Merkley loses

As of Oct. 15, 2014, Senator Jeff Merkley’s Leadership PAC had given out contributions to other Senate Democrats running for office in Nov. 2014. Based on the results of the election, he didn’t make very good investments. And now he’s going to be in the minority, too. Tough luck.

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Total to Democrats: $91,000
Total to Republicans: $0

Recipient Total

Begich, Mark (D-AK) $10,000 LOST
Braley, Bruce (D-IA) $ 1,500 LOST
Coons, Chris (D-DE) $ 5,000 LOST
Franken, Al (D-MN) $ 5,000
Grimes, Alison (D-KY) $ 5,000 LOST
Hagan, Kay R (D-NC) $ 7,500 LOST
Landrieu, Mary L (D-LA) $ 7,500 WILL LOSE
Markey, Ed (D-MA $ 2,000
Nunn, Michelle (D-GA) $ 5,000 LOST
Peters, Gary (D-MI) $ 1,500
Pryor, Mark (D-AR) $ 7,500 LOST
Reed, Jack (D-RI) $ 5,000
Schatz, Brian (D-HI) $ 2,500
Shaheen, Jeanne (D-NH) $ 7,500
Udall, Mark (D-CO) $ 5,000 LOST
Udall, Tom (D-NM) $ 3,500
Walsh, John (D-MT) $ 5,000 WITHDREW
Warner, Mark (D-VA) $ 5,000

Based on data released by the FEC on October 25, 2014.
Center for Responsive Politics.

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Monica Wehby: down for the count

Originally positioned by the Republicans as a smart female political newcomer and seen as a credible challenger to Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Monica Wehby has become a damaged candidate with diminishing changes of success.

“I’m not a politician,” she said in announcing her candidacy in January 2014. So, far, that’s pretty clear. A pediatric neurosurgeon at Randall Children’s Hospital, she has been tripped up almost from day one.

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It’s not as though Merkley should be a particularly strong opponent. Winning the first time by just 49% to 46%, he’s a pretty colorless Senator with one of the most liberal voting records and without any significant legislative accomplishments.

With today being the first day of the federal fiscal year, Merkley can also be fairly targeted as a Senator who has done nothing to effectively deal with the burgeoning national debt, now at $17.5 billion and counting, that is going to burden all our children.

Merkley is also running at a time when the country overall is in a pretty sour mood, with 67 percent of registered voters saying the nation is on the wrong track (NBC/Wall Street Journal) and 57 percent of registered voters nationwide saying it’s time to give a new person a chance in Congress (NBC/Wall Street Journal).

But if the polls are right, that doesn’t seem to matter to enough Oregonians to make Merkley vulnerable.

Instead, Wehby has been left defending herself against such things as charges arising out of opposition research that she harassed a boyfriend and her ex-husband. As Joe Pounder, a veteran GOP researcher, told Politico, “There’s the growing intensity of a media cycle fueled by the salacious and voyeuristic.”

Likely opposition research that generated reports on the website Buzzfeed in September that multiple portions of position documents on Wehby’s website had been plagiarized also has slowed any Wehby momentum.

Despite Wehby’s efforts to position herself as a new choice, and the significant support she’s been getting from independent spending, it’s pretty clear at this point that she hasn’t broken out to capture the hearts, minds and votes of enough Oregonians to win.

Merkley’s money: what a difference a term makes

HandsOut

Things are different now.

When Democrat Jeff Merkley first ran for the U.S. Senate in 2008, he raised a total of $6,512,231.

Now that he’s a Senator, he’s already reported raising $6,286,013 for his reelection and the 2014 race, in theory, hasn’t even begun. The Republicans haven’t even chosen who will run against him.

That means Merkley’s total haul is likely to go much higher as individuals, special interests and Democratic Party funds ramp up their donations to keep him in office.

The two parties are in a no-holds-barred struggle for control of the Senate, where pollsters and analysts think the Republicans have a shot at taking control with a good showing in the November 2014 elections. Merkley isn’t often mentioned as being in a high-risk race, but then former Senator Gordon Smith wasn’t thought to be vulnerable early on either.

With 5 years as a U.S. Senator now behind him, the sources of Merkley’s donations are shifting. A smaller share is coming from individual contributors and twice as much from political action committees (PACs). Also, more unions are stepping up as big contributors, his big donors have less of an Oregon focus and Merkley isn’t having to dig into his own pocket.

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According to the Center for Responsive Politics, contributions to Merkley’s campaign committee for his 2008 campaign and for his 2014 campaign as of Dec. 31, 2013 break down as follows:

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For his 2008 Senate race, Merkley’s largest 10 contributors (individuals and PACs) to his campaign committee were:

JStreetPAC $78,180
Council for a Livable World $55,889
State of Oregon employees $35,050
Oregon Health & Science University $33,964
Moveon.org $26,731
Stoel, Rives et al $23,323
League of Conservation Voters $21,500
Intel Corporation $17,920
Newmark Knight Frank $17,300
Intl. Brotherhood of Electrical Workers $17,200

The largest contributor to his 2008 campaign, Washington, D.C-based JStreetPAC, makes contributions to candidates who support a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine and robust American military aid to Israel. “I am and will continue to be a staunch supporter of the special relationship between the U.S. and Israel,” Merkley said during his 2008 campaign.“I will always seek to ensure its strength and foster its growth.”

