Democrats Form SuperPACS For 2012
A: And as NPR's Peter Overby reports, they'll be soliciting contributions much bigger than the legal limit for the candidates themselves.
PETER OVERBY: Democratic operative Chris Harris says his side was amazed last year.
CHRIS HARRIS: Just amazed by how much Republican groups spent and how ill-prepared our side was.
OVERBY: American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS spent $39 million. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent 33 million; American Action Network, 26 million. That's well more than double the spending of the top three labor unions.
HARRIS: We sort of just sat on our hands and complained about it. And we all know that going forward we cannot do that again.
OVERBY: So here's the liberals' plan: Four groups not connected to the candidates or the Democratic Party, one group each for the House, Senate and presidential races, and group number four, called American Bridge 21st Century, founded by progressive media watchdog David Brock. Its mission is to set up a war room and, says Harris, do opposition research for the other groups.
HARRIS: You know, like different players on a baseball team.
OVERBY: As the liberal network takes shape, it also includes a few 501(c) tax-exempt organizations. The thing about 501(c)s is they don't have any contribution limits or disclosure requirements. So this is a race for serious money.
POERSCH: There are some early signs that Democrats are going to be able to have the resources they need in order to be successful.
OVERBY: That's J.B. Poersch, head of the new Senate campaign group Majority PAC. He won't say they'll match the GOP outside money groups dollar for dollar.
POERSCH: There are some special interests that Republicans have access to that we don't.
OVERBY: At the new House Majority PAC, Alixandria Lapp says that in 2010 House races, the conservative groups spent $21 million dollars, while...
ALIXANDRIA LAPP: The organization that preceded ours spent $6 million. So that's a pretty big gap. Our goal really is to just narrow that gap.
OVERBY: Last week, the House Majority PAC went on the radio in 10 congressional districts. This ad targets Republican freshman Ann Marie Buerkle of western New York. Last fall, her winning margin was barely 500 votes.
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OVERBY: Buerkle's plan threatens to end Medicare as we know it. That's right, end Medicare as we know it.
OVERBY: A strategist close to the planning says their first goal will be responding to Republican attacks as the Obama campaign ramps up. Political scientist John Geer of Vanderbilt University calls this a brave new world of politics as the outside money groups are set to flourish in both parties.
JOHN GEER: There are going to be a lot of outlandish ads out there. These third-party groups are not constrained by accountability in the same sense that the candidates are because their names are not on the ballot.
OVERBY: Jonathan Collegio is with American Crossroads, and he's enjoying the irony.
JONATHAN COLLEGIO: Now that both sides are doing it, it looks like both sides are going to do it with roughly equal efforts. It will be harder to politicize it.
OVERBY: Peter Overby, NPR News Washington.
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