John T. (Terry) Dolan thinks there is a conspiracy in the press to depict the National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC), which he runs, as a loser in the 1982 election.
"If you followed big media's election coverage," he wrote last Sunday in The Post, "you would have heard a great deal about NCPAC. All of it wrong."
The error, Dolan says, consists of our saying that NCPAC lost most of its key races. By his scorecard, he had 70 percent winners. With his technique, I would like him keeping score for the Chicago Cubs.
As one of those singled out for chastisement, I have to wonder what happened. Two years ago, other reporters and I said that NCPAC had been notably successful in contributing to the defeat of a number of liberal senators it had targeted, including George McGovern of South Dakota, Frank Church of Idaho, Birch Bayh of Indiana and John C. Culver of Iowa.
There were no complaints about our bias or mathematical stupidity from Dolan at that point. Maybe, during the last two years, while Ronald Reagan and his Republicans were running Washington, we were suddenly brainwashed by the lefties. That seems unlikely. A second possibility is that we suddenly got stupid. I am at the point in life where senility may be suspected, but I resent that charge being leveled at the younger journalists Dolan indicted in his Sunday blast.
The third possibility is that maybe, just maybe, the situation might have changed since the 1980 election.
On the off-chance that the third of these alternatives might be right, I looked up the clippings of the press conference that one John T. (Terry) Dolan, chairman of NCPAC, held on Nov. 11, 1980, at which he announced the "target list" of 20 senators NCPAC was out to defeat in 1982. On April 13, 1981, he added three representatives to that list. Of the original targets, one -- Sen. Howard W. Cannon (D-Nev.) -- was defeated.
Since Dolan has raised the issue of who is telling the truth about the NCPAC record, maybe the record should be spelled out in detail.
The biggest reported NCPAC expenditure was $664,610 to defeat Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D-Md.). He won with 63 percent of the vote. Next was $528,170 against Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D- Mass.). He won with 61 percent of the vote. Next was $239,960 against Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.). He won with 69 percent of the vote.
Next was $217,115 against Rep. Jim Wright (D-Texas). He won with 68 percent of the vote. Next was $207,042 against Sen. John Melcher (D-Mont.). He won with 54 percent of the vote. Next was $203,985 against Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas). He won with 59 percent of the vote.
Next was $189,609 against Sen. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. (R-Conn.). He won with 51 percent of the vote. Next was $182,739 against Cannon, who lost with 48 percent of the vote.
Next was $127,026 to defeat Rep. James R. Jones (D-Okla.). He won with 55 percent of the vote. Next was $73,775 against Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan (D-N.Y.). He won with 65 percent of the vote. Next was $67,108 against Sen. Quentin N. Burdick (D-N.D.). He, too, won with 65 percent of the vote.
Next was $57,506 to defeat Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.). He won with 84 percent of the vote. Next was $26,572 against Sen. Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.). He won with 59 percent of the vote. And, finally, there was $26,275 against Sen. Howard M. Metzenbaum (D-Ohio). He won with 57 percent of the vote.
Common Cause, the watchdog group that compiled the NCPAC spending figures from official Federal Election Commission reports through Oct. 27, found no other candidate on whom Dolan had spent more than $10,000.
By my left-wing and senile mathematics, that adds up to $2,811,492 of contributors' cash that Dolan put into his 14 priority races. Thirteen of the 14 men he set out to beat won -- one with more than 80 percent of the vote; six others with more than 60 percent of the vote; four others with more than 55 percent; and two in close races. One lost with 48 percent.
That is a helluva record, and I agree with Dolan that all past and prospective NCPAC contributors are entitled to have it spelled out in full.
They also should know that, according to FEC records through Oct. 13, NCPAC had taken in $8,923,966 in contributions in 1981-82 and had spent $9,003,766. But of that amount, only $3,205,328 had gone to contributions or expenditures for or against candidates. The rest was overhead -- the costs of NCPAC's fund-raising, salaries, travel and administration.
With a record like that, liberals should not be interested in putting NCPAC out of business. They ought to hope Dolan is right when he predicts it will "grow and prosper." No one else will spend so much and get so little done.