ and they were in power so long no Democrat serving in the legislature even remembers raising money any other way
The hard truth for Democrats in the legislature is they built their financial house on sand – now their power’s vanished (as it always does sooner or later) and they need a new way to fund their campaigns. Finding North Carolina’s version of George Soros would be their simplest solution. But George Soroses are rare. The other solutions require a lot of hard work and won’t happen overnight but, at least, don’t disappear when the power vanishes.