Merkley’s Direct Assault On Koch Brothers Money Trail A Blueprint For Dem Success In 2016?

Published On November 25, 2014 | By Bob Rowen |

CORRECTION: This story has been edited. The original draft had suggested that Monica Wehby had actually placed senatorial votes when in fact she was never in a position to. We apoligize for the error. 

In the aftermath of the election and the GOP wave that wrested control of the Senate away from the Democrats, the last few weeks have been filled with Wednesday morning quarterbacks and every other form of strategist conducting the post-mortem to look for answers that could lead to a different result in 2016 and beyond.

One of the few Democratic bright spots was the reelection of Oregon Democrat, Jeff Merkley. Merkley credits his success (he defeated his opponent by 18 points) to targeting the Koch Brothers. Said Merkley;

“It was a very deliberate decision to call out the Koch brothers directly.”

Other Democrats tried to do the same all across the country, but what set Merkley apart was his success in tying his opponent, Tea Party Republican Monica Wehby, not only to the money, but to her track record of supporting issues directly connected to Koch interests.

Calling out the Kochs to the vast majority Americans – those who are not political junkies of either stripe – evokes the same kind of “who cares” attitude as bringing up George Soros to a liberal. Everybody knows billionaires and corporations contribute to campaigns. It’s only when the money equates directly to an action that it begins to bother them. Short of that, most Americans don’t see the Koch brothers as the enemy. They are just business men trying to protect their businesses. And since many of those people still buy the fallacious argument that investors create jobs, they feel like their own interests are tied in as well.

A much stronger argument against the “Dark Money” is the darkness itself. People are much more concerned about an outside interest that an American business owner. Without disclosure, that money could just as easily be coming from China, Russia or even Al Qaeda and ISIS.

While Merkley was able to succeed by focusing attention on the outside money, that money more than made up for it in at least half a dozen other races. In a press conference after his win, Merkley said,

“I think we should be deeply troubled by the results of last night, where an agenda by and for billionaires – campaigns funded by out-of-state billionaires – had victories across our country.”

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Bob Rowen

A lifelong politics junkie with particular interests in privatization and other business and labor issues like minimum wage and immigration.Robert Rowen is also a writer of fiction.His first novel is called The Ballad of Llewellynn.

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