Money Money Money Makes Chuck Schumer's World Go Round

Picture Chuck Schumer playing either Liza Minnelli or Joel Grey in this 1972 film, released while he was still in law school, earning a law degree he never used once, going straight into vacuuming up money from special interests to finance his grubby political career. And now, he's demanding that other Democrats do the same-- or else. In 2006 Schumer was a loyal Harry Reid henchman and ran the DSCC. One race I remember well was when he recruited a pointless party hack, John Morrison, a Wall Street puppet then serving as Montana state auditor. Progressives were all in on state Senate president Jon Tester who ran a populist campaign and cursed out Schumer, who proclaimed he was too liberal to win in Montana, daily. Despite all Schumer's efforts and sabotage-- including demanding all institutional money go to Morrison--Tester beat Morrison/Schumer overwhelmingly, 60.77% to 35.48%. Tester then went on to prove Schumer wrong in November by beating Republican incumbent Conrad Burns 199,845 (49.16%) to 196,283 (48.29%). Schumer was certain Tester would lose for two reasons:

1- Schumer hates progressives with all his being
2- Burns outspent Tester, $9,167,154 to $5,587,467

That easily describes Schumer's perspective in every Senate race since then. He recruits conservatives to and tells them the only thing that matters is money. He's often wrong, but being wrong has never stopped Chuck Schumer. Yesterday, writing for the National Review, Jack Crowe reported that Schumer has been up to his old tricks in North Carolina, working to make sure a conservative lackey gets the nomination in case an anti-Trump wave is big enough to take out Republican incumbent Thom Tillis. Ideas, character and values have no place in Schumerian electoral calculus-- just national trends and money for mass media. It's like he's still living in the era Cabaret won its 8 Oscars (Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Original Song, Best Art Direction and Best Sound. The Godfather won Best Picture, not a dishonorable loss. A leaked tape shows that Schumer, wrote Crowe, "has taken a heavy-handed, top-down approach to selecting Democrats to challenge vulnerable Senate Republicans this cycle, putting his thumb on the scale for candidates willing to shun grassroots outreach in favor of a smile-and-dial, fundraising-first approach."

In the recording, taken during a September 26 talk at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, North Carolina state senator Jeff Jackson describes the experience of courting Schumer while he was considering running for the Democratic nomination to challenge the state’s incumbent Republican senator, Thom Tillis, in 2020.

Jackson had grand ambitions: When he flew to Washington to meet with Schumer earlier this year, he told the minority leader that he was going to do “100 town halls in 100 days” and talk to as many North Carolinians as possible to get a feel for the electorate’s priorities. But Schumer, who had previously dispatched his staff to meet with Jackson at his home, had other plans.

“Wrong answer,” Schumer said when confronted with Jackson’s grassroots strategy, according to the account of their conversation Jackson gave at UNC Charlotte. “We want you to spend the next 16 months in a windowless basement raising money and then we’re going to spend 80 percent of it on negative ads about Tillis.”

Jackson explained that, while he didn’t technically require Schumer’s support to run, the minority leader’s control over the funds disbursed by major donors and the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), made running without his support an impossibility.

  “So, did I need his permission to run for that race? No,” Jackson said during his address at UNC Charlotte. “But talking to my family and seeing the opportunity we have-- sort of the obligation we have to try and take the majority to end gerrymandering in 2020-- and realizing that I probably wasn’t going to have the support of this group, which is important financially because I ain’t rich... I mean, they kind of tipped the scales in favor of not running.”

And if the lack of funding wasn’t enough, Jackson said he was turned off by Schumer’s insistence on running an entirely negative campaign against the incumbent, Tillis-- a preference that Jackson attributed to “artistic differences” between himself and the minority leader during his UNC talk.

Instead of Jackson, Schumer and national Democrats are throwing their considerable support behind Cal Cunningham, a former state legislator and Army veteran who, in apparent accordance with Schumer’s wishes, has given just three interviews since announcing his candidacy in June. Reached for comment, Cunningham’s spokesman denied that the candidate has eschewed public appearances and grassroots activism in favor of fundraising.

...A copy of Cunningham’s campaign schedule obtained by National Review lists 18 appearances at various barbecues, galas, and church services from August 10 to September 29. During his remarks at UNC, Jackson dismissed these appearances as meaningless window-dressing compared to the town halls he’d planned for his own campaign.

