Super PAC profile: Democratic governors play in presidential primary


DGA Action is a super PAC created by the Democratic Governors Association, but so far in this election cycle, all of its ads have been against Republican presidential candidates.

During January, the group placed a series of ads on Facebook and Google targeted to users in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida. Like bigger presidential super PACs, such as the pro-Mitt Romney Restore Our Future and the pro-Newt Gingrich Winning Our Future, DGA Action focused on the negative.  

Its ads opposed Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. No ads were placed opposing Newt Gingrich, but that could change according to Mark Giangreco, a spokesman for DGA Action. He said the group plans to continue its ad campaign. 

Giangreco said DGA Action is seizing “an opportunity to talk about the federal candidates … and communicate to small donors about a variety of issues." Translation: Democratic groups are taking advantage the political intensity generated in early primary states to build lists of active Democrats who might later be tapped for fundraising or campaigning, according veteran Republican strategist Dan Allen.

But based on the ad campaign so far, the effort does not appear likely to produce many immediate benefits for the Democratic governors. Of the three states where DGA Action has run ads this year, only one — New Hampshire — will be hosting a governor's race this fall. In the Granite State, the retirement of three-term Gov. John Lynch has created what The Cook Political Report rates as a wide-open contest. But in Florida and South Carolina, Republican Govs. Rick Scott and Nikki Haley, respectively, won't be up for re-election until 2014.

Does this mean the DGA believes President Obama needs additional help, despite the impressive amount of money he has already succeeded in raising? “You’ll never get a candidate that says, ‘stop contributing to my campaign,’ “ Giangreco said.

In a campaign finance disclosure filed with the Federal Election Commission, DGA Action showed receipts of $108,000 during the last quarter of 2011, most in contributions too small to require disclosure of the donors names with the FEC.  Of the $21,000 the group received in itemized contributions, 63 percent — or $13,000 — came from DGA Action's parent group, the Democratic Governors Association.

The DGA is a political nonprofit group, which files its disclosure reports with the IRS, not the FEC. According to its year-end reports, the DGA raised $8.5 million in the last six months of 2011, most of it in relatively modest-sized donations of $200-$300. But there were some larger donors: the SEIU labor union, for example, gave $25,000.