The second largest contributor to his 2008 campaign, Council for a Livable World, is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to reducing the danger of nuclear weapons. Merkley subsequently voted in 2010 for a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia and in February 2014, Merkley and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) introduced legislation that would cut $100 billion over the next decade from the U.S. nuclear weapons budget.

The bill, S. 2070, would shut down all U.S. missile defense activities, reduce from 12 to eight the number of SSBN(X) ballistic-missile submarines that are set to replace the retiring Ohio-class fleet and limit to eight the number of Ohio-class submarines that can currently be fielded. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Armed Services where its languishing.

The largest 10 contributors (individuals and PACs) to Merkley’s campaign committee for his 2014 race as of the end of 2013 are significantly different, with much less of an Oregon focus:

Votesane PAC $31,250
Thornton & Naumes $25,000
Intel Corporation $22,050
Honeywell Intl. $20,000
Operating Engineers Union $20,000
Intl. Association of Firefighters $18,500
Blue Cross/Blue Shield $17,100
League of Conservation Voters $15,314
American Crystal Sugar $15,000
Communications Workers of America $15,000

Votesane PAC, a non-partisan channel for political donations, has funneled $1.6 million to candidates in the 2014 election cycle, with almost all of it going to Democrats.

The only union showing up in Merkley’s list of top 10 contributors for his 2008 race was the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers at $17,200. Three unions show up as his biggest contributors for the 2014 race so far with a total of $53,500.

Also making their debut as major Merkley contributors are individuals from Thornton & Naumes, a Boston, Mass. law firm with class action expertise that has represented people claiming they were victims of asbestos and toxic exposure, defective products, financial fraud, and personal injury accidents.. Law firms and lawyers have been the top contributors to Merkley’s 2014 campaign as of Dec. 31, 2013, donating a total of $296,363.

This only reveals, of course, donations up the end of 2013. Expect a lot of shifts as the campaign progresses.

Merkley has already spent $3,045,241, or almost half, of the funds he’s raised since 2008. Recently, the largest single amount has gone to Mandate Media,a Portland-based internet strategy,services,and advertising firm specializing in progressive political candidates and advocacy organizations. Mandate is also associated with BlueOregon, a widely distributed progressive e-newsletter.

The top 5 recipients of the campaign’s recent expenditures were:

Mandate Media $200,485
CHS Mailing $141,305
Kauffman Group $125,163
Linemark Printing $ 71,639
Benenson Strategy Group $ 47,000

It’s important to recognize that much of the money now being spent on campaigns is so-called independent expenditures, spending by groups and individuals who claim they are not coordinating their activities with a candidate’s campaign committee.

In Merkley’s 2008 race, for example, according to FindTheBest, the following outside groups spent about $675,000 in support of his candidacy:

Committee Amount

Service Employees International
Union Committee on Political Education
(SEIU Cope) $430,238
League of Conservation Voters Inc. $145,317
Democratic Senatorial Committee $ 47,746
League of Conservation Voters
Action Fund $ 40,862
Moveon.org Political Action $ 7,026

It’s likely that similarly large amounts of independent expenditures will occur in the 2014 race.

Data sources: The Center for Responsive Politics (http://www.opensecrets.org), a non-profit, non-partisan research group based in Washington, D.C.; FindTheBest (www.findthebest.com; http://bit.ly/1nYKKSA),a network of for-profit websites connected to help consumers and businesses make informed decisions.

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The Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Superhypothetical

Is Hillary going to run? Of course. But until she blurts it out officially, the media is having a field day writing speculative articles that seem to be written principally by adoring liberals to keep Hillary in the public eye.

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Mark Leibovich, author of the D.C dirt-dishing book “This Town”, wrote an unflattering  piece in the New York Times today about Scott Brown’s foray into New Hampshire politics,. He used him as a prime example of “a modern political breed known as the Superhypothetical — those professional non-candidates whose franchises depend largely on people speculating about what they might run for and their own willingness to engage in public indecision about it (all while assuring us, of course, that they are flattered and humbled by our interest).”

Leibovich even managed to comment on Brown’s move across the border from Wrentham, Mass., to his vacation home in Rye, N.H., in December as a reflection of  “a larger understanding of our politics” He points out that it matters not where a candidate actually comes from anymore. “More important, politics now are largely transacted in the nongeographic netherworlds of the media,” he said.

Somehow, however, Leibovich managed not to even mention Hillary, the all-around-best example of this new phenomenon.

If Brown is a Superhypothetical, Clinton is the Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Superhypothetical, adored by the liberal media and promoted ad nauseum.

Not only that, but if Brown is to be castigated for his move to New Hampshire to run for the Senate again, Clinton was the carpet-bagger extraordinaire when she moved to New York to position herself for a run for the U.S. Senate. After all, Hillary, who grew up in a Chicago suburb, went to college in Massachusetts and Connecticut, then lived in Arkansas until Bill Clinton was elected president, had never even lived in New York. Still she won her New York race for the Senate.

Of course, neither Scott Brown nor Hillary Clinton have anything on James Shields, Oregon’s territorial governor during 1848-49. He subsequently became a senator from Illinois, Minnesota and Missouri, moving to a new state each time he wasn’t re-elected.