With Democrats and Republicans alike still scratching their heads over why the Democratic National Committee spent so much time, energy and money on the Florida governor’s race only to lose badly, some are beginning to wonder if it wasn’t personal for Terry McAuliffe.
The DNC chairman’s father-in-law, Richard Swann, was Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill McBride’s campaign-finance chairman and McAuliffe was heavily involved in pushing McBride’s candidacy – even when the Tampa lawyer was virtually unknown and still battling to upset former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno in the primary, Florida’s Bradenton Herald reported today.
The Florida Democratic Party hauled in more than $15 million in the final weeks of the governor’s race, the paper reports – much of it from the national party – all in a fruitless effort to topple Gov. Jeb Bush, who won the race going away.
Now McAuliffe may lose his job. In the closing weeks of the campaign he declared the Florida governor his No. 1 target and boasted to the New York Times editorial board that “Jeb Bush is gone.”
A Miami Herald analysis found that the national Democratic Party and its committees sent $4.4 million in the unregulated, unlimited contributions known as “soft money” to their Florida affiliate between Sept. 6 and Oct. 30. National labor unions and lawyer groups, closely aligned with the party, poured in at least $2.9 million more during the same stretch.
The party’s $15.7 million soft-money fund-raising total during that final period was a record for Democrats in such a short period of time, even outpacing the state Republican Party, which pulled in $14.7 for the final period, reports the Bradenton Herald.
Despite the massive infusion of cash at the end, McBride still lost to Bush by 14 percentage points – a far more severe loss than any experts had anticipated.
Now many Democrats are second-guessing McAuliffe and suggesting the money might have been better spent in states such as Minnesota, Missouri and Georgia, where Democrats lost Senate seats.
“Obviously with the vision of 20/20 hindsight, it wasn’t a good investment,” Mitchell Berger, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer and leading national fundraiser for the Democratic Party, told the Bradenton Herald.
Referring to the narrow loss by Democratic Sen. Jean Carnahan that handed control of the Senate to the Republicans, Berger added: “A little bit of money would have gone a long way in Missouri.”