This is just a quick look at the 13th congressional district, between incumbent Democrat Allyson Schwartz and Republican challenger Raj Bhakta. This is a lopsided race, especially considering that the has changed hands between parties within the last decade. A real GOP contender would be cause for some alarm, but, happy day for her, that isn't the case this time around.
On one hand we have Rep. Schwartz who is known for her fundraising abilities. Living up to her reputation she has, as of April 26, $1,331,222, 81% of it coming from individuals, 60% from in state. While some of her recent votes (bankruptcy, eminent domain, and so on) have disturbed the progressive netroots, she has a solid reputation.
One the other hand we have Raj Bhakta, who has, as of April 26, $78,806 on hand, 99% of it from individuals, 88% of it from out of state. In addition to confessing to 2 DUI's, he has decided to run his campaign as a reality show. On the news section of his website he includes this statement:
Right now, the former star of The Apprentice 2 is hiring between 50 and 100 young people to work for his campaign this summer. He will pay them a weekly stipend and provide housing for them. Heading into the fall campaign, he will select a smaller, undetermined number of those aides to stay on the payroll. If he wins, he’ll hire the three best campaign workers for his congressional staff. (from Northeast Times 5/04/06)
I don't know that this method would provide better staffers than some of the party hacks I've encountered in congressional offices but it would surely provide far worse than some of the truly dedicated staff I've encountered.
However, considering that Bhakta is probably not the most serious opponent that Rep. Schwartz could have, her recent email to supporters including the following passage is suprising:
But here in the 13th Congressional District, the Republican establishment has cleared the primary field for my opponent. Today they will nominate a candidate who has made clear his unyielding support of the failed policies of President Bush. In his eagerness to gain favor with the Republican right wing, he told the Washington Post, "I am VERY HAPPY with the second term agenda."
The Republicans are hoping to win this seat back and they are using any means necessary to ensure their success. But you can help me prepare for whatever they throw at me.
She asked for contributions. The $1.3 million she is sitting on is, at present, a war chest. It's certainly not being spent on her campaign website which remains primarily a place for contributions. There is very little content. Compare it to her congressional site (see link on her name above). If she doesn't intend to spend any of it on her own campaign, perhaps she would be willing to share the wealth among fellow Democrats challenging incumbent Repulicans, who, with proper funding, have a good chance of winning (hint, hint, hint) or any of the state level races being run in her district.
Just a thought.
[Update: taking the advice of one of the comments on this post I looked at the expenditure column on Schwartz's Open Secrets page. In 2005 she donated over $40,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. In 2006 she did donate $2000 to Lois Murphy. There are similar donations to Bob Casey and a number of candidates in ohter states, and smaller donations to Philly area groups. I would still like to see donations to other individual candidates in the area. These may be filtered through the DCCC but, honestly, I don't trust them very much.]
Sources: Opensecrets (http://www.opensecrets.org/races/summary.asp?cycle=2006&id=PA13)