Is New York Senator Chuck Schumer running Democratic politics in North Carolina?
North Carolina Democratic State Senator Jeff Jackson believes so. He met with Schumer earlier this year to lay out his plan to run a barnstorming campaign with public events across the state only to have Schumer summarily dismiss it:
“Wrong answer,” Schumer said when confronted with Jackson’s grassroots strategy, according to the account of their conversation Jackson gave at UNC Charlotte. “We want you to spend the next 16 months in a windowless basement raising money and then we’re going to spend 80 percent of it on negative ads about Tillis.”
That was enough for Jackson, who disagreed with Schumer’s strategy but believed that he could not win without his support, to stay out of the race.
It appears that former state senator Cal Cunningham has no such scruples. Jackson observed that Cunningham has been ensconced in Schumer’s windowless basement since he entered the race last June:
“Yes,” Jackson said when asked if Cunningham has been in “a windowless basement” since announcing his candidacy. “He hasn’t held a public event. He didn’t have a kickoff. This is like month three. He goes to Democratic-party events if you follow him, right — places where they’re going to say, ‘And everybody, Cal Cunningham is here!’ And he gets to be like, ‘Hey!’”
Cunningham’s obedience has paid off handsomely so far. He had raised $721,756.90 as of June 30, according to second quarter fillings with the Federal Election Commission. While that amount is not spectacular for a US Senate race, it it dwarfs the $89,960.28 raised in the same period by state senator Erica Smith, his main rival for the nomination. Schumer’s hand can also be seen in where Cunningham’s money has come from. He raised $152,000 of his total from New York and he had more max donors ($2,800) from New York (51) than he had from North Carolina (47).
Of course, Schumer’s meddling has not gone unnoticed and Smith has lashed out against she sees as an attempt to “buy” the senate seat:
The special interest groups and big, wealthy donors out of New York are trying to buy this Senate seat, and it’s just shameful and it is embarrassing. I just worry about the people I serve in North Carolina. We don’t have the same demographics as New York, and this Senate seat is not for sale.
While Smith seems to have an uphill battle against Cunningham, her cause is not hopeless. Cunningham managed to lose the Democratic nomination for Senate in 2010 despite being backed by national Democrats and funded by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
However, Smith cannot count on Jeff Jackson’s support. Despite his stated distaste for how Schumer and Cunningham are running the senate race, Jackson has endorsed Cunningham.