Jul 01, 2022
Democrats swiftly raised $80M after court overturned Roe
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WASHINGTON (AP) — In the first week after the Supreme Court stripped away a woman’s constitutional right to have an abortion, Democrats and aligned groups raised more than $80 million, a tangible early sign that the ruling may energize voters.
But party officials say donors are giving much of that money to national campaigns and causes instead of races for state office, where abortion policy will now be shaped as a result of the court’s decision.That’s where Republicans wield disproportionate power after more than a decade of plunging money and resources into critical but often-overlooked contests.
The fundraising disparity offers an example of how a lack of long-term planning can lead to both a structural disadvantage and an exasperated Democratic base. Short of the votes to pass legislation through a gridlocked and narrowly divided Congress, the right to abortion now appears to be the latest issue ceded largely to the states. That’s after failed Democratic efforts to expand voting rights, limit gerrymandering and significantly stiffen gun laws.
“We can no longer afford Democrats’ systemic neglect of down-ballot races — not when Republicans are eager to intrude on our health care decisions, bedrooms, and marriages,” said Gabrielle Chew, a spokesperson for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which helps finance state legislative races. “This should be a wake-up call.”
The massive $80 million fundraising haul was recorded by ActBlue, the Democrats’ online fundraising platform, which has a ticker that shows in real time the money passing through the organization. ActBlue took in over $20 million in the first 24 hours after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that determined abortion was a constitutional right. By Tuesday, the group had processed more than $51 million in donations, and by Friday, the total had reached $80 million.
In fact, all major Democratic campaign committees reported a surge in contributions after the ruling, including those working on state-level as well as federal races. Planned Parenthood, too.. But few have been willing to release hard numbers.
WinRed, the online fundraising portal for the Republican Party, did not respond to an inquiry about the party’s fundraising since the court’s decision.
The fundraising disparity is nothing new between Democratic groups working for state candidates and those focusing on national issues after a defining moment. For example, ActBlue took in more than $71 million in just 24 hours after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, little of which went to groups working on state-level campaigns.
Consider the case of Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison, who in 2020 shattered fundraising records in his long-shot bid to oust Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and head to Congress in Washington. Harrison ended up losing the race by more than 10 points. He raised more than $57 million in the closing months of his campaign, including one 24-hour period in which he raised over $1 million.
But for statehouses? The Democratic Governors Association announced it had raised $200,000 after the court’s decision last week. The organization said Thursday that it was on pace to raise $1 million before the start of the long Fourth of July weekend, which is less the other committees focused on national races.
The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which raises money for state races across the country, declined to say how much it has taken in since the court decision. But its past fundraising figures demonstrate how underresourced the group is.
The DLCC raised $650,000 in the 48 hours after a leaked copy of the court’s decision surfaced in May. Earlier this year, it celebrated when announcing it had raised nearly $6 million in the final three months of last year.
Its GOP counterpart, the Republican State Leadership Committee, raised more than twice that during the same period last year.
“When Democrats (spend) 1-to-1 with Republicans in legislative races, we win them,” said Greg Goddard, a Florida Democrat who raises money for national and state campaigns. “But when it’s 3-to-1, or 4-to-1, we get clobbered.”
Amanda Litman, co-founder of the group Run For Something, which recruits candidates to run for school board races, city councils and legislatures, said Democrats have a woeful track record when it comes to investing in down-ballot races that also build a bench of future talent.
“The worst laws are going to come from the reddest states, and they are not going to stay in those red state borders. So what are you going to do to mitigate the harm?” Litman said after the abortion ruling. “I want to see Joe Biden doing fundraisers for the DLCC and the DGA.”
The Democratic fundraising eco-system typically rewards social media stars, those who appear on popular liberal shows, like Rachel Maddow, or candidates who go viral online. That’s exceedingly difficult for candidates in races that don’t draw much attention away from home, like most legislative contests.
Meanwhile, big dollar donors have historically donated to national candidates, or groups focused on the presidency or Congress.
Still, some Democrats bristle at the suggestion that down-ballot races don’t get enough attention.
Sam Newton, a spokesperson for the governors association, said it has its own success story to tell. Democratic candidates in key states saw major donation surges after the court decision, he said. The group has also closed a 2-to-1 fundraising gap with Republicans that existed less than a decade ago, reaching parity last year.
Planned Parenthood is part of a joint effort with the abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America and EMILY’s List, which supports women running for office, that plans to spend $150 million up and down the ballot in the 2022 midterms, said Jenny Lawson, executive director of Planned Parenthood Votes.
Governors’ races will be a major focus, she said, citing Michigan and Wisconsin, in particular, where decades-old laws banning abortion are still on the books. (Michigan’s law dates to 1931; Wisconsin’s to 1849.) Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, both Democrats, are facing tough reelection battles.
“Those governors have stood in front of these Republican legislatures who want nothing more than to ban abortion and they have said ‘no,’” said Lawson. “These governors are on the front line, and we need to protect them.”
But others are skeptical that the effort will trickle down outside of high-profile races.
Litman said some party donors are warming up to the idea of giving to down-ballot contests. But there remains a culture in the party, particularly among megadonors, of chasing the “bright, shiny object,” she said. Republicans, meanwhile, treat political giving as a “business investment — you get your judges and tax cuts” and “you spend money patiently knowing it will pay off,” she said.
