Democrats are still expressing confidence that they’ll retake Congress in November, and perhaps they will. One reason for their optimism is the gusher of campaign money coming their way this year, and notice how you don’t hear liberals complaining about the corrupting power of money in politics.
Democrats are rolling in cash as liberal interest groups, unions and rich liberals are fired up, while business lobbies hedge their bets in case Nancy Pelosi is the next Speaker. Mrs. Pelosi remembers who gives—and who doesn’t.
The abortion-rights lobby is dumping cash into House races, including a recent $1 million ad buy from NARAL that targets GOP Members in swing districts such as Peter Roskam in Illinois and Kevin Yoder in Kansas. (The GOP agenda “harms and silences women,” the ad says.) Planned Parenthood said last month the group will spend $20 million on voter turnout.
Then there are billionaires like Mike Bloomberg, who is spending $80 million to turn the House and another $20 million to make Chuck Schumer Senate Majority Leader. And don’t forget Tom Steyer, the West Coast impeachment campaigner who plans to spend more than $100 million through various proxies. Mr. Steyer is spending more than $5 million alone for Andrew Gillum, the progressive Democrat running for Governor in Florida.
Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke, known mostly for gushing media profiles, announced an extraordinary fundraising total of $38.1 million last quarter. He’s been dining out on the fact that he doesn’t take donations from political action committees, which can spend on his behalf without his approval. Mr. O’Rourke’s windfall shows how much national Democrats want to defeat Senator Ted Cruz, who is still leading in the polls.
Money isn’t destiny in politics but it does have consequences. It has helped House Democrats expand their list of targeted seats as more than 60 of their candidates raised more than $1 million in the last quarter. That money edge is forcing less-flush Republicans to practice political triage and cut off some incumbents who are trailing in the polls.
The money flood also exposes the liberal canard about the threat to democracy from “dark money.” Donations to candidates and parties must be reported, and Democrats benefit as much as Republicans from groups that do issue advertising and can in some cases keep their donations secret. How do you think liberals know enough to complain about the campaign donations of the Koch brothers or Las Vegas businessman Sheldon Adelson?
We believe campaign spending is a form of political speech, but remember this year’s cash boom the next time Democrats bemoan Citizens United as the Supreme Court decision that destroyed democracy. Democrats will cash all of Mr. Bloomberg’s checks and anyone else’s this year. And if progressives win control of Congress, their best friend will have been their supposed biggest enemy: money in politics.
—The Wall Street Journal