Author: Deborah Montesano October 18, 2013 2:30 pm
The fundraising report for the third quarter of the year, which ended September 30th, shows the gains the Southern Democrats are making. In almost every case, Democrats out-raised their Republican counterparts. By a lot in some cases.
One of the most impressive showings is in the Kentucky race. Senator Mitch McConnell’s opponent, Southern Democrat Allison Lundergan Grimes, completed her first fundraising quarter. McConnell bragged that the third quarter was his best money-making one ever. But Lundergan Grimes outdid him, $2.5 million to about $2.27 million. Lundergan Grimes adviser Jonathan Hurst said money poured into her campaign from every state in the nation and every county in Kentucky.
The seat of Southern Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., was expected to be vulnerable to a takeover in 2014. But that’s not what the money’s saying. Landrieu raised almost $1.4 million last quarter. Her Republican challenger, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, brought in half as much. Then there’s North Carolina’s Senator Kay Hagan, who fared even better. She brought in $1.9 million, while her likely opponent, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, gained, oh, about $700,000.
Georgia’s Democratic candidate is a first-timer. Michelle Nunn, daughter of former Senator Sam Nunn, didn’t announce her candidacy until July 22nd. That was well into the third quarter, but Nunn didn’t waste any time. She raised $1.7 million by the end of September. The figure is more than twice what either of her top two GOP challengers received. Remember, this a Southern Democrat we’re talking about!
Even the Southern Democrats’ bad news is good news. Natalie Tennant, D-W.Va, raised a mere $150,000. GOP candidate Shelley Moore Capito received $778,000. However, Tennant’s total was from just two weeks. At that rate, if she had been fundraising for the whole quarter, her total would have been $900,000. She would have easily outpaced Capito.
The GOP’s strongest Southern showing for the quarter was in Arkansas. While the Republican candidate, U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, won bragging rights by out-raising the incumbent Democrat, Sen. Mark Pryor, the difference was less than $6,000. Basically, it was a draw.
Are Southern Democrats poised to take back the South?The news is enough to make one believe, or at least hope, that the Republican stranglehold on the South is about to break. There’s been a strong GOP push to keep the party’s boot on the region’s throat. The fact that Republicans have dominated Southern statehouses and legislatures resulted in intense gerrymandering. The result was supposed to guarantee safely conservative districts. Add that to the Supreme Court’s decision to gut the Voting Rights Act and future wins for Southern Democrats looked like an impossible dream.
However, a couple of significant movements have come to the rescue. One seems to be a spontaneous outpouring of support for any Southern Democrat who shows an ability to stand up to hardcore conservatives. Such is the case for Allison Lundergan Grimes as she opposes conservative Majority Leader. Given the GOP’s recent efforts to bleed the country for their own ill-conceived gain, Democrats might have success running any candidate who registers a pulse. But by showing the voters a candidate who is both dynamic and committed to serving the public, the whole picture for 2014 is rearranged.
The other effort is an organized one. A new political organization, the Southern Progress Fund (SPF) has cropped up. SPF was started in the summer by Mississippi’s former governor, Ronnie Musgrove. As an unincorporated organization, it can take in unlimited donations which can then be funneled to Southern Democratic candidates. In addition, it will work to counter the most destructive Republican efforts like voter suppression, mainly by registering new voters and getting them to the polls.
On its website, SPF makes a point that many Americans are starting to grasp: traditional Southern values are also Democratic values. ‘Standing together’ and ‘helping one another’ form the bedrock of the country’s character. Unfortunately for the GOP, its members just don’t get it.