by Ron Nehring, Washington Examiner
Elected officials aren’t just powerful for the offices they win. They are leaders of their own political enterprises, too. They have donors, volunteers, supporters, access to the news media and existing recognition from their previous campaigns. The existence of these enterprises helps make for high re-election rates among incumbents.
But when a party lacks a strong bench of elected officials ready to move up to statewide office, as is the case in states like California and New York today, the result is a tremendous institutional bias in favor of finding a “self-funding” candidate for governor and down-ticket statewide offices. The problem with this shortcut is that personal funds often become a substitute for the kind of political enterprise that wins elections.
Self-funding candidates who can tap into personal fortunes to bankroll their campaigns, or at least launch themselves originally, as Mitt Romney did in 2008, can be very appealing. Such candidates have usually succeeded earlier in the business world. People like the idea of a campaign that will have the resources necessary to reach large numbers of voters. And of course, consultants like the idea of invoices that get paid on time.
Yet there is a trap awaiting wealthy Republican candidates, and over the last decade Democrats have turned tearing these candidates down into a science. The latest to suffer from the plans in this playbook was Romney.