Ten of the consulting firms that formed the core of the push to elect Mitt Romney — reaping a combined $1 billion in the process — have survived a tea party assault and are again among the highest-grossing and best-positioned players in Republican politics.
The firms and their consultants have been paid more than $19.6 million for 2014 campaign work through January, according to a POLITICO analysis. They’ve also cemented relationships with some of the GOP’s rising stars, setting up the firms for even bigger paydays headed into the fall, when costly advertising and mail campaigns begin, and for a 2016 presidential campaign expected to be the most expensive in history.
It’s both vindication for top Republican operatives — who were ridiculed by tea partiers for squandering hundreds of millions of dollars and blamed for blowing the party’s chances at capturing the White House and the Senate — and an illustration of the irreversible privatization of politics…
Few in the consulting world on either side of the aisle dispute that a certain amount of cronyism — or, at least, inertia — plays some role in determining who gets which contracts. The National Republican Senatorial Committee in November went so far as cut off a firm that was dong business with a tea party group challenging GOP incumbents. And both parties’ congressional campaign arms have close relationships with certain firms, which tend to have an advantage in winning work with individual campaigns.
Likewise, consultants affiliated with their party’s most recent presidential nominee tend to have an inside track for work from their respective national parties and supportive super PACs and nonprofits. Consultants who worked on President Barack Obama’s campaigns are pre-eminent in Democratic politics, just as those with links to Romney enjoy strong ties with the RNC.
Of course, the Romney consultants have fewer connections to tea party favorites like Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, so if either senator wins the 2016 Republican nomination, it could crown an entirely new set of operatives, much as Obama’s victories reordered the Democratic consulting world.
This is why I’m not nearly as optimistic as some about Republican prospects for retaking the Senate this year. If GOP candidates continue to rely on the advice of these perennial losers who gave us the Romney campaign, a campaign whose lethargy was matched only by its incoherence, how can we possibly expect a different result in 2014? Isn’t that the textbook definition of insanity? These people aren’t experts; they’re leeches who suck the life, energy, and fidelity out of every campaign they come in contact with. Here’s something to consider when you receive those inevitable fundraising letters from the NRC, NRCC, NRSC, and any other establishment Republican entity: If you send them money, it will end up in the hands of the above mentioned parasites. I have a much better alternative.