Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The trouble with self-funders

There's a strain of thought that parties really like to recruit and nominate self-funding candidates. After all, such candidates draw few precious party resources, allowing the party to allocate those resources elsewhere. The problem, of course, is that sometimes those self-funders get elected, and then they don't owe anyone anything.

This represents an important distinction between the needs of the party when campaigning and the needs of the party when governing. To maintain a governing coalition, sometimes individual desires must be quashed in service to the united front.

The Democratic united front on health reform took a beating recently at the hands of self-funding freshman U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulder):
Democratic leadership staffers scolded freshman chiefs of staff Monday for blindsiding House leaders with a letter protesting the tax on the wealthy designed to pay for President Obama's healthcare overhaul.

"They said that letters like this don't help anybody," said a freshman Democratic aide.

A bare majority of the Democratic freshman class, 21 of 39, signed the letter circulated by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) opposing their leadership's plan to raise taxes to finance a healthcare overhaul. Another signer, Rep. Paul Hodes (D-N.H.), is a second-term lawmaker.

It became one of the starkest signs of Democratic revolt against a healthcare bill that Pelosi had rolled out triumphantly days before...
Coloradopols has been all over this one:
Depending on what happens next, Polis' hamfisted 'contribution' to the debate could do more to scuttle health care reform this year than any Republican--a truly astonishing turn of events.
So, yeah, self-financers carry their own risks.

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