Tom Steyer isn't giving away his millions to some stranger. He's building his own political apparatus (both a super PAC and a nonprofit, of course) from scratch. Michael Bloomberg is executing the same do-it-yourself strategy. So are a growing number of big donors who are rejecting the established old guard. Some of these mega-donors have grown disillusioned; some have narrow agendas; others just think they know better.
-- One of these solo super PAC practitioners is John Jordan, the wine executive who funded the $1.4 million super PAC that failed to defeat Sen. Ed Markey (D) in last year's Massachusetts special election. Count Jordan, the subject a magazine profile in this week's National Journal, among the disillusioned. He'd been a "seven-figure" Crossroads contributor but said, "With Crossroads, all you got was Karl Rove would come and do his little rain dance."
-- Jordan's latest venture: Helping fund $250,000 (and counting) in worth of ads for pediatric neurosurgeon Monica Wehby (R), a candidate many Republicans believe could give Sen. Jeff Merkley (D) a real race in Oregon.
-- And for those thinking that the McCutcheon Supreme Court decision might shift substantial power back to the political parties, think again. "It is a tempest in a teapot in terms of practical politics," Jordan says. That's because the big, unlimited money remains outside money.
What's most interesting about Jordan and donors like him is that because of the rise in DIY activity, money is increasingly not just beyond the party's grasp, but the broader establishment's as well, as more and more donors go it alone.
-- Shane Goldmacher