Tuesday, February 7, 2023

PAC Man Adventures, or, The Mandela Effect

Wisconsin Democrat Mandela Barnes almost toppled GOP Sen. Ron Johnson in November, but his complaints were that the DNC and Michigan Dem Sen. Gary Peters and the DSCC abandoned him just short of the finish line. No more excuses, Barnes says, as he's creating a Super PAC to step in where the national Dems are leaving Black candidates like himself high and dry.


The backdrop: The Long Run PAC hopes to support women, people of color, LGBTQ, and working-class candidates across the country, Barnes told Axios, as they're most likely to face negative "assumptions" about their candidacy because they don't "fit the mold" that Democrats think can win in statewide, competitive races.The Long Run PAC is launching Tuesday and will announce an initial slate of candidates it will support later this summer.
"Too often, fairly or unfairly, the questions of ‘Can this person win?’ and ‘Does this person have what it takes?’ come up,” Barnes said in a phone interview.
“Sometimes those questions aren’t always asked in good faith,” he added.

Between the lines: Barnes refused to take donations from corporate PACs during his 2022 race, and after raising over $40 million from grassroots supporters, he said he wants to take the same approach with The Long Run PAC.“Our campaign was built by grassroots support and we’re going to lean on those supporters” and build “a people-powered national fundraising operation,” Barnes said.
He also plans to host events with and fundraisers for the candidates backed the PAC, and help campaigns with hiring and training.

Don't forget: Barnes' Wisconsin Senate race in 2022 was always going to be a challenge for Democrats, but the party and outside groups failed to invest in his campaign after Labor Day at the same rate as Republicans.Republicans outspent Democrats by $1.6 million in mid-September, with crime a main focus.
Exit polling found 49% of Wisconsin voters viewed Sen. Ron Johnson as too extreme, but nearly as many (46%) viewed Barnes the same way. Barnes ended up losing by a single percentage point.

Yes, but: The November election results showed that a historic barrier to Black representation in Congress — namely white voters refusing to support African-American candidates — is rapidly declining, Axios' Josh Kraushaar reports.
Of the 60 Black lawmakers elected to Congress this year, 30 now represent states or districts with a plurality of white voters, according to an Axios analysis. In 2014, only eight (of 43) elected Black lawmakers were from plurality-white states or districts.



This is a good idea, and the $40 million Barnes raised for his own race proved he can fundraise for a project this big. The concept is sound and badly needed. There were Black/LGBTQ+/Latino candidates that the Dems left out in the cold in 2022, namely Barnes, Cheri Beasley in NC, and Charles Booker in KY.

Money doesn't always help. Beasley outraised now GOP Sen. Ted Budd by 2.5 times and she still lost handily. On the other hand, Rand Paul raised $27 million to Charles Booker's $7 million and was crushed. Would money have helped? Probably not.  Barnes himself outraised Ron Johnson $41 to $36 million and still lost.

Dems don't always lose on race of the candidate issues, as Josh Kraushaar is actually right for once. Remember here in KY. Amy McGrath outraised Mitch McConnell in 2020 $94 million to $71 million and she got stomped by a nearly identical 14-point margin then as Booker did in 2022. Money, being a white woman, and being an Air Force veteran pilot didn't help her one bit.
Having said all that, I absolutely want to see Barnes succeed here, because there are races where money could have helped, especially at the House level.

We'll see.

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