I don’t always chuckle at campaign emails. I get about a zillion a day, so usually I just glance at them, make sure there’s nothing relevant I need and hit the delete button.
But one that caught my eye early last week came from Florida U.S. senator and possible Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio.
The message praised Martinez for believing in the American dream and fighting here in New Mexico to keep that dream alive.
I suppose there are some folks out there for whom that would have been enough to start reaching for the old checkbook.
But Rubio continued: “Susana is facing a fundraising deadline and your contribution will help her catch up to her opponents, who have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money into their campaigns.”
Susana needs to catch up?
According to the latest round of reports last month, Martinez had more than $4.2 million in the bank. Her closest Democratic opponent, Alan Webber, had just more than 10 percent of that, $439,914 cash on hand. (For the record, Lawrence Rael had $228,767, Gary King had $89,177, Howie Morales had $46,624, and Linda Lopez had $19,289.)
My first thought was that Rubio just didn’t have anything resembling a clue about what’s actually going on in New Mexico, or at least not with the gubernatorial campaign. He was correct that Webber and most of his primary rivals have contributed or loaned themselves a significant amount of money for their campaigns. But I doubt if even Webber is poised to pony up $4 million from his own bank account to catch up with Martinez’s campaign war chest.
But then I realized that most likely, Rubio himself had little to do with the actual contents of the email for Martinez. I suspect it was some staffer from his own campaign apparatus who writes dozens of these for Republican candidates all over the country. And one of the major motifs of these things is the underdog appeal.
Martinez certainly isn’t the only frontrunner with a huge cash advantage trying to come off as an underdog. U.S. Tom Udall for months has been doing this in his fundraiser emails.
“A new opponent with ties to Karl Rove — and deep pockets of his own — just announced he’s coming after me,” read an urgent plea from Udall in January right after Republican Allen Weh announced he was running for Udall’s seat. “In his last election, my new opponent spent $1.6 million of his own money to pay for his run. And if we’re going to fight back, I need all hands on deck …”
The message went on to explain the sinister shadow that Rove was about to cast over New Mexico:
“Karl Rove is the man behind the curtain at American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS — special interest groups that spent more than $174 million combined in the 2012 elections. That’s how the special interests work — they spend millions of dollars attacking people like me, hoping to get their allies elected. And their allies want the same dysfunction and gridlock we saw in the past few years to continue.”
A few things:
According to a quick check of the website OpenSecrets.org, Udall has raised $5.5 million for the Senate race. Weh has raised $413,965, while the other Republican contender, David Clements, has raised $60,242.
It’s true that Rove and one of his Crossroads committees did spend some bucks to make ads for Republican hopeful Heather Wilson in her 2012 campaign when that contest with Martin Heinrich looked like it was going to be more competitive than it turned out.
Public Policy Polling in March showed Udall beating either Republican by more than 20 percentage points. National pundits long ago declared that Udall’s seat is safe seat.
Still, as recently as as April 30, Udall was warning about the Rove boogieman: “The Republican National Committee has its hopes pinned on a GOP takeover of the Senate this year, and it’s working hand-in-glove with special interest bigwigs like Karl Rove and the Koch brothers to make it happen.”
The GOP does have good shot at taking over the Senate this year, but to do so, they won’t be spending their resources on long-shot races. Running from behind, it seems, is bipartisan.