“We have to balance our short-term immediate electoral goals with a long-term mission to win back these seats,” Litman said.
Follow AP for full coverage of the midterms at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and on Twitter, https://twitter.com/ap_politics
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Dems push Biden climate, health priorities toward Senate OK
WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats drove their election-year economic package toward Senate approval early Sunday, debating a measure that is less ambitious than President Joe Biden’s original domestic goals but touches deep-rooted party dreams of slowing global warming,moderating pharmaceutical costs and taxing immense corporations.
The legislation cleared its first test in the evenly divided chamber when Democrats burst past unanimous Republican opposition and voted to begin debate 51-50, thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote. The House planned to return Friday to vote on what Democrats hope will be final congressional approval.
“It will reduce inflation. It will lower prescription drug costs. It will fight climate change. It will close tax loopholes and it will reduce and reduce the deficit,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said of the package. “It will help every citizen in this country and make America a much better place.”
Republicans said the measure would undermine an economy that policymakers are struggling to keep from plummeting into recession. They said the bill’s business taxes would hurt job creation and force prices skyward, making it harder for people to cope with the nation’s worst inflation since the 1980s.
“Democrats have already robbed American families once through inflation, and now their solution is to rob American families a second time,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., argued. He said spending and tax hikes in the legislation would eliminate jobs while having insignificant impact on inflation and climate change.
Nonpartisan analysts have said the Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act would have a minor impact on surging consumer prices. The bill is barely more than one-tenth the size of Biden’s initial 10-year, $3.5 trillion rainbow of progressive dreams, and the new package abandoned universal preschool, paid family leave and expanded child care aid.
Even so, the measure gives Democrats a campaign-season showcase for action on coveted goals. It includes the largest ever federal effort on climate change — close to $400 billion — and would hand Medicare the power to negotiate pharmaceutical prices and extend expiring subsidies that help 13 million Americans afford health insurance.
Biden’s original measure collapsed after conservative Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., opposed it, saying it was too costly and would fuel inflation.
In an ordeal imposed on all budget bills like this one, the Senate descended into an hours-long “vote-a-rama” of rapid-fire amendments. Each tested Democrats’ ability to hold together a compromise negotiated by Schumer, progressives, Manchin and the inscrutable centrist Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.
Progressive Sen. Bernie Sander, I-Vt., offered amendments to further expand the legislation’s health benefits, and they were defeated. But most proposed changes were fashioned by Republicans to unravel the bill or force Democrats into votes on dangerous political terrain.
One GOP proposal would have forced the Biden administration to continue Trump-era restrictions that cited the pandemic for reducing the flow of migrants across the Southwest border.
Earlier this year, Democrats facing tough reelections supported such an extension, forcing the party to drop its push for COVID-19 spending when Republicans conjoined the two issues. This time, with their far larger economic legislation at stake and elections approaching, Democrats rallied against the border controls.
Other GOP amendments would have required more gas and oil leasing on federal lands and blocked a renewal of a fee on oil that helps finance toxic waste cleanups. All were rejected on party-line votes. Republicans accused Democrats of being soft on border security and opening the door to higher energy and gas costs.
Before debate began Saturday, the bill’s prescription drug price curbs were diluted by the Senate’s non-partisan parliamentarian. Elizabeth MacDonough, who referees questions about the chamber’s procedures, said a provision should fall that would impose costly penalties on drugmakers whose price increases for private insurers exceed inflation.
It was the bill’s chief protection for the 180 million people with private health coverage through work or that they purchase themselves. Under special procedures that will let Democrats pass their bill by simple majority without the usual 60 vote margin, its provisions must be focused more on policy than dollar-and-cents budget changes.
But the thrust of their pharmaceutical price language remained. That included letting Medicare negotiate what it pays for drugs for its 64 million elderly recipients, penalizing manufacturers for exceeding inflation for drugs sold to Medicare and limiting beneficiaries out-of-pocket drug costs to $2,000 annually.
The bill also caps patients’ costs for insulin, the diabetes medication, at $35 monthly.
The measure’s final costs were being recalculated to reflect late changes, but overall it would raise more than $700 billion over a decade. The funding would come from a 15% minimum tax on a handful of corporations with yearly profits above $1 billion; a 1% tax on companies that repurchase their own stock, beefed up IRS tax collections and government savings from lower drug costs.
Sinema forced Democrats to drop a plan to prevent wealthy hedge fund managers from paying less than individual income tax rates for their earnings. She also joined with other Western senators to win $4 billion to combat the region’s horrific drought.
It was on the energy and environment side that Democrats’ compromise was most evident between progressives and Manchin, a champion of fossil fuels and his state’s coal industry.
Efforts fostering clean energy would be strengthened with tax credits for buying electric vehicles and manufacturing solar panels and wind turbines. There would be home energy rebates, funds for constructing factories building clean energy technology and money to promote climate-friendly farm practices and reduce pollution in minority communities.
Manchin won billions to help power plants lower carbon emissions plus language requiring more government auctions for oil drilling on federal land and waters. Party leaders also promised to push separate legislation this fall to accelerate permits for energy projects, which Manchin wants to include a nearly completed natural gas pipeline in his state.
Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.