But Republicans should not become too complacent. When a magician performs a sleight-of-hand trick, he keeps your attention on one of his hands while the other does the trick.
The McCain-Feingold legislation did not get "big money" out of politics, but it did change the flow. Now the "soft" money must be routed through entities such as Moveon.org and America Coming Together. These organizations steer the big bucks essential to the Democrats and provide the agitprop that keeps the base engaged (some might say "crazed"). This is one reason that the national Democrats often appear deranged when they speak--they are pandering to those who hold the purse strings.
The same is true of Republicans, but to a lesser degree--they do far better with the tightly regulated "hard money" than do the Democrats.
This suck-up goes one way. These Leftist groups see the Democrat leadership as wimpy sell-outs. If you go to www.moveon.org or www.dailykos.com, you'll find no pictures of prominent Democrats or reports on their activities. You will see a big emphasis on grassroots activities--recruitment appeals, local action plans, profiles of regular people in the trenches, etc.
So, while the Democrat leaders are flailing their arms and screaming (the hand you are supposed to watch), the Leftist groups with the money, propaganda and human resources are ignoring the national scene while focusing on municipalities and state legislatures (the hand you do not see).
I found an example of this new strategy of the Left in an organization called Progressive Majority, based in Washington, D.C. (www.progressivemajority.org). On their Web site, they stated, "In this political cycle, Progressive Majority will provide early seed money for promising progressive candidates running for local and state (non-federal) office." Note the pointed denial of support for anything national.
Will this think-national, act-local approach work? Well, it did here. Last October, true to its word, Progressive Majority contributed $5,000 to Tucsonans for Accountable Government, an "independent" campaign committee that ran negative ads against Republicans Kathleen Dunbar and Fred Ronstadt. Combine that with money from the Service Employees International Union and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), and you can generate a lot of ill will.
As of this writing, the home page of Progressive Majority features a photograph of Karin Uhlich (one of two "progressive" Democratic freshmen on the Tucson City Council) taken at the election night celebration at Club Congress. The caption reads, "... Karin's win is an important step for both the LGBT community and for progressives nationwide." (Emphasis added.)
So what does this mean for the Old Pueblo? One can only speculate. I suspect that our freshman council members are bigger ideologues than they would have us believe. Watch their hands closely, or they may perform some sleight of hand that takes your money, property and rights, and--"POOF"--makes them disappear.