Late in this year’s election cycle, Mayor Michael Bloomberg suddenly announced the creation of a “super PAC,” Independence USA, through which the billionaire mayor could funnel unlimited sums of cash to candidates who support his political agenda of gun control, gay marriage and education reform. Looking at the federal races Mr. Bloomberg aimed to influence through the new political action committee, however, a majority of his candidates narrowly lost last night.
For example, in western Connecticut, moderate Republican Andrew Roraback suffered a 48%-to-52% loss to Democrat Elizabeth Esty, despite Mr. Bloomberg spending more than a million dollars on Mr. Roraback’s behalf. Similarly, in another suburban seat, Mr. Bloomberg dropped roughly a million dollars boosting GOP Rep. Bob Dold in Illinois, only to see him lose by less than 1%. And, down in Florida, he spent more than $2 million in an attempt to vanquish Republican Congressman Dan Webster, but the incumbent still beat back a strong challenge from Val Demings, 52% to 48%.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently launched a “super PAC,” loaded with at least $10 million of his own money, to influence this year’s elections, but in an interview this morning, the mayor said he was just dipping his toes in the water and plans to do even more electoral engineering after he’s term-limited out in 2013.
“We’ll win some races, we’ll lose some of these, but it’s sort of to get our feet wet,” Mr. Bloomberg said during his weekly appearance on John Gambling’s radio show. “Two years from now, when I don’t have to worry about just what’s good for New York City–I’m going to live here for the rest of my life, my kids are going to live here, I’m going to live in New York State, I’m going to live in America, so I care about all of these levels of government–I’ll be freer to do more.”
Earlier this year, former Gov. George Pataki launched a Super PAC aimed at tilting the many competitive U.S. House races in New York toward the Republican Party. He claimed millions of dollars in pledges with expectations to raise “in the high seven figures,” or, “if things go well, in the low eight” in total funds. But he’s not close to that number so far, according to last month’s federal filing, he’s raised only $30,000, spending about $750 total. After a press conference endorsing Wendy Long’s senatorial campaign this morning, however, Mr. Pataki told The Politicker he still expects to make an impact.
“I’m still very hopeful,” he said of his donors coming through for his Super PAC endeavor. “The people aren’t focusing on the House races at this point, understandably, and I haven’t been because I have a lot that I’m working on. We have plans down the road. We’re going to do our best to hit the seven-figure mark and see what we can do.”
“Hit the seven-figure mark” seemed a bit less than the “high seven” to “low eight” he assured the Wall Street Journal he would raise, however, and we inquired about the lower sum.
Lesbians now have their very own super PAC. LPAC, a super PAC dedicated to giving “lesbians a real and meaningful seat at the table” launched this morning.
Congressman Charlie Rangel has steadily been making the Campaign for Primary Accountability super PAC’s support for one of his opponents, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, an issue throughout his reelection campaign. “Right-wingers from Texas are trying to stop him,” one of his campaign mailers declared, for example. However, that super PAC — despite promising to spend “six figures” — never even bothered to spend as much as $10,000.
But in the modern era of super PACs, there’s always another. In a campaign email to supporters entitled “Houston, We Have a Problem,” the incumbent congressman lamented the existence of a different Super PAC supporting another one of his Democratic opponents, Clyde Williams.
Congressman Charlie Rangel is trying to use a Super PAC that’s backing his opponent State Senator Adriano Espaillat to his own advantage. The Politicker received a mailer from Mr. Rangel at our Washington Heights bureau in which the congressman encourages people to give him their votes because of the Super PAC’s support for his rival.
“Pinned down on the battlefield in Korea, Charlie Rangel decided to devote himself to public service if God let him survive. And he’s never stopped fighting for us,” the mailer says. “But now right-wing Tea Partiers from Texas are trying to stop him by telling us how to vote–and its time to fight back.”
From The Archives
Last week, a Super PAC’s plan to paint President Barack Obama as a “metrosexual black Abe Lincoln” dominated the news cycle. Here is the Observer‘s rendition of what that might look like drawn by artist Victor Juhasz for this paper’s cover in November 2008.
Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s successor as pastor of Chicago’s Trinity Baptist Church, Otis Moss III, took to Twitter to comment on the New York Times‘ story about a controversial plan by a conservative Super PAC run by billionaire Joe Ricketts to attack President Barack Obama by associating him with Reverend Wright.
“We must fight this! Just got word about the structure of the ads. I will be calling on people of good will to stand with our church,” Mr. Moss wrote. “It is not about denomination or theology This is an attack on the black church, ministry and prophetic witness.”
In the middle of his media tour promoting his new Super PAC, former Governor George Pataki also took time to answer questions on the primary process and whether he should have entered the Republican presidential field himself on Inside City Hall last night.
The host, Errol Louis, first asked Mr. Pataki if the new rules that elongated the primary were a mistake.
“I don’t think so,” he replied. “After the fact, you look at it and say, ‘It lasted too long, there were too many candidates.’ But I think it was more of a function of the messaging and the candidates than the process itself.”
Super PAC’s took center stage at the Fox News/Wall Street Journal Republican debate in Myrtle Beach last night when Rick Santorum accused Mitt Romney of using the controversial campaign committees to sponsor “inaccurate,” negative ads.
“I’ve run a very strong and positive campaign, my ads have been positive the only ad that I’ve ever put up contrasted myself with the other candidates and does so in a way talking about issues,” Mr. Santorum said. “Governor Romney’s super PAC has put an ad out there suggesting that I voted to allow felons to be able to vote from prison.”