“Yes,” Jackson said when asked if Cunningham has been in “a windowless basement” since announcing his candidacy. “He hasn’t held a public event. He didn’t have a kickoff. This is like month three. He goes to Democratic-party events if you follow him, right-- places where they’re going to say, ‘And everybody, Cal Cunningham is here!’ And he gets to be like, ‘Hey!’” (Jackson did not respond to a request for comment, but announced his endorsement of Cunningham hours after he was contacted and learned of the existence of the audio recording.)

...Cunningham’s chief primary rival, state senator Erica Smith, who announced her candidacy roughly five months before him, has already taken note of the national party’s intrusion in the race.

“The special interest groups and big, wealthy donors out of New York are trying to buy this Senate seat, and it’s just shameful and it is embarrassing,” she told Crabtree. “I just worry about the people I serve in North Carolina. We don’t have the same demographics as New York, and this Senate seat is not for sale.”

Reached by phone, Smith lashed out at Schumer and the DSCC for being dishonest about their support for Cunningham, telling National Review that Schumer’s public and private stances on candidates were “diametrically opposed.” She claimed that shortly before she learned Cunningham was fundraising off of the DSCC’s email list, Schumer had assured her that he had not endorsed any particular candidate and would remain agnostic for the time being.

Smith also pointed out that in addition to avoiding appearances, Cunningham appears to be avoiding public-policy commitments altogether. The only information or interactive features on his website concern donations.

“We can’t find his policy positions either,” Smith tweeted in August in response to a message one constituent wrote about the difficulty she’s had in identifying where Cunningham stands on any policy she cares about.

The same pattern, in which Democratic leadership handpicks a preferred candidate to run against a vulnerable Senate Republican, is also playing out in Maine and Iowa. [Jack Crowe appears to have forgotten Colorado, where Schumer has decided the Democratic nominee will be Frackenlooper and has demanded that unions directly their contributions to him and not to Andrew Romanoff, who many working people prefer by a very wide margin.]

In Maine, incumbent Republican senator Susan Collins is sure to face a tough reelection amid the liberal backlash to her support for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Schumer and the DSCC have made clear that their preferred candidate is state House speaker Sarah Gideon. Like Cunningham, Gideon has carefully avoided the spotlight and policy commitments. And like Cunningham, she’s benefited from her deference to Washington: She raised more than $1 million in the first ten days after she announced her candidacy in June, and she’s reaped the high-profile endorsements that follow from being taken under Schumer’s wing.

Like Cunningham’s opponent, Smith, Gideon’s opponent, Betsy Sweet, has taken notice.

“An open letter to Democratic leadership,” reads an August fundraising email from Sweet’s campaign. “How many times. How many times are you going to interfere with primary races by picking an opponent before the people do?”

Goal ThermometerIn Iowa, it’s Theresa Greenfield, a real-estate-development executive and first-time candidate, who has been chosen to follow the Schumer playbook. The DSCC endorsed Greenfield just three days after she announced her candidacy in June, shunning J. D. Scholten, who vaulted to national acclaim last year after nearly beating the racist Republican representative Steve King in the state’s fourth district.

“We don’t need a primary,” Schumer reportedly told Scholten on a phone call at the end of May.

Michael Franken is the best of the Iowa senatorial candidates-- but not Schumer's favorite. So Schumer is trying to destroy his campaign by telling donors to not give him any money and by working hard to get a candidate nominated who is only known for her own corruption, a candidate who can't win. "Iowans," said Franken, "are first-on-deck in choosing Presidential nominees, so we should be more than capable of picking the best U.S. Senate candidate, as well. I didn’t ask a party chief’s permission to serve my country for many decades and I shouldn’t need to ask permission to continue that record of service in the US Senate."

New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, a candidate for the empty U.S. Senate seat in her state, made a reputation for herself as a successful corruption fighter. That's a major turn-off for Schumer, who is more afraid of reformers than Dracula is of garlic. This morning Maggie told us that "The Washington establishment wants to keep big money in politics and keep progressive leaders out. That's not how democracy works. Voters-- not Chuck Schumer, not special interests, not corporations--choose their elected leaders. All the money in the world isn't enough to buy establishment leaders the bold vision and core values that voters want. I'm not running on big money or poll-tested talking points. I'm running to make sure every American has health care; to finally address the climate crisis; and to get big money out of politics once and for all."

The three billboards above-- in Colorado, Maine and North Carolina-- appear to be the work of the NRSC, even if they really look like they were designed and played by Little Chucky Schmucky. My dream for 2022: Schumer vs AOC. I pledge to max out.

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