Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid‘s announcement he won’t run for reelection in 2016 lights up unexpected races for his leadership post and his Nevada seat, but its biggest impact might be the loss of one of the Democratic party’s most industrious and creative fundraisers. And in the post-Citizens United era, Reid has been a linchpin of the Democratic outside money strategy.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced his retirement in 2016 today. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
A constellation of big-spending outside groups that have been the biggest fundraisers and spenders on the Democratic side of the outside money equation are dotted with members of Reid’s circle of top advisers. For example, Senate Majority PAC, the super PAC that backs Democratic Senate candidates, lists Rebecca Lambe as its founder and top strategist — and she is often also described as Reid’s top political strategist and the architect of his 2010 victory. Another top Democratic outside group is Patriot Majority, perhaps the most prominent of the Democratic dark money groups, which is run by political operative Craig Varoga, a former communications director for Reid. Patriot Majority’s first big splash on the outside money scene was its defense of Reid in 2010, when it was still mainly a super PAC (most of the organization’s operations have now shifted to a more opaque 501(c)(4) arm) .
In the 2014 election, Senate Majority PAC was the top-spending super PAC, dropping $46.6 million on ads supporting Democratic candidates. And its operations were carried out in close — almost seamless — partnership with Patriot Majority. The two groups frequently coordinated attacks on Republican Senate candidates, and more than half-a-million dollars in Senate Majority salary costs were picked up by Patriot Majority. Reid’s own leadership PAC contributed $150,000 to Senate Majority PAC in 2014, and $255,000 to the super PAC in 2012.
Besides having his entourage thoroughly embedded at the top of the largest Democratic super PAC and the most prominent Democratic dark money group, Reid — as the top Dem in the Senate — gets to pick the leadership of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Democratic party’s arm for supporting Senate candidates. And he’s been an important part of the committee’s fundraising operation. His own campaign committee transferred to the DSCC $700,000 in the 2014 cycle, and another Reid-affiliated committee transferred an addition $197,000.
The good news for Democrats hoping that their big-money fundraising operations won’t be left without a tiller when Reid leaves is that his two most likely successors actually play a slightly larger role in transferring cash to the DSCC than he does.
The campaign committee of Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who Reid already has endorsed as his preferred replacement, gave the DSCC $1 million in 2014, and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) transferred just over $1 million through one of his joint fundraising committees.
SourceRuss Choma , https://www.opensecrets.org ,7th April, 2015