How much time does a person running for the United States Senate have to devote to fundraising efforts? According to newly leaked strategy documents for Senate-hopeful Michelle Nunn, a whopping 80% of her campaign hours. Nunn, the Democratic candidate for a Georgia Senate seat this November, is expected to raise about $17 million to remain a viable contender.
The documents are a frightening reminder to American citizens about the extent to which cash rules democracy. As much as we’d like to pretend that candidates are spending time getting to know constituents and their concerns, as well as sharing their visions for the future of the country, the vast majority of campaign time is actually spent securing money from rich, private donors.
The strategy memos also get specific about the optimal ways for Nunn to fundraise. She is to contact donors who have already given $1,000 to ask for more money. Meanwhile, for people who have already given the maximum $5,200 donation, Nunn is to ask them to contribute to a separate “victory” fund that kicks back to the general fund of the Democrats.
Furthermore, Nunn is to primarily target eight groups of people to raise money:
- Known deep-pocketed Democratic donors
- Georgia CEOs and business execs
- Tech industry employees
- Trial lawyers
- Young professionals
- National Finance Committee
- Members of the LGBTQ community
- Jewish people
As for the majority of Georgia citizens who don’t happen to fit into any of these categories… well, it looks like they won’t be getting much face time with or attention from Nunn.
The good news is that in October, just one month before the election, she was advised to get out there and speak more to her potential constituents – dropping fundraising efforts to just 50% of her time. Through the first half of the year, Nunn has raised $9.2 million, falling just short of her previously established $9.5 million goal for June.
Money isn’t the only thing that stands in Nunn’s way of winning the race. As a Democrat in a firmly red state, Nunn has to find a way to crack through the Republican stronghold and convince voters to give her a chance. Although pundits believe it will be difficult to pull off, given Nunn’s well-known name and community respect, they also say she has the best chance a blue Senate candidate has seen in ages. Thus far, Nunn has stressed that she is a moderate who is willing to work with Republicans. She has also directed modest criticism toward President Barack Obama, a reviled figure in the state of Georgia.
Will Nunn’s chances be damaged by this leak? Probably a little – no one enjoys seeing how the sausage is made. At the same time, however, most voters will likely understand that this is how the system works and other candidates are utilizing similarly calculating schemes to stay competitive and won’t hold it against her too much.
In that sense, the leak is much more damaging to the credibility of our democracy. Seeing in writing just how much emphasis is placed on raising money is certainly alarming. It’s no wonder that elected officials care so much about the interests of rich people and businesses while voting on potential legislation – it’s the only way they can stay in office!