Money Isn't Everything

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on December 12, 2009

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At least not when it comes to elections. As Patrick Ruffini writes, the GOP remains far too enamored of wealthy candidates at the expense of really good ones who may not start out with lots of cash in their campaign coffers.

Obviously, being able to compete financially as one seeks election is a good thing, but the electorate doesn’t vote for a pile of money. Rather, it votes for a candidate who has a sense of the past and the present, knows where he/she wants to go in the future, and persuades the electorate to believe that it wants to make the trip with the candidate. Candidate recruitment for the upcoming 2010 midterms is going quite well by all accounts, which leads one to believe that perhaps the GOP has learned this lesson. But it is a lesson worth hammering home, which is why Ruffini’s post is an important one.

The essence of Ruffini’s argument is found at the end of his post:

In any system where money rules, conservatives lose. When endorsements and political support are rooted in money, not principle, that’s just as great an insult as choosing a moderate over a conservative in a red state on electability grounds. This is not a matter of being a campaign finance zealot as it of avoiding bad and unreliable candidates who tend to lose at alarming rates.

To be clear, I don’t think everyone who’s put in a dime of their own money to a race is the bad guy. We would have been much better off in NY-23 had we chosen that guy. There are many very good local businesspeople running for Congress who will put in some seed money to get started, but ultimately rely on a strong network of donors to get them over the top. The problem is those who pledge to spend at astronomical rates so they can defy the political laws of gravity, and in turn fool (or buy off) the political class who wrongly believe that lots of money can overcome an unknown candidate with a bad message.

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