Why Money Can’t Buy you Live, or Votes
November 11, 2012

ST. LOUIS • What can you get for $6.6 million these days?
Not the Missouri governor’s office, as it turns out.

That’s how much Republican gubernatorial nominee Dave Spence spent from his personal fortune in his failed attempt to topple Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon in Tuesday’s election. For his trouble, Spence lost by a 12-point margin. His final personal tab: More than $5 per vote.

Spence’s expensive loss came on the heels of businessman John Brunner’s even more expensive one in Missouri’s August GOP primary for the U.S. Senate. After spending some $8 million of own money, Brunner — a political novice, like Spence — finished second to underfinanced Republican U.S. Rep. Todd Akin. Akin went on to lose the general election by almost 16 points to Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill Tuesday.

It’s been said that money is the lifeblood of politics, and McCaskill’s 4-to-1 campaign funding advantage over Akin certainly was a key factor in her victory last week.

But the fates of Spence, Brunner, and other inexperienced but wealthy candidates around the country once again show the limits of the almighty dollar against the multifaceted demands of politics. “People who are successful in life are the best people to have in office … because of their skill sets,” said Jeff Roe, a Kansas City-based Republican political consultant.

But as candidates, they often run into problems, Roe said, most of them self-inflicted. “They have to learn that their instincts aren’t always correct.”


Brunner went into the summer primaries expecting to spend millions of his own money, and did, only to find it wasn’t enough to overcome Akin’s years of local connection-building among rural conservatives who can sway a GOP primary.
“There is a real advantage to having been around and having met people who make local politics work,” said Republican political consultant John Hancock, who was a Brunner adviser. “This is a kind of political capital that is in some respects as important as money.”

Spence didn’t expect to spend what he did, but ended up doing it to “finish what I started” when outside money dried up — a development he blames on media distracted by Akin’s controversial Senate run.

“I did what I had to do,” Spence said of his personal spending. “I didn’t like it. It didn’t feel good.”

They join a perennial club in American politics: self-funding newbie politicians who hope their money will allow them to bypass the lower rungs of the political ladder and go right to the upper levels.

Sometimes it works. There’s a reason more than half the members of the U.S. Senate are millionaires.

When self-funded candidates with no political experience lose, said Roe, it’s often because of “how they are used to administering their businesses, and how that translates into a campaign.”
For a serious high-level campaign, they have to trade in the trusted partners and employees from their business lives for “those who practice the dark arts” — political consultants. And then, just as difficult, they have to listen to them.

Roe said successful businessmen can have a difficult time doing that, in part because of the big personalities common among entrepreneurs.

“They’re very competitive people. It takes a certain amount of self-confidence to do this,” said Roe. So once the inevitable frustration with the consultants sets in, “they sometimes they think, ‘I know how to do this better, anyway.’”

They often don’t.

“They want to see results. ‘How many (voting percentage) points can I get for how much money?’ It doesn’t work that way, but they think it does because that’s their experience,” said Roe. “I literally had a guy say once, ‘I want to spend how much it costs to win 51 percent. I don’t want to fund a landslide.’ It doesn’t work that way.”

Hancock said Brunner was never that naive about the magic that his money could work, and that he was a quick study in the new world of politics.

“He really took to it well,” said Hancock. “I know he thoroughly enjoyed the process of running for office. Not everyone does.”

Brunner couldn’t be reached for comment.

More: http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/political-fix/checkbook-politics-didn-t-work-out-for-top-tier-missouri/article_5291c216-5ece-51e7-9211-807ea539cc0d.html

All 114 Missouri Counties Designated Drought Disaster Areas
July 17, 2012

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon says the entire state has been designated a primary natural disaster area because of the 2012 drought.
That means farmers, cattlemen and others will have access to low-interest loans and other help from the Department of Agriculture.
“This designation can help livestock and crop farmers across the state who are suffering great losses because of the heat and lack of rain,” said Gov. Nixon, who is surveying damage at farms in Lewis, Atchison and Polk counties Tuesday. “We’re going to continue to stand with farmers during this ongoing disaster and afterward, to help with their recovery. This designation is another part of that process.”
82 Counties in Kansas have the same designation.
Almost the entire western third of Kansas is categorized as being in an extreme drought.
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback also started an extensive multi-day tour of counties hit hard by the long, dry spell. He was in Saline County on Tuesday.

