AIPAC intervening in the Democratic primary...Bloomberg's hiring causing its own crisis
This Democratic primary for president is being defined by big money in a way that distinguishes it from every other past election, giving it a few extra layers of unpredictability. With Akela Lacy, I reported this afternoon that the anti-Sanders super PAC running ads against Bernie in Nevada -- the same one that ran similar ads in Iowa -- is being funded by AIPAC, the increasingly Republican pro-Israel lobby. The way AIPAC is funding it is by telling donors that any contributions they make to the super PAC (called DMFI, or Democratic Majority for Israel) can count as donations to AIPAC. This news comes after it was leaked last night that the group Emily’s List was involved with a super PAC that had a Sanders attack ad in the conception stage.
(That the ad leaked is fascinating, and suggests there are a lot of Sanders-backing young people holed away in jobs across the political spectrum, happy to do the kind of work Emily’s List does -- electing pro-choice women Democrats -- but they draw a line when it comes to attacking Sanders.)
On the big money front, I posted a story yesterday that is worth reading and contemplating if you get a chance. It’s about how Bloomberg’s tsunami of campaign spending is having the unexpected consequence of starving other local, state, and federal candidates of the bodies they need to compete. It’s something Bloomberg is going to have to grapple with if he continues with his plan to hire so many thousands of people through November. The top of the story is a striking anecdote, which begins with the familiar scene of a mom shocked by Trump’s election springing to action, but ends with, well, I won’t spoil it:
Jennifer Leeper was on her last night of maternity leave with her second boy when Donald Trump was declared winner of the 2016 presidential election. When she recovered from shock, like millions of women across the nation, she decided she had to stop sitting on the political sidelines. She ran for a seat on the local Board of Education in Fairfield, Connecticut, and won. In 2018, Leeper threw herself into the 2018 midterms, helping a Democratic state Senate campaign.
Last November, a Connecticut state House seat opened up when the Republican incumbent announced her run for a new office. It was the kind of suburban district Democrats had been flipping across the country, and Leeper decided to take a shot at the special election, set for January 14, 2020.
She had the backing of a former Connecticut congressman and current senator, Chris Murphy, and a team of volunteers out knocking doors. Her campaign manager had just run a successful reelection campaign for the mayor of Bridgeport. He posted on Facebook in mid-November that Leeper’s race had real meaning for him, explaining that his family had lived in the district since 1962. “Nowhere is more ‘home’ to me than my story and this district. It’s personal,” he wrote. “And that’s why I believe in Jennifer Leeper and her vision for this place that we both love so much.”
With just three weeks until the election, however, he was back with a new status update. “I’m taking my talents to Madison, Wisconsin,” he posted on December 26. He had taken a job with billionaire Mike Bloomberg’s newly launched presidential campaign, which was offering lucrative salaries, as a deputy organizing director, it would later emerge.
Without a captain in the final weeks, Leeper’s campaign flagged. On Election Day, Leeper lost to her challenger by just 79 votes, and Republicans held on to the seat.
I haven’t written since New Hampshire, which means I didn’t get a chance to pat myself on the back for my story Monday which forecast that an independent group of student organizers could make the difference for Sanders. They did, and that story is here.