“I’ve noticed that when female members run on the Republican side, Nancy Pelosi will spend a lot more money — in many cases twice as much more — to defeat Republican female candidates and incumbents.”
Politico buried that quote from Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) last week in its short story about GOP efforts to recruit women for 2020, led by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY).
Rachel Maddow, on the other hand, used it to publish a clickbait blog post: Pelosi bears responsibility for party’s lack of diversity. [No I won’t link to that damn headline.]
Because clickbait requires no research, just words primed to piss off your base (like diversity).
I hate what has become “political” reporting.
According to Maddow, Scalise also claimed that “Pelosi spent millions of dollars to ultimately take [Mia Love] out. And you can see that and a lot of these races, and I so I think we all need to be aware.”
At the same GOP event, however, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said that “the biggest challenge to increasing the ranks of GOP women has been in primaries.”
That mea culpa didn’t make its way into the Maddow slam. Nor did any rebuttals to Scalise.
Clearly the GOP has a problem: there are now 89 Democratic women in the House but only 13 Republican women, down from 23 in the prior Congress.
Let’s see if Scalise’s claims are true or false.
- Does Pelosi run a superPAC?
Not according to this March 2018 WaPost article:
The House Majority PAC (HMP) chair is Alixandria Lapp, a former DCCC official. The PAC has “close ties to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and is the Democrats’ main counterweight to Republican super PAC spending led by the Congressional Leadership Fund, Americans for Prosperity, Club for Growth Action and other independent GOP organs.”
- How many 2018 contests did GOP female candidates lose?
- Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) won her Senate race
- 30 Republicans lost re-election to Democrats in House contests but only six (20%) were districts where the GOP fielded a female candidate.
- CA 45: Mimi Walters lost to Katie Porter
- CA 48: Dana Rohrabacher lost to Harley Rouda
- GA 6: Karen Handel lost to Lucy McBath
- NY 22: Claudia Tenney lost to Anthony Brindisi
- UT 4: Mia Love lost to Ben McAdams
- VA 10: Barbara Comstock lost to Jennifer Wexton
- Republicans lost 13 open seats (two had been held by women); seven female candidates lost (54%). However, they held 28 open seats; only one featured a female candidate, Carol Miller in WV 3 (4%).
- AZ 2 – Lea Marquez Peterson lost to Ann Kirkpatrick
- CA 39 – Young Kim lost to Gil Cisneros
- CA 49 – Diane Harkey lost to Mike Levin
- FL 27 – Maria Elvira Salazar lost to Donna Shalala
- MI 11 – Lena Epstein lost to Haley Stevens
- NJ 2 – Seth Grossman lost to Jeff Van Drew
- NJ 11 – Jay Webber lost to Mikie Sherrill
- NM 2 – Yvette Herrell lost to Xochitl Torres Small
- PA 5 – Pearl Kim lost to Mary Gay Scanlon
- PA 6 – Greg McCauley lost to Chrissy Houlahan
- PA 7 – Marty Nothstein lost to Susan Wild
- SC 1 – Mark Sanford lost to Joe Cunningham
- WA 8 – Dino Rossi lost to Kim Schrier
Fact-check: the numbers don’t support the claim.
What are the details on Mia Love in 2018? Did a Democratic PAC “spend millions” to defeat her?
By invoking Speaker Pelosi’s name, Scalise is suggesting that outside money defeated Love. According to OpenSecrets, Ben McAdams (D) took in 71% of his contributions from in state donors.
However, Love raked in 86% of her campaign finance from out of state donors.
What about outside spending?
Love’s race saw the most outside spending, but that’s because both Democratic and Republican outside groups put money into that race at basically a 1-to-1 rate. The Democratic candidate, McAdams, saw outside opposition dollars exceed supporting dollars by 10-1.
The Scalise snivel was a case of the pot calling the kettle black: GOP outside organizations spent almost twice ($1.7 million) as much as Democratic ones ($983,000) to try, unsuccessfully, to defeat McAdams and re-elect Love.
Fact-check: pants on fire.
Moreover, the money spent on the Love race was nothing like the sums spent by both sides in California.
Here’s OpenSecrets on CA39: $6 million outlay from Republican outside groups and $5.1 million from Democratic-aligned groups.
Outside money was matched in CA45, FL27 and VA10.
It tipped Democratic in NY22. However, in CA48, outside Democratic groups overwhelmingly outspent GOP ones.
So yes, there was reason to point out Scalise had his pants on fire. But that’s not what Maddow did.