Quarterly financial reports are often scoured and picked through again with a fine-tooth comb by researchers from all sides for any sort of irregularity. Obviously this week will bring a fresh look at the data provided by candidates to the Federal Election Commission for the most recent quarter which ended June 30.
For example, a nagging perception regarding Republicans in Maryland is that they won’t have enough money to compete. So when Senate candidate Eric Wargotz says he had, “fundraising numbers (which) show we have the resources we need to win the Republican Primary, and to then take on Senator Mikulski in November,” one may be inclined to look at his $600,000 cash on hand and agree. But naysayers will look and notice that much of that cash came as a result of $575,000 of campaign loans he made to himself. Aside from that, he’s raised about $180,000 from other people – a figure dwarfed by Barb Mikulski’s $1.85 million in individual contributions.
Yet Mikulski has also raised over $1 million in PAC money to build a campaign war chest of $2.9 million.
Thus, the Wargotz example can be looked at in one of two ways. Maybe he believes in himself and his message enough to invest a large part of his personal fortune into the race. But most people don’t come across as looking at things in such a Pollyannish way, so the second and more likely perception would be to dismissively conclude that Eric’s trying to buy himself a Senate seat.
If you follow that second argument, though, then it bears asking just who is trying to buy Mikulski’s seat on their behalf? To reprise the old saying, just follow the money. There are a lot of political heavy hitters who are making their investment in Mikulski just hoping she will help them achieve the big payoff when a favorable bill comes before her.
The same can be said for the First District seat that Frank Kratovil is defending against presumptive GOP challenger Andy Harris. For the cycle, Kratovil has outraised Harris $1.72 million to $1.35 million (and enjoys a $1.3 million to $900,000 cash-on-hand advantage) but over half of Frank’s war chest comes from political action committees. Out of Harris’s take, only about 1/6 is PAC money while individual contributions from all sources add up to over $1 million. Again, it needs to be asked just who is investing in Kratovil and to what end?
Suspicion about motives is as old as our republic but has accelerated greatly over the last few decades as government has grown more powerful. Should politics and government really be that way?