Big outside groups overshadow parties in key races

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Associated Press

Posted on April 8, 2014 at 6:05 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 8 at 6:05 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Millionaires and billionaires are boosting their influence in federal elections. That's leaving political parties to play more limited roles and raising questions about who sets the agenda in campaigns.

In a handful of key Senate races, the biggest and loudest players so far are well-funded groups that don't answer to any candidate or political party. That can make it hard for voters to know who is responsible for hard-hitting TV ads and other "messaging." And some party officials say even friendly groups can be unpredictable and worrisome.

Last week's Supreme Court decision voiding overall limits on contributions to candidates, PACs and political parties may give the parties a modest financial boost. But it seems unlikely to weaken the groups' influence over the 2014 House and Senate elections.

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