Gone are the days when governors appeared in ads only to boost state tourism. Campaign-style spending—and the slick ads it can buy—is becoming increasingly common for sitting governors, mayors, and other holders of high office.
It’s a spillover from a recipe for election success that has become pervasive since the Supreme Court struck down campaign-finance rules: Raise mass quantities of outside money, often from undisclosed donors, and use it to fund outside campaigns that align closely with the views of the candidate. Now, after winning, officials across the country are applying the same strategy to governing, relying on outside money—and advocacy groups funded by that money—to push their legislative agenda.
At least three governors— and the mayors of New York City and Los Angeles—have taken steps since 2014 to raise and set aside campaign funds, or establish independent nonprofits, to push their legislative agendas. In practice, that means the kind of glossy messaging once reserved for campaign season.