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Carter Wrenn on Art Pope & "pay to play"

Here's Carter Wrenn's take on the crowning of Art Pope as Gov.-elect Pat McCrory's budget chief. This from Friday's post in the Talking About Politics blog he shares with Gary Pearce:

Wrenn: Same old political story

Carter Wrenn says 527s are the latest chapter in "an old story."

The longtime Republican political consultant says that attempts to keep major donors from influencing campaigns have just led to new ways of soliciting money.

After Watergate, Congress passed campaign finance reform that limited direct contributions to candidates, so donors began giving to political action committees. Then money went to segregated funds run by the national parties. 

Now, it goes to so-called 527 organizations, which can't explicitly call for the defeat of candidates, but can run ads attacking their positions or their records, but cannot coordinate with opponents' campaigns.

Wrenn said the legal restrictions on coordination are much looser than they used to be. When he ran the Congressional Club, he had to take care not to hire the same pollsters or consultants as Ronald Reagan, whose candidacy he was promoting.

Despite the ban on coordination, independent ads are often closely in sync with campaigns.

"You have people who have come out of the same political school, so they tend to look at things the same way," Wrenn said. "Still, you always sort of suspect that maybe in the back rooms in the dead of night there's a little bit of communication going on."

Edwards sings the money blues?

Carter Wrenn thinks money will matter more than manpower.

In a post on the Talking About Politics blog, the Republican consultant says that John Edwards' inability to raise more money than U.S. Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will be the end of his presidential campaign.

Edwards is in a tough spot. He lacks the money to compete. He’s losing ground. And there is very little he can do but wait and pray the other candidates’ mistakes will breathe new life into his campaign.

Wrenn says that Edwards' boast of having more "feet on the ground" — or volunteers — is "a sure sign his campaign is on life support."

Money matters

How big a hill are the Republican candidates for governor going to have to climb in 2008?

Carter Wrenn, in his Talking about Politics blog, says the Democratic candidates already have a huge financial advantage over their Republican counterparts. Wrenn notes that the two Democratic candidates have raised $8.4 million, compared to less than $500,000, combined, for the three Republicans.

The contrast is even starker when you look at the cash on hand in the campaigns: The Democrats enjoy a thirty-three to one advantage. 

This leaves Republicans facing a harsh reality: Unless one of our candidates writes his campaign a check for, say, ten million dollars, our chances of winning the governor's race are all but nonexistent.

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