Lost amid the hoopla over the Citizens United news yesterday was a small item about the kind of fundraising that does, and should, matter: Steve Bullock is sitting on a nest egg of campaign cash that is almost seven times greater than that of his opponent. Bullock has $776,000 in the bank, while his feeble Republican challenger, Rick Hill, has only $118,000
It’s not surprising given that Hill has just emerged from a bruising primary, in which he was assailed by his opponents has having “too much baggage.” He was accused, specifically, of:
- having dodged the Vietnam draft
- having enriched himself with state contracts, from his stint as a congressman
- having cashed in on his wife’s influence when she worked in the Governor’s office
- having screwed up the state work comp system
- having been the victim of a ponzi scheme,
- having been an insurance executive, and
- having porked a cocktail waitress while he was married
That’s quite a resume. Hill had to spend down his war chest to combat these attacks, while Bullock had no meaningful primary challenge at all. This has left Hill at a massive disadvantage as we enter the upcoming general election season. Mind you, this is not corporate money; these are the hard-earned, smaller contributions that candidate’s raise by themselves, in increments from $5 to $600.
Some big, unregulated, out-of-state money will no doubt make its way into this race, more easily now that our sacred campaign corruption laws have been struck down by the five ignoramuses who call themselves “conservative justices.”
But one wonders whether the national GOP, and other national groups with fat corporate wallets, might not simply walk away from the Montana governor’s race, viewing it as an impossible project to rehabilitate a weak and battered candidate who is nearly broke. Outside groups with large war chests have fifty states in which to spend money. They rarely waste their time on candidates who do not do a good job raising money of their own. It’s usually a bad bet.