Maryland Senator Ben Cardin: “… I am humbled by the level of support I’ve received.” This he said in regards to the third quarter 2011 report of $700,000 his campaign accumulated which prompted Ben Pershing, in a 14 October, Washington Post article to proclaim the thoughtless assumption that any challenger would have a steep financial hill to climb. Who is this Everest climbing challenger? Daniel Bongino, a serious, honest, and viable Republican candidate for Maryland U.S. Senator whom a few are discounting simply because of differences in campaign contributions. Money. Is that all this is about? Does the player with the fattest wallet always win?
New York Times columnist, David Brooks, recently commented quite appropriately that, “…money is a talisman. It makes people feel good because they think it has magical properties. … federal races are oversaturated. … money is almost never the difference between victory and defeat. It’s just the primitive mythology of the political class.” Let us look at just a few examples:
In the 2007 general election, New Jersey State Senator, 12th district, Jennifer Beck (R) won a bitterly fought race against Democratic Party candidate Ellen Karcher, in which Beck was outspent by a seven-to-one margin.
In California’s 1994 U.S. Senate race, Michael Huffington dwarfed Dianne Feinstein’s outlay by 2 to 1 by dumping $ 30 million on a sustained media blitz, but lost the election. Recently in California, Senate hopeful, Carly Fiorina spent big and lost. Furthermore, gubernatorial contender, Meg Whitman, blew $160 million in contrast to Jerry Brown’s $27 million only to throw in the political towel and head back to her desk in the private sector. So one can see that “big bucks” are not necessarily the answer.
After the Bongino campaign reported raising third quarter funding of $52K from dedicated individuals, Cardin magnanimously claimed in an Associated Press release through the Daily Record that more than 1,300 people had donated to his campaign and that nearly 80 percent of them were from Maryland. One would assume from the context of the article that those numbers represent the contributions comprising the $ 700K. Now, yes, a politician should be “humbled” by significant monetary support especially if they are part of his home state; and in observing the disparity between the funding totals one could easily take on a brazen attitude of superiority by way of financial strength. However, in view of our look at big money’s failures and always keeping in mind the old story of David and Goliath, a wise move would be to analyze the contribution figures in which Cardin is so confident.
First, The Center for Responsive Politics reports that overall, Ben Cardin’s donors have been the big money interests. Only 1% of his nearly $ 3 million in contributions from 2007 – 2011 have been from average wage earning, middle America. 35% came from Political Action Committees & 46% came from large individual donors. http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/summary.php?cid=N00001955
The required FEC Form 3, Report of Receipts and Disbursements filed 19 April 2011 with the Secretary of the Senate shows Substantial contributions from out of State with many from as far away as California and Arizona.
The October 2011 3rd Quarter FEC report recap shows $ 246,000 donated by political action committees, $ 413,000 in itemized donations from those inappropriately described as “Individuals/persons other than PACs”, and then a paltry $ 39,000 from unitemized contibutors. When one studies the long list of itemized contributions, it is obvious that they are the predominantly the big money group comprised of businesses such as the Real Estate industry, law firms, The medical interests, financial institutions, and investment companies.
However, after carefully scrutinizing and recording data on the 224 pages of actual FEC filed contribution receipts, I found these startling results:
Total donors: 579 worth $707,093.00
Source $ Amount % of total # of donors
Maryland businesses and PACs 155,287 22.0% 137
Maryland residents less than $251 8,955 1.3% 52
Maryland residents $ 251 – $5000 51,122 7.2% 48
Out of state PACs and business 491,729 69.5% 342
Significant Contributions came from 8 states with Washington, D.C. chipping in the most at $ 130,859. In addition, from the approximately 14 states participating, the average contribution was $ 40,097 from each state.
Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with gathering out of state funding, but this data proves that Ben Cardin is the long entrenched candidate of big money, special interests, and political action committees. It also sheds a dubious light on his claim of 80% of contributors are Maryland residents. Moreover, the presumptuous notion that Daniel Bongino cannot compete is considerably inappropriate. Not only because of our basic tenant that “money isn’t the answer”, but because Daniel Bongino has done remarkably well in garnering financial support in view of his starting completely from scratch in June of 2011 in stark contrast to career politician, Ben Cardin, who has had 44 years to establish his special interest monolith and formidable money machine.
In conclusion, I believe the biggest concern is the fact that because Cardin does not truly represent the majority of everyday middle-class Maryland residents and steadfastly adheres to the failed policies of the Obama administration, Maryland needs a major leadership change. And that move should be with Daniel Bongino, the fresh new Republican voice with diligence, intelligence, and integrity that will represent the people of Maryland, not the special interest groups and far too many out-of-state supporters.
Jerry Clifford, the Word Guru
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