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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

American Crossroads and the Future

Tom Hamburger and Matea Gold write in the LA Times:

Now the talk among Democratic lawmakers and their campaign advisors is how to create "our own Crossroads," a reference to two tax-exempt groups established in part by GOP strategist Karl Rove.

"I can sympathize with them, but I have no sympathy for them," said Carl Forti, political director for American Crossroads, a "super PAC" that discloses its donors, and Crossroads GPS, a nonprofit social welfare organization that accepts anonymous contributions.

Crossroads raised more than $70 million in 2010, but campaign finance lawyer Michael E. Toner, who advised several Republican presidential campaigns, anticipates that the two groups will spend more than $200 million in the next campaign cycle.

Democrats who vigorously protested the role played by independent campaigns now agree their party needs to compete better. Earlier in the decade, Democrats were pioneers in using these groups. This year, Republicans enjoyed a 2-1 advantage in outside spending.

"You're going to see a response on the Democratic side by allied groups and others to respond in kind," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, who was chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for 2010. "It seems like everybody wants to form their own [independent group] these days. I think it's a terrible new world. But I don't believe in unilateral disarmament either."

They don't have much time to gear up. Many GOP allies such as the Chamber of Commerce, Crossroad GPS and Americans for Prosperity already are planning to launch issue advertising and grass-roots campaigns in 2011.

"We are looking for opportunities," said Forti, who said part of the Crossroads group's aim would be to concentrate on issues next year that could undermine Democrats facing reelection in 2012.

The issue ads, which cannot explicitly call for the election or defeat of a candidate, are in part an effort by the groups to show that their work is not predominantly political, a requirement to maintain their tax-exempt status. But their push on issues such as tax cuts and deficit spending — two issues Crossroads plans to focus on — likely will heighten polarization around those debates and lay the groundwork for the 2012 battle.