The following observations are based on my 2 campaigns for the US Senate, both primary and general election campaigns as well as friendships with more than a few Senators and Congressmen.

To begin, all candidates need $, more now than ever before. In my state, Montana, in 1978 we spent a little less than 1,000,000. Today's races they are >10,000,000. I refused all outside the state PAC money as I thought money "buys" politicians.

I was right…and wrong.

Regardless of your politics if you can't fund a campaign you will not get elected, so you need money. The typical view, as Stef has expressed, is that votes are bought and paid for. Not really.

There are 2 functions a Senator performs:

1. to represent a political view (liberal, conservative, wobbly or a wonker)

2. BUT that is not the main job…the primary job is to help your state and proved great constituent services (this is what gets you re-elected). Thus there are 2 types of money 'political view' and state interests.

Soros or the Koch's don't buy votes…

What happens is they find and support like minded thinkers who generally support their ideas of more/less, etc government. That is all they can 'count on'. They know money talks and contributions will at least get viewpoints listened to. That is not to say a few politicos tumble to the tune of money, but by and large they do not– and contributors well know of Willie Brown's quote when asked how he could take money from a PAC and vote against them replied, "If you can't take money from them one day and vote against them the next, you should never be in politics".

So while 99% of people on this site and in real life think lobbyists buy votes they are right about 2% of the time. The guys they contribute to already agree with their agenda. They are politically congruent, on the same side. Lobbyists can be very helpful in getting data for your staff to look at, and a good staff listens to lobbyists on both sides of the issues.

While we focus on the politics/agenda of candidate, an effective representatives work is representing his states interest and helping citizens there in a myriad of problems and opportunities for him or her. And, that's what gets you re-elected. When Mrs. Jones says you saved here SS check, or a business guys got help you get votes. That's why a liberal state and can have a conservative congressman.

Most folks confuse the job of their reps. They represent them and the state's interests.


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