Monday, October 17, 2005

Who's your (sugar) daddy?

If you can brush aside her nostalgia angle, Michelle Dyson offers a troubling glimpse of a post-2006 Maryland where patrons rule the land and we small-d democrats are merely gnats on the limosine windshield.

The Candidates' Show of Commercial Enterprise
By Michele Dyson
Washington Post
Sunday, October 16, 2005; Page B08

. . . In 1998, when Parris N. Glendening ran against Ellen R. Sauerbrey (R), each raised about $6 million -- a record at the time. Four years later, when Ehrlich ran against Democrat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, he raised $10.4 million and she about $8.5 million -- a new record. In those same elections, candidates for the Maryland General Assembly spent more than $28 million.

In 2004 the U.S. Senate election cost Democratic incumbent Barbara Mikulski's campaign $4 million and Republican E. J. Pipkin's $2.7 million -- again, a record.

The 2006 elections will blow all of these high-water marks away. With all the political races factored in -- national, state and local -- the $100 million threshold will be breached.

Two questions need asking here: Where will this tenth of a billion dollars in campaign cash come from, and how do the campaigns plan to spend it?" . . .

Read more
Of course there are more questions that "need asking." What kind of political debts will Maryland's office holders be saddled with? How will this level of financial indebtedness limit political access by us mere mortals? What do the fat cat patrons expect in exchange for $100 million?

Tens of millions is a lot of dough to contribute for a governor's job that pays only $135K (The Book of States, 2004). That kind of ratio puts any government official at risk of "an offer he can't refuse."

What's truly crazy about spending this kind of money on a small state's gubernatorial race--I'll bet the majority of the contributors do so to fend off taxation.

Think for a moment of the kinds of public benefit that $100 million in taxes would buy for Maryland. To these contributors I say: if you hate taxation so much, make a donation to charity instead.

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