This week, the DSCC announced that it would pull the ad time in Louisiana that the organization had reserved for the Senate runoff, leaving incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu to her own devices against Republican challenger Bill Cassidy. After coming under withering criticism from fellow Democrats, the DSCC has reversed course … a little. The ad time is still canceled, but DSCC chair Sen. Michael Bennet announced late yesterday that the committee would organize a “money bomb” event for Landrieu’s campaign:
After getting criticism by Democrats for cancelling advertising reservations for the Dec. 6 Louisiana Senate runoff, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee says it is now raising funds for a “moneybomb” to support Sen.Mary Landrieu, D-La. …
Sen. Michael Benett, D-Colo., chair of the DSCC, said in an email to Democrats that the group will indeed be active in Louisiana. “Today, I’m joining with colleagues and allies around the country to give Mary’s team the resources they need for a 30-day dash to the finish,” Benett wrote. “Help us get out the vote in Louisiana — join our moneybomb and support Mary today… Mary’s spent her career reaching across the aisle to build coalitions and find solutions — we need her back in the Senate.”
Bennet may have been moved to get formally involved after two losing Democrats began to publicly organize to raise funds for Landrieu. Kay Hagan and Alison Lundergan Grimes began contacting their donors to get them involved in the Louisiana runoff, something that other Democrats thought the DSCC should have been doing all along:
Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes and Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) have sent fundraising e-mails on behalf of Landrieu, who has — for now, at least, — been effectively abandoned by her national party, which lost control of the Senate on Tuesday.
“Mary Landrieu is the type of leader that puts aside partisanship and works for people. We need people like her fighting for us in Washington – that’s why we need to stand with her to make sure she wins her runoff,” writes Grimes in a fundraising e-mail sent Friday.
The e-mail links to a donation page hosted by the liberal PAC ActBlue. “Join the nationwide moneybomb now and help raise $150,000 by Friday, November 7,” the page says.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee pulled back its ad reservation in Louisiana at a time when Landrieu can use all the help she can get against Rep. Bill Casdidy. Pre-election polls showed Cassidy has the upper hand heading into Dec. 6. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has vowed to support him as needed.
Bennet and the DSCC likely pulled the ad time because of a lack of funds. In the waning days of the campaign, the DSCC took out a $10 million loan in a futile attempt to head off the Republican wave. They also got a late cash infusion from the DNC of $1.5 million, with pledges of another $5 million by Tuesday. The DSCC had collected $6.5 million in the first two weeks of October alone.
And … no one put aside any cash for a Louisiana runoff? The runoff for Landrieu was a dead certainty; most also expected that Georgia would require a runoff to settle as well. Yet the DSCC appears to have ended up empty-handed on Wednesday. Where did the cash go? Did Bennet and his team ever plan ahead to remain competitive in Louisiana with the certainty of having a longer fight there to protect a Democratic incumbent, or in Georgia for a potential runoff to pick up a seat from the GOP? (The NRSC had put aside over $3 million for the runoff by September, while the DSCC planned to spend nearly $8 million before Election Day.) If all that money had saved two or three swing seats, then maybe Bennet could have explained that failure in strategic planning, but the DSCC failed to save almost every incumbent in a competitive race, excepting only Jeanne Shaheen and Mark Warner, whose race wasn’t supposed to be competitive in the first place.
Bennet, by the way, will have to defend his own seat in 2016 in a suddenly red-tilting Colorado. Perhaps Democrats might wonder whether the DSCC should spend a lot of time defending his seat if Bennet’s DSCC can’t plan ahead better than this.
Another reason the DSCC may have suddenly decided to get involved again is the outcome of leaving Landrieu to her own devices. A Twitter attack on Cassidy blew up in her face:
— Mary Landrieu (@MaryLandrieu) November 5, 2014
— Bill Cassidy, M.D. (@BillCassidy) November 6, 2014
Landrieu was so enamored of her hashtag campaign that she used her dwindling funds to make campaign signs out of the attack, even as it backfired on her. The hashtag itself appears to have more critics than supporters, and not many responses of either in any case. Nonetheless, Landrieu’s campaign also launched a Twitter account for the slogan, but Cassidy’s link reminds voters that he was on the ground helping people. Was Landrieu?
“We had no way to predict what people coming out of New Orleans were going to need. My physician group didn’t have emergency preparedness responsibilities, so we made a lot of this stuff up as we went along.
The old K Mart we were to use had been abandoned for about eight years. It was filthy. There was no electricity, no air conditioning and no windows.
We had doctors and nurses step up to design the facility. I asked my friend the insurance guy to be the volunteer coordinator because insurance guys always know everyone. Around 150 people from two churches showed up with mops and brooms to help clean. An electrician got the power up in 24 hours. We created four to five wards holding 30 cots each.
Trucks arrived with $5 million worth of medical supplies, but no packing lists were included. We had I.V. bags but no poles. We had cots but no crash cart. Our volunteers found EKG machines, printers–someone even got a new Honda delivered. Physicians showed up from as far away as Iowa. By the time patients arrived, we had beds, lights, generators, computers and volunteers to play with children, provide transportation and reconnect families.
We saw fatigue, dehydration, emotional trauma and illnesses like diabetes and asthma made worse by the patients’ experience. The shelters wouldn’t take newborns, so we took mamas and their babies. It was the most amazing thing. We never got the volume we braced for, but we were ready–in 26 hours.”
That’s a pretty amazing story, actually. Good of Landrieu to ask, but her runoff campaign is looking like even more of a clown show than her general-election effort.