If Spencer Bachus loses, blame his Wall Street ties

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Alabama has its presidential primary today, but the more interesting race may be further down the ballot.

Today’s a day when the undercard bout featuring Spencer Bachus may provide more excitement that the marquee matchup.

NPR, Politico, Roll Call, and The Hill all ran stories today highlighting Bachus’s troubles, and the impact that a super PAC called Campaign for Primary Accountability is having on this race.

This race is still Bachus’s to lose, but if it’s even marginally close, it won’t be because he was outspent – when all is said and done, the incumbent lawmaker might have spent $1.6 million to win his primary in deep red Alabama. If the race is as close as many think it will be, it’ll be the result of voters’ desire to reject the Washington-Wall Street nexus of power that they see personified by Spencer Bachus. They, like all Americans, want someone looking out for Main Street, not Wall Street.

“Serving the banks” is not going over well with constituents.

Rep. Spencer Bachus won his 2010 primary with 76 percent of the vote and cruised to victory in the general facing no opponent. After his election, Bachus told the Birmingham News that his job as Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee would be to, “serve the banks.”

Now Bachus is under investigation for insider-trading, and coupled with his work “serving the banks” he’s potentially in hot water today.

Bachus is on the ropes on money-in-politics and ethics charges.

Even before the insider trading allegations hit the news, a February poll conducted by the Campaign for Primary Accountability found him vulnerable to attack on his Wall Street campaign contributions. While he led his underfunded Republican challenger by a wide margin, after hearing statements about his Wall Street contributions and support of the bank bailout, the gap between him and his opponent narrowed considerably.

The Campaign for Primary Accountability has used this messaging in a $190,000 spending spree against Bachus. “The money bought the TV ads, robo calls, emails, online advertising and direct mail,” according to an NPR story this morning. Television ad language also includes the insider trading charges: “Congressman Spencer Bachus is under investigation for profiting from his office. He has taken $3.7 million from the financial industry and passed a $700 billion bank bailout. So it’s no surprise that Bachus spent campaign cash to buy a leadership position.”

A second, smaller independent expenditure campaign by the Conservative Action Fund also highlights his ethical issues, reminding voters that “Congressman Bachus is under federal investigation for insider trading and using his public office for personal gain. This behavior is unethical and unacceptable.”

The race has featured a huge money imbalance with Bachus spending heavily.

According to Politico, “Bachus has outspent his opponent, state Sen. Scott Beason, 45-to-1, pumping more than $1.6 million into his reelection effort.” Bachus’s main opponent, State Senator Scott Beason had raised just $54,308 in his pre-primary filing with the FEC and had just over $17,000 cash on hand. The outside expenditures against Bachus largely don't make up for this spending disparity

Bachus is no fundraising slouch and has used his chairmanship to rake in money from Wall Street. For this election, Baucus has raised over $1.1M from Wall Street, a whopping 70% of his total contributions come from Wall Street and financial institutions, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. As the Birmingham News reported, since January 1, Bachus has been on “a serious spending spree for someone who has won re-election easily in past cycles.”

If it’s anywhere near close, it’ll be a lesson not just for Spencer Bachus or for Republican incumbents; it should send a message to all candidates of both major parties: voters want politicians to serve us, not Washington special interests.

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