REGIONAL— With its newfound status as a congressional swing district, the battle for the Eighth District this fall is sure to attract millions of dollars from outside political action committees, …
REGIONAL— With its newfound status as a congressional swing district, the battle for the Eighth District this fall is sure to attract millions of dollars from outside political action committees, or super PACS, that hope to determine the outcome of the Nov. 6 general election.
Yet even this year’s DFL primary battle has attracted big money, primarily from a newly-formed super-PAC known as Progress Tomorrow, which has poured more than $150,000 into the primary contest, all of it in support of Crosby DFLer Joe Radinovich. Just over $120,000 has been used to finance an extensive direct mail campaign to likely DFL primary voters, while another $30,000 has gone to online advertising. Radinovich is one of only two candidates that the super PAC has supported since its founding on June 28. That's according to filings with the Federal Elections Commission.
Super PACs like Progress Tomorrow can spend unlimited amounts of money in support of candidates as long as they don’t coordinate their activities with the campaigns of candidates they support.
The Radinovich campaign denied any connection to the organization and decried the intrusion of outside money into the race. “Ending the corrosive influence of dark money in politics is a cornerstone of our campaign,” said Radinovich in a statement.
Radinovich has called for a constititional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which has further opened the floodgates to big money in political races. “That is precisely why I refuse corporate PAC contributions and have been endorsed by End Citizens United,” said Radinovich. “Unfortunately, this is not the first and probably not the last independent expenditure we’ll see in the Eighth.”
The motivations or political leanings of Progress Tomorrow aren’t clear, although the individuals behind the funding of the organization are generally considered centrist and pro-military. The group was founded on June 28 with reported funding from just two sources, both of them super PACs themselves. About $730,000 came from the group United Together, while the group Forward Not Back contributed $619,000.
Fox News CEO Rupert Murdoch is the largest single contributor to United Together, having donated $500,000 of the $1.35 million the group has reported raising this election cycle. Other major contributors include Chicago White Sox and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf and former Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan Selig.
Forward Not Back reported raising $1.576 million this cycle, most of it from principal owners of large Wall Street hedge and venture capital funds.
United Together also spent nearly a million dollars this year opposing Marie Newman, a progressive challenger to Mark Lipinski, a co-chair of the Blue Dogs caucus and one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress. Lipinski narrowly beat off Newman’s progressive challenge in his Illinois House district.
Forward Not Back was heavily involved in a New Mexico congressional race, pouring almost $300,000 into the race to back Albuquerque attorney Damon Martinez for an open congressional seat. The group also spent just under $20,000 to oppose former New Mexico Democratic Party Chair Debra Haaland, who was vying to become the first Native American woman elected to Congress. Despite the substantial expenditures in support of her opponent, Haaland easily won that race back in June and is widely-considered the favorite to win the seat.
The two super PACs appear to be affiliated with a coalition of eight organizations, that operate under the auspices of No Labels, an organization that supports centrist candidates on both sides of the aisle. According to The Hill, “No Labels is planning an aggressive effort to spend tens of millions of dollars to protect moderates in both parties from primary challenges, in an attempt to give incumbents incentives not to cater to the party grass roots who typically dominate primary contests.”
Independent Joe Lieberman and Jon Huntsman, a Republican and President Trump’s current ambassador to Russia, are the national leaders for the No Labels organization. Combined, the eight super PACs connected to No Labels have raised more than $9.8 million in itemized individual donations, primarily from five- and six-figure donors. No Labels is also affiliated with super PACs that back moderate Republicans and candidates who favor increased military spending.