Criticizing "dark money" super PACs is a favorite talking point for many Democratic candidates, but super PACs are playing an increasingly important role in the Democratic Party, Politico reports.
In the last few years, PACs have taken over responsibility for large-scale campaign spending previously done by Democratic leadership, including television ad buys, digital advertising, and get out the vote efforts. Instead of going dormant in between presidential election cycles, Democratic super PACs are becoming full-time operations, staying open through midterms and off-years in an attempt to reach parity with the other side of the aisle, where Democrats were outspent 20-to-1 on online ads in 2016.
The support PACs can wrangle may be crucial for Democratic wins this cycle, but it puts some candidates in an awkward position. In an Ohio special election last month, Politico notes, Democrat Danny O'Connor, who lost the race, ran against corporate PAC funding and for campaign finance reform — while his campaign was bolstered by over $1 million in outside spending. Still, candidates like O'Connor may have plausible deniability, as coordination between PACs and campaigns is (in theory) illegal. Bonnie Kristian