With only about six months to go until the 2018 midterm elections, End Citizens United continues to endorse candidates who have demonstrated their staunch support of campaign finance reform efforts. Founded in 2015 in response to the disastrous Citizens United vs. FEC Supreme Court decision of 2010, ECU seeks to overturn that decision and to otherwise support campaign finance reform efforts through a range of activities. In particular, the organization throws its support behind political candidates with track records for rejecting dark money and for voting in favor of measures that will stem the flow of this money into Washington, D.C. A lot is on the line for the upcoming midterm elections, and End Citizens United has officially endorsed dozens of candidates, including several who are vying to unseat Republican incumbents.
How did a political organization develop from a single Supreme Court case? ECU was developed in direct response to the 2010 Citizens United vs. FEC decision, which opened the floodgates for dark money to pour unrestricted into the coffers of political candidates who have been bought and paid for by special interests. Rather than represent their constituents, then, these candidates represent the interests of wealthy individuals and corporations that donate millions of dollars in support of their campaigns.
How End Citizens United Supports Pro-Reform Candidates
Due to the avalanche of dark money that now flows unabated into political candidates’ coffers, such candidates have an unfair advantage over those who prefer not to align themselves with big money and corporations. ECU seeks to level the playing field by raising funds through grassroots efforts and using these funds to support the election of pro-reform candidates. During the few years that it has existed, ECU has emerged as a powerful player in American politics. Candidates who are endorsed by ECU enjoy many advantages. They are connected with grassroots ECU members in their states and districts as well as with a national network of more than 400,000 small-dollar donors. With an average donation of just $14, the organization expects to raise upwards of $35 million for the 2018 election cycle.
Top ECU Endorsements for the 2018 Midterm Elections
Anyone who is concerned about the powerful influence of dark money on American politics should throw their support behind ECU and its efforts. The organization has endorsed dozens of incumbents and hopes to help them retain their respective seats in 2018. ECU has also endorsed a handful of candidates who will be actively challenging Republican incumbents in many crucial districts. Some highlights include the following:
- Beto O’Rourke – As one of only six House members to refuse contributions from PACs, Beto O’Rourke is a definite standout in the world of campaign finance reform. After representing Texas’s 16th Congressional District for nearly six years, O’Rourke is ready to unseat Senator Ted Cruz, who has long been owned by big money and special interests. In stark contrast to Cruz, O’Rourke supports legislation to reduce the power of big money; for example, he voted in favor of the Democracy for All amendment that would overturn Citizens United vs. FEC. The candidate holds the distinction of being the first challenger to be endorsed by ECU.
- Randy Bryce – Up until mid-April, Randy Bryce was seeking to do the impossible: unseat Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House and longtime senator of Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District. However, Ryan recently announced that he would not be seeking reelection and would be retiring to spend more time with his family. Bryce, an Army veteran and former union ironworker, still has his work cut out for him and is sure to benefit enormously from the ECU’s support. He will undoubtedly face a formidable opponent in November, but his campaign had already outraised Ryan’s by $1.75 million during the first quarter of 2018—and he relies on small-dollar donors who typically donate around $25 each.
- Jacky Rosen – Elected as U.S. Representative for Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District in 2016, Jacky Rosen is hoping to be elected to the U.S. Senate in the midterm election. Since being elected to office, Rosen helped to cosponsor the DISCLOSE Act of 2017, which sought to increase transparency in political spending. She also co-sponsored the Democracy for All Amendment, which sought to overturn Citizens United vs. FEC. Rosen is running against incumbent Dean Heller, a senator with a long track record of being bought and paid for by special interests. In fact, Heller voted against the DISCLOSE Act three times. During the last election cycle, around $8 million of the $87 million raised for the state senate raise came from dark money, and Rosen hopes that her election will prompt much-needed changes.
- Elissa Slotkin – A former CIA agent, Elissa Slotkin is vying for Michigan’s 8th Congressional District seat, which is currently held by Representative Mike Bishop. Bishop holds the not-so-great distinction of being listed on ECU’s Big Money 20 due to his long-running track record for supporting big money and special interests. Representative Bishop voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and he has voted against campaign finance reform bills time and time again. Because he is the incumbent, Slotkin faces an uphill battle. With support from End Citizens United, however, it is hoped that she will emerge victorious.
- Brendan Kelly – As State’s Attorney for Illinois’s St. Clair County, Brendan Kelly developed a track record for fighting back against corporations and special interests. In particular, Kelly regularly took on banks and pharmaceutical companies in support of the rights of everyday people. Kelly is also looking to unseat a member of End Citizen United’s Big Money 20, Congressman Mike Bost, who is best known for accepting more than $470,000 from Paul Ryan’s Congressional Leadership Fund Super PAC and for assuming anti-reform stances throughout his career.
- Andy Kim – Kim is among a few dozen candidates for Congress who have pledged not to accept any corporate or PAC money. A Rhodes Scholar and diplomat, Kim is vying for the 3rd Congressional District of New Jersey seat that is currently held by Tom MacArthur. MacArthur became a poster boy for special interests after authoring the disastrous TrumpCare bill. President Trump thanked him by throwing him a lavish fundraiser at one of his golf courses. Throughout his career, MacArthur has accepted nearly $1 million from corporate PACs.
The above candidates are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to End Citizens United’s official endorsements for the 2018 midterm elections. Dozens of others—many of whom are incumbents looking to retain their seats—enjoy the support of ECU too, and they are certain to benefit enormously from it. These candidates represent the country’s only hope of wresting control from corporations and special interests and returning it where it belongs: to the people.