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Capital Comment Blog > Power Players

Money Can’t Buy Me Love

Adrian Fenty spent serious money on campaign consultants. After his loss Tuesday, they sold him out.

There were many, many differences between Adrian Fenty and Vincent Gray's campaigns, but back in June, I reported on one that came with a number attached, their use of consultants. In a three-month period, Fenty had splashed out 53 percent of his spending on campaign consultants, while Gray, spending less overall, had devoted only 15 percent of his spending to the people who were telling him how to run his campaign.

Given Gray's victory yesterday with 53 percent of the votes counted so far, Gray apparently got more for his money. But the way Fenty's consultants turned on him in a piece published in the Washington Post this morning, but reported before the results had even come in, suggests that his funds were even less well-spent than his loss would suggest. It's not that paid political advisers never talk, of course, but to talk this harshly and this swiftly after the end of a campaign suggests profound dysfunction that even fees couldn't disguise. When your top political strategist is saying things like "His campaign's failing resulted from a combination of tenor, hubris, pride and political malpractice. Campaigns that win are ones that are nimble. He's got only one play in his playbook: knocking on doors," it's a sign of utter disarray.

Money can buy a candidate all the advice in the world, but it can't make him take it, and it doesn't buy loyalty in the face of defeat—especially for consultants who want to avoid taking blame and hits to their business for such defeats.


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