A Hipster Super PAC — Mayday PAC

Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!

A distress call about the amount of money in American politics is coming from an unlikely source — a Super PAC.

Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard Law School professor, and Mark McKinnon, a former political adviser and current consultant on HBO’s The Newsroom, founded the Maday PAC.

Here is Lessig’s launch video:

Mayday PAC Launch from lessig on Vimeo.

“Yes, we want to spend big money to end the influence of big money,” Lessig said in the video above. “Ironic, I get it. But embrace the irony.”

Mayday’s goal in the 2014 election is to “elect five members of Congress who support strong reforms of the way candidates fund elections” (according to the FAQ portion of their website).

They have raised over $7 million in kick-starter (or crowd-funded) style.

The Super PAC is supporting Jim Rubens (currently a State Senator in New Hampshire) in the Republican primary for the New Hampshire Senate seat, Walter Jones (a Republican representing North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District) for reelection, Carol Shea-Porter (Democrat) for reelection in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional district, Ruben Gallego (a former Democratic member of the Arizona House of Representatives) running for Arizona’s 7th congressional district and Staci Appel (a former Democratic Iowa Senator) running for the 3rd congressional district in Iowa.

Do these candidates stand a chance?

Rubens is a long shot, the Huffington Post has him polling at 4 percent, below three other candidates including the favorite Scott Brown. Even with a large portion of the electorate “undecided” it doesn’t seem likely that Rubens wins the nomination. However, things look better for Mayday when you consider that incumbent Jeanne Shaheen is for the public funding of elections. Shaheen would be a clear favorite against Brown in a general election (Huffington Post says she has an eight point lead over Brown).

Congressional polling is a lot more tricky, and I don’t have as much confidence in these numbers as I would with state-wide polling. Regardless, I’ll still try to find the best information available on each of these races.

Jones faced a tough primary challenge against Taylor Griffin. Jones ended up winning the primary by five points and will be challenged by Democrat Marshall Adame. Jones has been in Congress for 19 years and is in a solid red district. The incumbent cruised to 20-plus point victories in the last two elections and seems to be in good shape to keep his seat.

Shea-Porter has an obvious rival: Frank Guinta. Shea-Porter was elected to Congress in 2006, but Guinta beat her and won the seat in 2010. The Mayday-backed Democrat then regained her seat in 2012. They could face each other in a third round in 2014, but Guinta faces primary challengers including Dan Innis. In a very competitive district, this race seems like it could go either way.

Gallego is running for long-time Congressman Ed Pastor’s seat in the house. This is a tight Democratic primary between Gallego and Mary Rose Wilcox — but the winner of the primary will probably be heading to Washington (the district is strongly blue). This is the district where Cesar Chavez (the politician formally known as Scott Fistler) tried to run in the heavily latino district (he was removed from the ballot) — the Colbert Report covered this story (EDIT: I tried to embed the video but it doesn’t seem to work, follow the link if you’d like to see it).

If forced to make a prediction for Arizona 7, I’d lean towards Gallego winning and the Mayday PAC having another ally in D.C.

Appel is facing David Young for a spot representing Iowa’s 3rd district. Appel ran unopposed in the Democratic primary and Young ran in a very tight six-way Republican primary, which was decided by convention since no candidate got over 35 percent of the vote. The district has seen tight races in 2012 and 2010 and is seen as a toss-up. I haven’t seen any nonpartisan polling done on this race so money (especially from PACS) could make a big difference.

Mayday PAC’s plan becomes much more ambitious in 2016. From their website: “If successful, the PAC will organize a much larger intervention in 2016, with the objective of electing a majority of Congress that has either cosponsored, or pledged to support, fundamental reform of the way elections are funded.”

Even with five allies in Congress, and I think it’s unlikely that they will win all five races, they would likely need over 50 house seats and a dozen senate seats. This would take much more funding and seems unlikely to occur that quickly.

Mayday then would take the onerous path of enacting a bill. How does a bill become a law? I have the song for you!

Think that’s enough? Not for the Super PAC, they would then want to amend the Constitution. This makes sense as a goal, a Constitutional amendment is the surest way that the courts would not overturn these laws, but it isn’t the most practical path for the PAC.

If Mayday PAC has enough friends on the Senate (the body that confirms Presidential appointees to the Supreme Court), then campaign finance can become a major issue and, perhaps, the group can shift the balance of the high court before passing such a law.


~ by realfactsandbeer on August 11, 2014.

3 Responses to “A Hipster Super PAC — Mayday PAC”

  1. What is the current status of this Super PAC?

    • The PAC is still at large and is gearing up for the 2014 election day (and the New Hampshire Republican primary on September 9). Mayday.us (the official website) claims to have raised $7,839,825 from 55,216 contributors.

  2. […] the Mayday Super PAC, which I referred to as the Hipster Super PAC: They didn’t have a great […]

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