Rebecca Robbins at STAT:
In 26 years in Congress, Rep. Anna Eshoo has always won reelection by at least 20 points. The Democrat is virtually certain to win big once again in November, buoyed largely by voters in her wealthy Silicon Valley district who do not struggle to pay for their prescription drugs.
So why is a political action committee focused on high drug prices bothering to sink $500,000 into attack ads against her?
The ad blitz from Patients for Affordable Drugs highlights the unorthodox tack the group is taking in the 2018 midterm elections: intervening in races in which there is no hope of altering the outcome.
Of the nine congressional and gubernatorial races in which P4AD has supported or opposed candidates to date, just three or four are competitive, according to STAT’s analysis of election forecasts from the website FiveThirtyEight.
And of the at least $8 million the group has spent in total, as much as $6 million has gone to the races in which the outcome has long been determined.
P4AD, which is funded mainly by the billionaire Houston couple John and Laura Arnold, says that where its money can’t help decide a race, it can still send a message: that politicians running campaigns funded by drug companies will face retribution. But that, too, is a dubious strategy, experts say.
If the goal is to make politicians hesitate before accepting a check, “pharma’s not at the stage of the NRA,” said Bob Blendon, a Harvard professor who studies the politics of health care. “It’s going to be years before somebody runs in this state or that with a major biotech presence [and says] they’re not going to accept [drug industry] funding. I’m not sure it’s a realistic goal.”