Impeachment Trial Ramps Up Political Spending

Date : 01/24/2020 @ 10:59AM
Source : Dow Jones News

Impeachment Trial Ramps Up Political Spending

By Gabriel T. Rubin 

IMPEACHMENT CASH DASH: The cash spigots flow as the Senate deliberates over President Trump's impeachment. The Trump campaign says it has seen a 20%-30% jump in fundraising because of impeachment. Vulnerable senators in both parties face intense scrutiny from groups who threaten major expenditures against them if they vote the wrong way on conviction and lesser votes such as compelling certain witnesses to testify. The conservative American Action Network is spending $2.5 million on digital and TV ads during the trial against swing-district House Democrats and a total of $11 million in ads focused on impeachment. Donation pages on the GOP platform WinRed that include the word "impeach" or "impeachment" raised over 300% more than non-impeachment pages.

With Republican senators such as Cory Gardner, Susan Collins and Martha McSally taking the brunt of Democratic spending, Doug Jones and Gary Peters are the Democrats most in the Republican line of fire. Dark money group America First Policies debuted a $450,000 ad buy in Alabama this week targeting Jones for "standing with the radical left" on impeachment. Even out-of-cycle senators are taking a moment to fill their coffers with impeachment money: Ted Cruz, who isn't up for re-election until 2024, urged supporters to donate to him "to know if you're on the President's team."

At least one politician is taking a different approach: Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democratic presidential candidate, says he "will not conduct any campaign fundraising while the trial is in session."

REPUBLICANS see danger and opportunity in post-2020 reapportionment that determines how many congressional seats each state gets. Most new seats are likely to be in states that currently lean Republican such as Texas and Idaho. But the GOP may lose seats in blue states where legislatures could choose to eliminate a Republican-leaning seat in a rural area while preserving left-leaning suburban and urban seats in places like New York and Illinois.

The continuing national realignment making the expanding suburbs bluer and the emptying rural areas redder only exacerbates those trends. "We're growing in shrinking areas and shrinking in growing areas," said Republican State Leadership Committee President Austin Chambers. That adds pressure to maintain their grip on diversifying states such as North Carolina and Texas, where Democrats have made inroads: "We're trying to make sure they don't do to us what we did to them," Chambers said of the GOP's 2010 romp at the state level that allowed them to draw congressional maps for the past decade.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD ACTION FUND's endorsement of Susan Collins' opponent in the Maine Senate race, Sara Gideon, marks perhaps a final break with Senate Republicans among organizations that support abortion rights. PPFA didn't endorse Collins or her opponent in 2014, and they haven't endorsed or donated to a Republican Senate candidate since giving $5,000 to Mark Kirk's failed re-election bid in Illinois in 2016. In 2017 the group did honor Collins for being an "outspoken champion for women's health."

Republican Majority for Choice, which once backed candidates like Collins who support Roe v. Wade, shut its doors in 2018 after its leaders concluded that the GOP's "big tent has collapsed for good." Similarly, very few antiabortion lawmakers remain in the Democratic ranks. "Sen. Collins has not changed, but leadership at Planned Parenthood certainly has," Sen. Collins's campaign spokesman Kevin Kelley said.

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION alumni see City Hall as the next step after the White House. Mary Miller, a former top Obama Treasury Department official, announced a run for Baltimore mayor on the heels of former Treasury staffer Paige Cognetti becoming mayor of Scranton, Pa. Another former Treasury official, Luke Bronin, is the mayor of Hartford, Conn. Shaun Donovan, President Obama's Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, has been widely reported to be interested in the New York mayoralty, though he passed on challenging Bill de Blasio's re-election in 2017. Rahm Emanuel, the dean of municipally minded Obama alumni, wrapped up his two-term run in Chicago in 2019.

PRESIDENT TRUMP TWEETED in response to Fox News and Fox Business programming 657 times during 2019, according to an estimate by the liberal watchdog group Media Matters. That was around 10% of his total tweets for the year. The network's "Fox & Friends" morning show was live-tweeted the most, at least 206 times, more than 35 other Fox shows he responded to.

CENSUS BUREAU gets love-bombed by outside groups wanting to get everyone counted. The online response option has the unintended consequence of making it much easier for its tens of thousands of partner groups to help people respond. But that can infringe on the confidentiality of collecting census data. It also can create confusion about who's who and who's doing what.

The bureau is circulating a delicately worded note to set ground rules for volunteers, including a reminder that they state that they aren't Census Bureau employees and an admonishment not to collect data door-to-door on their own. "We want to reduce concerns about impostors so the public will be motivated to open the door for census takers," the note says.

MINOR MEMOS: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona adds color to somber impeachment trial proceedings with a fuzzy pink coat.... Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware sneaks up behind Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina during the impeachment press conference to play reporter.... "What would Washington be without its gossip, and what would the gossip be worth just now without impeachment?" asked the New York Herald during President Andrew Johnson's impeachment trial in March 1868.

Write to Gabriel T. Rubin at gabriel.rubin@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 24, 2020 05:44 ET (10:44 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.


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