Blog Posts by Holly Bailey

  • Swift Boat donor gives $7 million to American Crossroads

    bob perryAmerican Crossroads, a conservative group that has spent millions to boost GOP candidates in the 2010 midterms, raised $15 million in the last six weeks, nearly half of that from a single Republican donor.

    According to reports filed Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission, the group raised $7 million alone from Bob Perry, a press-shy Texas home builder perhaps best known as the donor who provided the seed money for Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. The Swift Boat group, one of the first and best-known so-called 527 political committees, spent nearly $20 million on ads attacking John Kerry in the '04 presidential campaign.

    Perry, who was a top contributor to George W. Bush's presidential campaigns, has been a go-to donor for Republicans over the years. All told, he and his company, Perry Homes, have contributed more than $20 million to GOP candidates, parties and outside conservative groups since 2002, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That doesn't include the $7 million to American Crossroads or a recent $3.5 million check to the Republican Governors Association—or political donations that aren't subject to public disclosure.

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  • McMahon spends $41.5 million on her CT Senate bid

    mcmahonIs Linda McMahon going to break her personal spending limit in Connecticut's Senate race?

    According to a finance report filed today, the Senate GOP hopeful loaned her campaign another $20 million between July and September, bringing her ultimate investment in the race to $41.5 million so far. That makes her not only the top self-contributor in a 2010 congressional race but also the biggest spending House or Senate candidate in the country. (Meg Whitman, who is running for governor in California, doesn't count.)

    As of Sept. 30, McMahon had just $2.6 million cash in the bank -- that's just over double the $1.2 million cash on hand her Democratic opponent, Richard Blumenthal, reported. But Blumenthal has gotten help from Senate Democrats in recent weeks, as the party has spent at least $2 million in ads attacking McMahon. The GOP, on the other hand, is leaving all the money-related heavy lifting to McMahon.

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  • GOP ad slams Reid for living at the Ritz-Carlton

    nrsc redIt was a political ad waiting to happen. Just a few days after Sharron Angle questioned Harry Reid's wealth during last week's Nevada Senate debate, Republicans are out with a new ad attacking the Senate majority leader for living at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington.

    The ad, paid for by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, hits Reid where he is truly vulnerable: the idea that he's out of touch with the struggles of ordinary Nevadans. Nevada now has the highest unemployment rate in the country, 14.4 percent, and the state leads the nation in the number of home foreclosures.

    Those stats get prominent play in the ad, which includes footage of Reid saying he has nothing to do with the "unemployment figures." "To him it's a figure," a narrator says. "Maybe it's because Harry lives at the Ritz-Carlton while thousands are losing their homes."

    You can watch the ad after the jump:

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  • McCain likens Palin to Reagan, calls her a part of his legacy

    palin mccainJohn McCain still has no regrets about picking Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate in 2008, telling ABC's "Nightline" that he's "proud" of Palin and views her as part of his political legacy.

    "I haven't seen anyone since Ronald Reagan that with certain individuals and large groups of individuals who really have this passionate belief and support for her," McCain told ABC's Terry Moran. "It's really a remarkable thing to observe."

    McCain shrugged off poll numbers that show a majority of voters view Palin as polarizing and said he had no regrets about introducing her to the national political scene. "I couldn't be more proud of the campaign she waged. I couldn't be more proud of her or her performance," McCain said. "So, I think, you begin to think about legacy, and I think Sarah Palin will play a very big role in the American political scene for a very long time."

    Asked specifically if he views her as part of "his legacy," McCain nodded yes. "Sure," he replied. "I'm proud of her."

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  • Union-backed group aims to protect vulnerable Democrats

    rossiAmid an onslaught of outside GOP money, a new group funded by Democratic allies is launching ads to protect vulnerable Democrats in hotly contested Senate races across the country.

    Commonsense Ten, co-founded by longtime Democratic strategist and former John Kerry aide Jim Jordan, has spent nearly $2.5 million on ads in the last week attacking GOP Senate candidates in Washington, West Virginia, Colorado and Kentucky.

    The group, which was founded in June but only recently became active, is filed as a so-called 527 political committee, which means it can raise and spend unlimited amounts of cash to influence the 2010 campaign. In a report filed Monday, the group disclosed that it had raised nearly $1 million through Sept. 30—mostly from labor unions.

