A plagiarism scandal that drove Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.) to drop his reelection bid Thursday was a major blow to the Democratic Party, still intent on proving it can keep its majority in the Senate. It also constituted a major financial loss for Democrats who’d placed their bets on Walsh and saw them evaporate long before he could even reach the finish line.
Both parties were invested in the race, a heated battleground for the Senate midterm contest. But the Democratic Party went all out to defend Walsh, a vulnerable candidate who had been nominated to the seat barely six months ago when predecessor Max Baucus became the U.S. ambassador to China. Senate Democrats huddled to support Walsh, making leadership PACs the fresh appointee’s second largest contributing industry. 42 Senators — four out of five of Democrats in the upper chamber — gave to Walsh through their leadership PACs, for a total of $246,000.
The Democratic Party also enlisted its best and richest donors to bankroll Walsh’s campaign. Fred Eychaner, a Chicago-based media mogul who is the third biggest individual donor to outside groups this cycle, gave him $5,200, the maximum possible. Robert E. Rubin, the former Secretary of the Treasury, gave $2,600, and Lisa Blue-Baron, whose late husband Fred Baron was a Democratic operative famous forproviding expensive cover to the mistress of former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), gave $2,500. In another sign that Washington rainmakers expected Walsh to win, several lobbyists chipped in as well. Donald R. Pongrace of Akin, Gump et al, gave $5,200, while colleague Brian Arthur Pomper gave $2,500. Vester T. Hughes, Jr., of K&L Gates, gave $5,000, and Bert Carp, of Williams & Jensen, gave $2,600.
Still, Walsh raised considerably less than his opponent Daines. As of June 30, pre-plagiarism scandal, he’d pulled in about $2.8 million while his challenger had already passed the $5 million bar. But having spent a good chunk of it, he only had about $700,000 left in the bank. Like his political ambitions, the rest — more than $2 million in campaign expenditures– is history.