Commenters in the Headlines thread are grumbling about this, no doubt remembering that (a) she’s been accused before by former aides of using campaign donations for personal expenses and (b) she did plenty of grumbling herself a few weeks before the election that the NRSC wasn’t spending enough to help her. Why didn’t she spend more to beat Coons?
Well, for one thing, she did spend a ton. The Politico story neglects to mention it but the $6.1 million she plowed into the race shattered the state record for expenditures on a Senate campaign by more than a million dollars and doubled the amount Coons spent. It’s not like she was holding back to maximize the leftover amount for her to live on after the election. Besides, there were other considerations to think about, which the Politico story does note:
O’Donnell spokesman Matthew Moran said O’Donnell was advised by her attorney to reserve “several hundred thousand dollars” for after Election Day to use for legal challenges resulting from her campaign — such as a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission filed by the state GOP during the primary and a criminal complaint filed with the U.S. attorney’s office in Delaware by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
The campaign was also holding on to money for “the inevitable FEC wrap-ups because we had so many small donors, etc.” that ongoing legal actions could drag on for “years,” Moran wrote in an e-mail to POLITICO. “Lastly, much of that money came in so late that we could not spend it effectively and would not recklessly put the campaign into debt … obviously, all checks that came in dated after the election were returned by Friends of Christine O’Donnell.”
O’Donnell’s FEC report shows that $1,966 in contributions came in to her campaign after Election Day.
I’m eager to hear from political consultants on this as I honestly have no idea whether this sounds plausible, implausible, or somewhere in between. A Twitter pal of mine, who’s a consultant himself but no fan of O’Donnell’s, insists that it’s not the hard number that’s important but the ratio between the money left over and the total amount raised. Twenty percent would be an unusual figure, he claims, but O’Donnell’s ratio isn’t that high — just shy of 13 percent, in fact. Given the legal challenges she’s facing, is that really so preposterous an amount? Besides, she doesn’t need the campaign money to live on: She just landed a deal to write a book which she hopes will, er, be “one of the [conservative] revolution’s catalysts.”
Here’s video of her appearance on GMA from a few days ago, in which she famously encouraged Hillary Clinton to challenge Obama. Sounds … unlikely. Exit question: Could the NRSC really have helped her? She spent a bundle and still lost by 16 points; meanwhile, the NRSC dumped millions on Carly Fiorina in California and lost there anyway. Some red candidates in deep blue states just aren’t going to win.