Outside Money May Throw U.S. Senate Race


California is the land of extravagence. Iowa is the land of, well, corn fields. Yet an Iowa-based group is spending large chunks of money on a California election -- and could have a significant impact on who represents the Golden State in the Senate.

The American Future Fund, an Iowa-based group, has spent $1 million on a week's worth of ads attacking Republican senate candidate Tom Campbell. That's a small sum compared to the $250 million already spent in the governor's race. But in the Senate race, where Campbell, Carly Fiorina and Chuck DeVore are fighting for the Republican nomination, it could tip the scales.

The AFF is turning negative against Campbell for his recent proposal to temporarily raise gasoline taxes as part of the solution to California's budget crisis. 

The private political organization has a long history of spending money to attack candidates it deems too moderate.  It operates outside the public eye because state and national laws do not require the group to disclose its sources.  The ads lambaste Campbell for not being a "true" conservative.  Never mind that on two occasions Campbell was cited by one anti-tax group as the most fiscally conservative member of the House of Representatives.   

Compared to the Governor's race, $1 million is small change.  But given the relatively low amounts of money raised for the Republican Senate nomination to date, the infusion could have a big impact on the outcome of the primary race, sending Republican voters either to Fiorina or DeVore. 

Should that come to pass, it may well be that a private political group 1,500 miles away has more to say about the nomination than the state's voters.  Given California's long-standing reputation for overshadowing other states in just about all categories, such an outcome could be a reversal of fortune not only for Campbell but for the Republican party in California. 

It would also underscore the idea that money which typically flows freely from this state to other venues actually travels a two-way street.        

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