Why has this race for the position of U.S. Senator from Alabama garnered so much financial attention?
According to an OpenSecrets.org analysis, the Alabama Senate primary is the third most expensive contest of this election cycle so far in terms of super PAC spending.
“Super PACs, which can raise and spend unlimited money to influence political races, funneled more than $24.5 million into the election, paying for TV placement, digital ads and canvassing to support their preferred candidates — or go after opponents,” according to OpenSecrets’ Jimmy Cloutier. “Much of that outside spending benefited Britt and Brooks, who will compete in a runoff election on June 21 after finishing first and second in the primary, respectively.”
Why is this race so important as to be worth $24.5 million from organizations largely outside the state of Alabama?
Understand, this is not a race to determine which party controls the Senate in November. Alabama is as safely a Republican seat as there is (notwithstanding the blip that was Doug Jones).
The bigger issue for Republicans in November is regaining control of the Senate. There are 469 seats in the United States Congress (34 Senate seats and all 435 House seats) up for election on November 8. The Senate is currently split 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris providing the margin of the Democrat party majority. Of those Senate seats, 14 seats are held by Democrats and 20 Republican seats up for grabs this fall.
Wouldn’t this money that is being dumped in Alabama be better invested in a race where the outcome of the November election is in doubt? If you are a Republican, isn’t getting Georgia back into the ‘red’ a priority? Or beating freshman incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada? Or flipping Arizona? Preserving Pennsylvania?
How about North Carolina, or Wisconsin, or even New Hampshire, where incumbent Democrat Maggie Hassan is seen as vulnerable?
With all that is at stake for Republicans in the Senate in November, why is safely Republican Alabama the third-most-expensive seat in this election cycle?
After all, it’s not like there is a huge policy difference between Katie Britt and Mo Brooks. If you look at their official campaign websites and go to where each stand on key issues, its virtually identical: they are pro-life, support the military, are concerned about the national debt and the economy, support the 2nd Amendment, want to control immigration and the southern border … quite frankly, there isn’t a lot of difference.
Is anyone really concerned that either Britt or Brooks is going to go to Washington D.C. and not vote with the Republican majority? That one of them will get there and suddenly go Susan Collins or be the Republican version of Democrat Joe Manchin?
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) and outgoing Alabama Senator Richard Shelby steered more than $5.5 million from their leadership PACs to pro-Britt groups to bolster her campaign, according to OpenSecrets.org. Another super PAC, Alabama Conservative Fund, with cash from some of Alabama’s richest business executives (Harbert Management, ALGS, Capstone Real Estate), helped Britt in the primary with an additional $2.3 million in outside spending.
Brooks was backed by the Club for Growth, which is primarily focused on economic issues like free trade, free markets, and cutting taxes. Club for Growth's largest funders are the billionaires Jeff Yass and Richard Uihlein, who are listed as the second and sixth top donors to outside spending groups this cycle, having put $4.4 million into the race. Two groups affiliated with the organization, the Yass-funded School Freedom Fund and Courageous Conservatives, spent an additional $849,000 to boost Brooks.
In 1983, when campaign contributions were pocket change compared to the millions spent today, former Kansas Senator Bob Dole said, “When people contribute to political action committees, they expect something in return other than good government."
If this were a race with a real distinction, I’d understand it being one of the most expensive in the nation. But when it’s conservative Republican against conservative Republican?
This seems like a ridiculously expensive race that will have little, if any, impact on the balance of power in the Senate.
We know that money talks.
The question we have to ask ourselves is, what exactly is it saying?
Ray Melick is Editor-in-Chief of 1819 News. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to [email protected] .
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