This plan started to fall apart when the primary field didn't clear for his easy nomination. The fight over a convention versus a primary was just the start. The lingering doubts about his votes to raise taxes have hindered his campaign and continue to be a distraction from his anointment as savior of the party. But the fundraising numbers are another hit to his campaign, showing that he's not the only one with the cash on hand to compete in a primary.
We're on the Robert Hurt bailout watch.
Hurt needs a bailout. He needs to be saved from his own failures. He's made mistakes, but rather than be responsible for them he's going to turn to the Republican Party establishment (the same folks who brought us the first Bush bailout) to save him.
I see two options.
First, he'll get the establishment to fold and find a graceful way for him to step out of the race. A defeat in the primary, which is a very real possibility, would doom all of Hurt's future ambitions. He'd almost certainly never be able to come back for a run for Congress. Other statewide offices will be ruled out. He'll be stuck in the State Senate forever.
The best way to fold is for the establishment to go to Virgil Goode, apologize for their attempts to push Goode out in favor of Hurt last year, and get Goode to run. Hurt would bow out in support of Goode and spend more time with his family. Goode would unite the party and go on to clobber Perriello. Game, set, match.
Unless they can get Goode to jump in, I don't see a way for Hurt to fold.
If they can't fold, they'll have to double down their bets on Hurt. Go all in.
This will mean more funneling of corporate and lobbyist money into Hurt's campaign. He needs a major cash infusion and it doesn't matter where it is from. With the cap on maximum contributions, look for Hurt's campaign to try new and desperate tactics. Perhaps LaCivita will pioneer the use of "independent" corporate ads in the post-Citizens United era. Let's not forget his reaction to the case.
Another observer of those adventurous companies will be Chris LaCivita, the conservative consultant who produced the Swift Boat Veterans ads that damaged Democrat John Kerry's 2004 presidential bid.
LaCivita said the 2008 campaign was bad for independent groups. The FEC had penalized Swift Boat Veterans, the Sierra Club and some other big players from the 2004 race. It got the attention of potential donors — corporations and wealthy individuals. So when LaCivita's group, the American Issues Project, went looking for money in 2008, many donors were reluctant to write checks.
"There were some committed Americans who wanted to communicate a message — you know, threats from the government be damned, they were still going to be involved," LaCivita said. "But at the end of the day, we were only able to accomplish a tiny portion, budget-wise, of what we originally set out to do."
He said he expects the court decision to ease donors' minds.
And as he spoke, he sounded like a kid who'd opened his Christmas presents and gotten just what he wanted.
How long until some of Hurt's big donors are running ads in the Republican primary defending him? I have nothing wrong with corporations expressing free speech, just like George Soros is free to give money to Tommy Boy. But when Soros does it we know who really owns Tommy's vote. So let's not pretend that Hurt is anything but a tool of the big corporations that depend on Washington for bailout money when the corporations pick up the slack to give him the nomination.