October 21, 2009
How to win favor with the party during a primary
Political parties tend to adopt a neutral stance in primary races—unless, of course, there is a clear need to purge a wayward member and her heresy from the pure body of true believers. The party will be there to aid the eventual nominee in the general election.
That said, there may be a way for a candidate to influence the hearts and minds of those most likely to encourage their friends and supporters to vote in a primary: by sending cash.
The Hill published a story about the variety of ways current members of Congress are using their federal campaign accounts when running for state or other offices. Some are allowed to simply transfer the money to another campaign account, but state laws vary on this practice. Some have to get creative, like U.S. Reps. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) and Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), who are refunding money to donors in hopes of getting it sent right back to their gubernatorial campaigns.
Among the shrewdest moves, perhaps, is this one:
In Tennessee, gubernatorial candidate Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.) has sent $22,000 to the state Republican Caucus. He also sent smaller donations to four county Republican parties and Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), among several other House colleagues.
The article doesn't say which four county parties were the recipients, but one can reasonably assume that they include Shelby and Hamilton; Williamson is another likely target, I would think. And by giving to the Republican Caucus, Rep. Wamp is issuing a direct challenge to Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey for the title of "it's me vs. Haslam."