Kansas Democrats Get New Director
December 21, 2011

The Kansas Democratic Party will have a new Executive Director for the election year 2012.
Kentucky political operative Jason Perkey has taken the job.
According to a news release from Democratic party Chairwoman Joan Wagnon, “Perkey will leave his position as a regional field director with the Kentucky Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign in Louisville, KY, to start as the KDP’s executive director on Jan. 3.

“Jason has a wealth of campaign experience, good management experience, and he is committed to the values of education, opportunity and responsibility that the Kansas Democratic Party holds dear,” said Wagnon,
“The energy he brings to Kansas will surely make a difference in the coming months.”

Perkey said he is happy to be coming to Kansas. “I am very excited to be leading an incredibly smart and talented team,” he said. “I am especially looking forward to unleashing the enthusiasm and energy of Democratic activists all over the state.”

In 2010, Perkey managed the campaign of Democrat David Yates who defeated incumbent Republican Doug Hawkins for the District 25 seat on the Louisville Metro Council. Perkey has also worked on presidential, gubernatorial, congressional and state legislative campaigns in Kentucky, Illinois and Virginia.”

NYT: Feds Begin Crackdown on Medical Marijuana
November 24, 2011

The New York Times reports  an intensifying federal crackdown on growers and sellers of state-authorized medical marijuana has badly shaken the billion-dollar industry, which has sprung up in California since voters approved medical use of the drug in 1996, and has highlighted the stark contradiction between federal and state policies.

Federal law classifies the possession and sale of marijuana as a serious crime and does not grant exceptions for medical use, so the programs adopted here, in 15 other states and in the District of Columbia exist in an odd legal limbo. While federal agencies have long targeted Californians who blatantly reap illegal profits in the name of medicine, or who smuggle marijuana across state lines, the Justice Department said in 2009 that it would not normally pursue groups providing marijuana to sick patients, in accordance with state laws.

But in the last several weeks, federal prosecutors have raided or threatened to seize the property of scores of growers and dispensaries in California that, in some cases, are regarded by local officials as law-abiding models. At the same time, the Internal Revenue Service has levied large, disputed tax charges against the state’s largest dispensary, threatening its ability to continue.

In a hint of the simmering federal-state tensions, Kamala D. Harris, the attorney general of California, described in pointed terms the Oct. 7 announcement by four United States attorneys of their tough new campaign against many dispensaries, which they called commercial operations that violate the intent of California law as well as federal statutes.

“It was a unilateral federal action, and it has only increased uncertainty about how Californians can legitimately comply with state law,” Ms. Harris said in an interview. Since federal authorities do not recognize that marijuana can serve medical ends, she said, “they are ill equipped to be the decision makers as to which providers are violating the law.”

But Ms. Harris also described the state’s regulations governing medical marijuana as “vague and chaotic,” and she is working with legislators for more consistency and stronger controls.

In Missouri, boosters of the effort to legalize marijuana for persons over 21 or to sanction medical marijuana have received permission to circulate petitions in the state in an effort to get the questions on a statewide ballot in 2012.

The growing federal pressure, industry leaders say, could force the dismantling of some of the cooperatives that provide marijuana to more than 750,000 Californians who have obtained doctor “recommendations” to treat everything from cancer-related nausea to pain and anxiety. Within a few years, hundreds of collectives, large and small, have deeply embedded themselves in the state, paying more than $100 million in sales taxes, joining local chambers of commerce and better business bureaus, even appearing on “adopt-a-highway” signs.

More: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/24/us/medical-marijuana-target-of-us-prosecutors.html

South Carolina Set to Move primary to Jan. 21, 2012, Expect Iowa and New Hampshire to Jump into Mid January
October 3, 2011


South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary will be held on Jan. 21 of next year, two GOP sources tell CNN.

South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Chad Connelly will formally announce the date later this morning.

The move is designed to put space between the South Carolina and Florida, which bucked national Republican Party rules last week and decided to hold their primary on Jan. 31.

The updated calendar is likely to push the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary even earlier into January as they seek to protect their role as the two leadoff contests in the presidential nominating process.

“Last Friday, a nine-person committee brought chaos to the 2012 calendar,” said South Carolina GOP Chairman Chad Connelly. “Today, South Carolina is making things right. South Carolina Republicans have a thirty year track record of picking the eventual Republican Presidential nominee. We will continue that historic tradition on January 21, 2012.”