Money makes a difference
This week marks a milestone in the young 2010 governor’s race. The year-end campaign fundraising disclosure forms are due. Because of mailing delays the reports will begin trickling in this week. I will review them over the week and report my analysis of what the results portend. However, it will not take a rocket scientist to figure out the winners and losers. The candidates with the most money raised will be the favorites to win in November.
Money is the mother’s milk of politics. You cannot win without it. There is a direct correlation between money and victory. In 90 percent of all races the candidate who spends the most money wins.
By law, campaign fundraising began on June 3, 2009, one year prior to the primaries. The first reporting period ended Dec. 31. The candidates have been dialing for dollars for seven months. We will see how they fared.
The maxim of money being the mother’s milk of politics has been around for decades. However, there is also another truism, money begets money. There are a good many deep pocket contributors awaiting the reports to see who the leaders are in the money chase. These contributors will get on the frontrunner’s bandwagon. These fundraising reports will more or less separate the wheat from the chaff because in politics money talks and everything else walks.
In 2006, all of the major races were decided by money. The Republican judicial candidates outspent their Democratic opponents over 2 to 1. Gov. Bob Riley outspent challenger Lucy Baxley by over 4 to 1. That disparity is hard to overcome.
Although it is sad but true, the days of one on one politicking, shaking hands and asking for someone’s vote are over. Nowadays you rarely meet a gubernatorial or congressional candidate. They are packaged and sold like a detergent or new car by slick television ads.
If someone came to me today and asked me to advise him or her on whether they should be a candidate for governor or congress, I would look at two traits. First, does that person have the dedication and tenacity to spend 8 to 10 hours per day on the phone begging for money. Gubernatorial and congressional candidates must be persistent salesmen and beggars and not take no for an answer.
Secondly, do they have an attractive appearance and smile. It would be a shame to raise tons of money and have it backfire because you bought ads that made people vote against you because you did not come across well on television.
In today’s politics, money is not only the mother’s milk of politics, it is everything.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His column appears weekly in 75 Alabama newspapers. Steve served 16 years in the State Legislature. He may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.