Politics

State Parties Struggling to Survive

February 18, 2014

For many state parties, the party may soon be over.

State party officials across the country say the explosion of money into super PACs, nonprofit groups and presidential campaigns has made fundraising more difficult. And some of those outside groups are starting to take over the traditional local roles state parties play, spending big on voter contact and outreach operations.

The effect is that candidates can be more beholden to national organizations or single-issue groups rather than state party leaders. That’s leading to a change in candidates and their beliefs and the issues that come up in elections and statehouses.

The GOP takeover of North Carolina in 2010 and 2012, for example, was bankrolled largely by the network founded by GOP megadonors Charles and David Koch and primarily directed through the nonprofit Americans For Prosperity. AFP’s former chairman, Art Pope, now serves as North Carolina budget director.

In Texas, two Democratic outside groups have essentially built a party organization outside the official Texas Democratic Party. Several Obama campaign veterans are running the group Battleground Texas as a field and turnout operation, while the Lone Star Project is doing opposition research and tracking against Republicans.

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