Meet “Independent” (err Republican) Brandon Bell of Roanoke (photo adjacent). He’s running against another Republican, Ralph Smith. By 2011 “standards,” Bell is now called a “moderate.” It wasn’t so long ago he wasn’t. He really is a pragmatic conservative, who once in a great while votes with Dems.
While we have bonafide Democrats running for office in other districts right now, this week Sen. Dick Saslaw (D) gave Brandon Bell $202,500. With all the resulting hell Ralph Smith is raising (calling Bell a “liberal”), and using Saslaw’s donation as “proof,” Saslaw probably assured a Smith win. However, even if Bell wins, he has publicly stated he will not caucus with Dems. What’s up with Saslaw then?
Why throw this large sum away? Does Saslaw really believe Bell will be more helpful than, say, Sen. John Edwards from nearby District 21? Thanks to significant gerrymandering, and better funding of Edwards’ opponent by the GOP, Edwards is in a real contest. But Saslaw gave Sen John Edwards less. Take a look at how different it is on the other side of the aisle, where Edwards’ opponent, Dave Nutter gets some real support:
Nutter received $321,206 from the Senate Republican Caucus and state GOP during the month, while Edwards received $150,748 in Democratic funds. Nutter had a cash balance of $196,835 on Oct. 26. Edwards had $64,309 on hand.
Just this AM Mary Margaret Whipple emailed Democrats requesting more money for the Caucus to dispense to Democratic Senate candidates. Sorry, Sen. Whipple. The Senate Caucus is not making good decisions with donor money. My precious non-deep pockets cannot afford you. They especially cannot afford Dick Saslaw’s bad decision-making.
I now donate directly to candidates, not to the Senate or House Caucus (or relatedly the DNC, DSCC or DCCC). We all have internet service. If, after donating to our Virginia races, we happen to have spare change, we can find worthy candidates in other states via their websites (you know, like Elizabeth Warren). In fact I have been doing that for some time. Why let them make bad decisions with OUR money.
Additionally, why are the whole cast of Democratic “stars” so stingy? The GOP is throwing money at their candidates while ours struggle.
While we are at it, why isn’t the Senate Democratic Caucus grooming/mentoring candidates to run. Instead few incumbent Republicans have real contests. This too is a job for the Caucus, as well as other Democratic incumbents in Richmond. Until our state leaders fund candidates and help prepare/mentor them, we will not have all races ably contested.
For those who would like to bypass the Senate caucus, you can donate to Senator John Edwards at his website.