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  • Tarkanian behind GOP group working to defeat Reid

    tarkanianRepublican Danny Tarkanian lost his bid for the GOP Senate nomination in Nevada, but that hasn't stopped him from continuing his efforts to unseat Harry Reid. Tarkanian, who has endorsed onetime GOP rival Sharron Angle in the race, is behind Harry Reid Votes, a so-called 527 political action committee working to unseat the Senate majority leader.

    According to records filed with the Federal Election Commission on Friday, the group has spent nearly $25,000 since August—most of that money in the last two weeks—to oppose Reid's re-election. Last month, the group spent nearly $4,000 on radio spots and robocalls to Nevada voters. A report filed Wednesday disclosed that the group had spent nearly $13,000 on signs and "door-to-door canvassing." In a filing Saturday, the group reported it had spent just over $5,000 on canvassing, "scratch cards" and a "costume rental."

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  • Corporate donors spend heavily to aid Murkowski

    lisa m

    An outside group working to boost incumbent Republican Lisa Murkowski's write-in bid in Alaska's hotly contested Senate race raised all of its funds from just eight corporate donors—all Alaska Native companies.

    In a report filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission, Alaskans Standing Together reported raising $790,000 through Sept. 30. None of that money came via individual donors--a rare development for outside political committees that typically solicit individual checks in order to push claims of "grassroots" support. AST's biggest donor: $140,000 from Arctic Slope Regional Corp., which has lobbied to expand drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

    AST has already spent the $790,000 it raised—and more. As The Upshot reported last week, AST reported a $600,000 ad expenditure on Murkowski's behalf last week. On Thursday, the group filed notice of another $300,000 expenditure. That was followed by another $115,000 on Saturday.

    Technically, AST is not allowed formally to endorse Murkowski or coordinate with her campaign, but the group's website makes crystal-clear who it is pulling for in the race.

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  • Shadow groups push legal limits in political ads

    bright adThe surge of secret money being spent to influence the 2010 midterms may be only the beginning of the unraveling of the country's campaign finance laws. Now outside interest groups are also skirting the line when it comes to making endorsements in political ads.

    Under the law, independent interest groups are not allowed to explicitly endorse or argue for the defeat of specific candidates in political ads. But as the New York Times' Michael Luo reports, some groups are using words like "vote for" or "vote against" in political spots in the final weeks of the campaign, phrases that used to land outside groups into legal trouble.

    The landscape has changed in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling in January, which overturned rules limiting fundraising and spending by outside interest groups. With federal officials unsure how to regulate such spending, some shadow groups are now pushing the envelope even further with sharper messages in the campaign's final weeks.

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  • Angle and Reid both have $4 million for the final stretch

    reid angle

    Not only are Harry Reid and Sharron Angle tied in Nevada polls, the two candidates enter the final stretch of the 2010 campaign with the same amount of cash in the bank.

    According to finance reports filed Friday, Reid and Angle each had roughly $4 million in the bank as of Oct. 1. As The Upshot reported Tuesday, Angle raised a record-breaking $14.3 million in the last three months, but her campaign revealed Friday that she spent nearly $12 million on ads and fundraising. (She began the reporting period with $2 million in the bank.)

    Reid began July with nearly $9 million in the bank and, as reported by the Las Vegas Sun's Jon Ralston, Reid raised just $2.8 million in the last three months. But Reid spent more than $7 million on ads, ending the month on equal financial footing with Angle.

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  • Senate GOP increases ad buys for Fiorina and Toomey

    fiorinaWith Marco Rubio comfortably ahead, Republicans are taking ad money that the party had planned to spend in Florida's Senate race and are using it to boost two other GOP Senate candidates: Carly Fiorina in California and Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania.

    According to Republican Party sources, the National Republican Senatorial Committee will now spend another $1.8 million to boost Fiorina's bid to unseat California Democrat Barbara Boxer. That's in addition to the $3 million the party originally budgeted for the race. In Pennsylvania, the NRSC now plans to spend at least another $1.7 million—roughly double its initial pledge--to boost Toomey's candidacy against Democrat Joe Sestak.

    For weeks, Toomey has led Sestak in the polls by anywhere from 5 to 10 points, but the NRSC's decision to spend more in the race hints that Republicans still aren't quite comfortable that Toomey has the race locked up. Sestak, after all, overcame a deficit of nearly 10 points at the last minute to unseat Sen. Arlen Specter in the state's Democratic Senate primary. But Dems are facing a dismal political climate in the state, which has been hit hard by the economy.

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