While the nation deliberates what a Republican Senate means for gridlock in Washington, the specialty’s political action committee has a more pragmatic objective: Counting the number of investments that paid off in wins.
RADPAC’s bets in this mid-term election were spot-on, with a few exceptions: the PAC supported 112 House general election races for a 92% success rate; and 11 Senate general election races for a 92% success rate.
In the realm of independent expenditures (IE), which have accounted for a growing percentage of RADPAC’s war chest in recent election cycles, the success rate was 80%, but the wins carry more weight in dollars than the general election contributions, which are limited to $5,000. There is no limit on the amount of an IE contributions.
“The outlier for us this year versus the previous year is we did fewer total races with our IEs, but nearly doubled the amount,” said Ted Burnes, director, RADPAC, via email. In 2012, RADPAC invested in 16 races and spent $650,000 in IEs with a 69% win rate. This year, the PAC spent $1.1 million in IEs on 12 races for 10 candidates (including two primary and 10 general election races), for an 83% success rate with the concession today of Ed Gillespie in his failure to unseat Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), who recieved $50,290.13 from RADPAC.
It was in the IE category that the radiology had some of its most strategic wins based on leadership positions. The campaigns of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who won a tough reelection campaign to become the presumed House Majority Leader in the Senate, received $108,277.88; Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), also in a tight race, received $96,874.08; and Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), chair of the House Energy & Commerce Committee who fought off a challenger flush with PAC money, received $97,044.84.
Burnes minimized RADPAC’s wins in the legislative races, saying they were “more like singles and doubles than home runs,” but called the IE wins “highly visible” and “very impactful.” In a session at the RBMA meeting last month, Burnes predicted that Republicans would take the majority of seats in the Senate, with limited impact on the balance of power in Washington.
The President’s veto powers will limit the impact of the Republican majority, but Burnes does predict modest improvement in the Congressional impasse of recent months. “I believe that while the Republicans will stay true to ideological positions on issues, they still will work to get some things done,” he said. “They have learned from past mistakes, and Sen. McConnell is a natural dealmaker.”
Nonetheless, the 2016 elections will be a limiting factor in progress on major issues in 2015. “It will be challenging, because there are twice as many Republican's up for re-election in the Senate than Democrats in 2016, so that weighs in on ‘tough issues/votes’,” he said. “Dealing with 3 Republicans in the Senate (Sens. Paul, Rubio and Cruz) with national ambitions might make it tougher to get all on the same page.”