DEMOCRAT SOFT SPOTS
Former senior Clinton aide Michael Lux and his faux-grassroots “Mainstreet USA” group will be launching on Wednesday its first major media play leading into the November elections. Mainstreet USA, an offshoot of “American Family Voices,” another Lux creation, is a nonprofit group set up to accept the millions of soft money donations that will be available to such “issue-oriented” groups under new campaign finance reform laws. It says its mission is to “help elect Democrats to office by doing independent activities including TV and radio issue advocacy advertising, Internet organizing and direct voter contact programs.”
Lux, a former senior staffer for the left-wing People for the American Way, has created several of these groups, which all share the same office space in Washington, D.C. Clinton cronies and CNN “Crossfire” hosts James Carville and Paul Begala have been actively involved in the shaping of the “Mainstreet” and “American Family Voices” messages and fundraising.
Lux has not been terribly forthcoming about how the group is getting funding. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees has stated that it donated almost $1 million to American Family Voices, which created anti-corporate and worker’s rights websites earlier this year. Other labor unions are believed to have underwritten some of Lux’s campaigns.
In the case of “Mainstreet USA,” Lux is not required to divulge who or what groups are funding its advertising splurge, although according to a Democratic National Committee staffer, party chairman Terry McAuliffe may have steered money Lux’s way from the AFL-CIO and several other unions. “McAuliffe and the DNC very much want Lux’s projects to succeed,” says the DNC staffer. “We can’t accept the soft money, so we might as well help set up groups outside the party system to press our ideas and issues.”
The 30-second “Mainstreet” ads are expected to run on cable television channels, including CNN, MSNBC and CNBC. Internally, CNN executives have met to decide if those ads can appear during shows on which Carville and Begala appear. A decision is pending (though we suspect we know what the answer will be).
The Republican National Committee is looking to pour an additional $500,000 into the campaign of New Hampshire Senate candidate John Sununu, this after polling in the past week that shows the GOPer down to Gov. Jeanne Shaheen by as many as four points. Sununu’s sinking numbers are still within the margin of error, making the race a dead heat, but the party is concerned that one of the candidates expected to retain a Senate seat for the Republicans could slip so soon after holding a six to eight point lead in the polls in late September.
“We have to fix this situation fast,” says an RNC staffer. “We can’t afford to be worrying about that seat in two weeks. We have other states to focus on: Missouri, Minnesota, South Dakota. Those are the ones this money should be spent, not a seat we are holding and had in hand.”
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