National political action committees can build massive piles of campaign advertising cash in the wake of the Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court. The problem for politicians is that they can spend it where they like, and much of it is not spent on a national basis, but rather at the state and the congressional district level. And members of both parties are proving to be vulnerable to a PAC attack.
It’s nice when it happens to your opponent; but it’s nice for your opponent when it happens to you.
Political daily Roll Call notes that at the presidential level the amount these groups have to spend can be somewhat diluted; however, at the state or local level their ability to suddenly drop in large sums of money can be difficult for a local legislator to match.
The most likely candidates for a PAC attack are candidates already seen as vulnerable. Typical battleground areas are money magnets anyway, and the effect will only be magnified in this post-Citizens-United election year.
Making the situation for some politicians even more precarious is the fact that often the PACs jump in when the campaign is for a primary – they don’t always wait around for the general election to start spending.
RBR-TVBR observation: At the local level, if a candidate comes under PAC attack and doesn’t have defensive help from a rival PAC, the candidate is in trouble, and it pertains to candidates from both parties.
When the Citizens United ruling was issued, Democratic attempts to find a legislative band-aid to rein in spending were largely laughed off by Republicans. But as more and more Republicans become targets, we wonder if we might start seeing some bipartisan efforts to blunt the ruling.