Zach Carter, senior political economy reporter at HuffPo, has an interesting post about a promising new strategy being deployed by Zephyr Teachout, a progressive Democratic candidate for New York’s 19th congressional district in the Hudson Valley.
Teachout is “cutting out the middleman” with a new ad that targets “vulture fund” billionaire Paul Singer, who wrote a check for a cool half-million dollars to a super PAC supporting John Faso, her Republican opponent. Teachout points out that contributions to her campaign average about $15. Go to this link to see the ad.
Carter explains Teachout’s strategy:
…When Singer signed on in May, Faso had the firepower to challenge Teachout in the general election.
On Monday, Teachout decided to bypass Faso himself and go after his donor. In a video posted to her Facebook account, she criticized Singer and challenged him to a debate.
“This is very serious,” Teachout says in the ad. “Paul Singer, I challenge you to come here and have a debate with me … I think the people of the 19th District deserve to hear your actual voice when you’re putting so much money into trying to buy up representation.”
Teachout is an academic corruption expert who is building her campaign message around curbing the influence of large corporations and money in politics. So highlighting Singer isn’t just an attempt to dismiss Faso as a tool of big money interests ― it also draws attention to Teachout’s strongest issue.
It’s an interesting strategy. For too long, Republican PAC sugar-daddies have escaped scrutiny and paid no penalty for lavishing big money on their candidates. By calling a lot of extra attention to Singer’s outsize contribution, Teachout is forcing him to pay a price in his diminished image, making his candidate, John Faso, look like a hedge-fund puppet and, if she wins, providing an impressive example that can help other progressive candidates who are willing to go after those who try to buy elections with large donations.
Opinion polls show overwhelming public support for curbing the influence of big money on American politics. Teachout’s strategy may provide a powerful new way to check the corruption of our democracy by fat cat money.