Politico reports that outside groups are vacuuming money that would have gone to state parties, and these groups are taking over voter contact, outreach, and other functions.
The effect is that candidates can be more beholden to national organizations or single-issue groups rather than state party leaders. That’s leading to a change in candidates and their beliefs and the issues that come up in elections and statehouses.
The GOP takeover of North Carolina in 2010 and 2012, for example, was bankrolled largely by the network founded by GOP megadonors Charles and David Koch and primarily directed through the nonprofit Americans For Prosperity. AFP’s former chairman, Art Pope, now serves as North Carolina budget director.
In Texas, two Democratic outside groups have essentially built a party organization outside the official Texas Democratic Party. Several Obama campaign veterans are running the group Battleground Texas as a field and turnout operation, while the Lone Star Project is doing opposition research and tracking against Republicans.
In New Jersey, labor groups funneled money into legislative elections through a group now called General Majority PAC, a free-spending outside group headed by a former top aide of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
In Wisconsin, it was labor money that drove recall fervor against Gov. Scott Walker and several GOP state senators in 2011. State Democratic officials were quietly hoping to negotiate with state Republicans — before ultimately backing the labor-driven recall efforts.