Mother Jones: Inside the Democrats’ Outside Money Machine

[Susan] McCue helped start Majority PAC, which has a single goal: preserving Democrats’ Senate majority. Along with her group, the Democrats’ outside spending strategy centers on three others: House Majority PAC, aimed at winning back the House; Priorities USA, devoted to reelecting President Obama; and American Bridge 21st Century, an opposition-research hub for the other outfits.

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What’s most striking about the Democrats’ 2012 outside spending strategy is the “unprecedented cooperation and cohesion,” as one strategist put it, the all-hands-on-deck attitude. In half a dozen recent interviews, the operatives behind these groups described a constant exchange of ideas and willingness to share resources as the organizations take shape. The day I met with McCue, for instance, her next appointment was lunch with Sean Sweeney, the ex-Obama administration aide who cofounded Priorities USA. “Most of us talk almost every day to each other,” says Monica Dixon, a veteran of Democratic PACs who serves as Majority PAC’s executive director. “We’re constantly looking for opportunities when we can share resources and eliminate overhead.”

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The last piece of the equation is American Bridge 21st Century, the brainchild of media guru David Brock. Brock is the founder of Media Matters for America, the liberal media watchdog that, in seven years, Brock has grown from a three-person shop to a $10-million-plus operation employing upwards of 90 researchers, trackers, and more. Now, Brock is looking to replicate that success in the arena of electoral politics.

American Bridge will serve as a clearinghouse of opposition research and candidate tracking that will feed information to the other three independent expenditure groups for use in TV ads, mailers, or other advertisements. It won’t look like your typical oppo research shop, said a Bridge official who requested anonymity to discuss early planning. Traditionally, an outside research firm would dig up everything it can find on a candidate and then hand over a thousand-page tome stuffed into a three-ring binder. Bridge officials, however, want “to make it a living, breathing operation,” says the official. That could mean publishing the group’s research and tracking on a standalone website, and maintaining constantly updated profiles of GOP candidates available to the public.

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