Following the Money in Arizona’s CD8 Congressional Race

Shakemoney
I’m going to be talking about campaign money, and only money, in this post. I am looking at the ‘money primary,’ not ideas, not merit, not talent: just money. So I don’t want to see any comments carping about how money isn’t everything. Of course it’s not; but for the purposes of this post, it’s the only thing. Well, maybe not the only, but the main.

One thing that’s pretty apparent once you’ve looked at a few of the FEC reports is that the non-ideological big donors are spreading it around a bit. They really aren’t sure which way this thing will fall and are covering their bets. This race is on, baby.

So far, the fundraising champ in CD 8 is far and away Gabby Giffords. With almost 600K raised, and almost half a million sitting in the bank, Gabby is clearly meeting, and even exceeding, expectations in the money primary. Gabby has continued to expand her fundraising base with almost 400 significant contributors (WARNING: large DB query, may take significant time to load), most of whom still have plenty of head-room to continue funding her campaign. She isn’t shy about spending her warchest to help solidify her place as the Democratic frontrunner, either. She’s already spent more than all the other candidates combined (if you leave out Randy Graf). She’s laid down staff, infrastructure, and literature investments that the other candidates are surely envious of. Giffords’ campaign is building a firm foundation for a seige upon the open CD8 seat.

But Giffords is not content to rely solely on big-dollar donations. She has recently run a very successful internet-based small-dollar donor campaign via email and her website. In preparation for the quarterly report she ran a thermometer campaign using "Help plant a saguaro in DC" as her theme. Her goal was $5,000, she ended up more than tripling that goal. Clearly, Giffords making aggressive moves to capture the small-donor that are bearing (saguaro) fruit.

Gabrielle Giffords (D)

Raised:


$570,230

Spent:


$95,629

Cash on hand:


$474,601

Last Report: 3/31/2006

B/L/I pie


LegendPACs:
$29,350 (5%)

LegendIndividuals:
$540,291 (95%)

LegendCandidate:
$0

LegendOther:
$589 (0%)

 

Steve Huffman is one surprise in this quarter’s figures. Steve has nearly matched Giffords’ pace of fundraising. Clearly, Huffman is swiftly become the Great White Hope to save the GOP from the nomination of the immoderate Mr. Graf. All of Huffman’s funding so far is individual contributions (WARNING: large DB query, may take significant time to load) coming from his strong connections to the real estate and development communities, with a salting of financial services, local business, law and lobbying. However, I expect that the leadership and ideological PACs will not be far behind, throwing 5K a pop into Huffman’s kitty. So don’t expect Gifford’s money advantage to remain; especially after the primary. The Click and Diamond clans are onboard the Huffman Express and are so assured of his victory, that Jimmy and Donny have already given the personal limit for the entire race. Huffman will clearly be the choice of the monied Right in this race. And he’s only begun to fight.

Steve Huffman (R)

Raised:


$239,659

Spent:


$13,204

Cash on hand:


$226,454

Last Report: 3/31/2006

B/L/I pie


LegendPACs:
$0

LegendIndividuals:
$239,659 (100%)

LegendCandidate:
$0

LegendOther:
$0

   

Patty Weiss has exceeded expectations with a strong opening quarter of fundraising. She’s not quite meeting the pace of Giffords and Huffman, but she’s very close. She loaned her campaign about 10K in the early days to kickstart the process, but she’s been raising well, drawing on academic, medical, journalistic, and local business contacts. The question is whether Patty will be able to continue to broaden her fundraising base and keep on the pace being set by Giffords and Huffman.

Patty’s campaign is also spending strongly. She’s ripped through almost 50 grand in the quarter. Much of it has gone to standard expenses like payroll, lit, fundraising expenses, travel, and the like, but that internal poll that the campaign released set her back almost 13K in December (perhaps that was what Patty’s loan paid for). The poll conferred considerable credibility on her candidacy and may have helped to propel her fundraising, so it may have been a very wise investment. The big question is can she sustain her momentum over two quarters as Giffords has now done?

Patty Weiss (D)

Raised:


$183,450

Spent:


$45,132

Cash on hand:


$138,318

Last Report:

3/31/2006

B/L/I pie


LegendPACs:
$5,000 (3%)

LegendIndividuals:
$168,719 (92%)

LegendCandidate:
$9,720 (5%)

LegendOther:
$11 (0%)

   

Randy Graf holds the unusual distinction of being the darling of the left and the right, simulaneously. Heck, I’ve even considered a donation to his campaign. He is the champion of the far Right, yet many liberals feel sure that he is the best hope for Democrats to overcome our slight registration disadvantage in the district by pushing independents and moderate Republicans into voting Democratic. We’ll see.

Considering that Graf has been running pretty much continuously since 2004, his numbers don’t look so hot. He brought in over 60K this quarter, but he also spent over 60K. The graph below is incorrect. Graf started the quarter with about 25K on hand, and ended it the same way. Graf is living off the land. His major expense has been fundraising. He spent 20K for services from American Caging, alone. Coincidentally (or maybe not), American Caging boasts of the Minutemen among their clientele. Throw in over almost $7,000 in payments to Compass Bank for ‘fundraising’, $2,500 in payments to Graf himself for ‘mileage and fundraising’, over $13,000 in payments to various ‘political consultants’, and over $6,400 to a ‘High Noon Campaign Products’ for a fundraising letter, and the rest of the operation is pretty spare.

As I’ve pointed out before, Graf’s campaign is unlikely to look like other campaigns from a fiscal viewpoint. He is running a campaign that is inspired by the Buchanan presidential campaigns. He will use direct mail, issue-oriented fundraising from small-dollar donors (as he’s doing), he’ll live off the land with a small and spare campaign (as he’s doing) and he’ll find creative ways to enrich himself through his campaign (as he might be doing, and has apparently been accused of doing by others). I’m just surprised he’s not hawking a horrible book on immigration, like J.D. Hayworth.

I’m not entirely sure that Graf’s goal is to win. And I don’t know that he realisitically can do so. He could only get 40% of the Republican Party vote in the primary, albeit against an intrenched incumbent; how much worse is he likely to do with the total electorate? Republicans aren’t stupid – even the racists/fascists/xenophobes can count. I think Graf would be gratified as hell if he did manage to win, but I also feel sure that Graf is going to do well for himself and be satisfied even if he doesn’t.

Randy Graf (R)

Raised:


$130,812

Spent:


$118,560

Cash on hand:


$25,331

Last Report:

3/31/2006

B/L/I pie


LegendPACs:
$5,128 (4%)

LegendIndividuals:
$125,684 (96%)

LegendCandidate:
$0

LegendOther:
$0

  

Mike Hellon’s campaign looks a lot healthier than it actually is. If you only take note of the total ‘raised’ you might miss that Mike has self-financed 40K of that total. When almost half of a candidate’s funding is out of their own pocket, there is a problem… unless he’s a multi-millionaire, and even then… feh.

A large proportion of Hellon’s major contributors are completely tapped for the primary season. He’ll have to quickly broaden his fundraising base beyond the roughly 60 major contributors he’s got now to stay viable.

About Hellon’s only expenditures so far have been a massive $9,000 payment to his campaign consultants. That doesn’t indicate a healthy campaign to me. The almost complete absence of travel, events, fundraising, staff and infrastructure (outside of what the consultants are taking a big slice out of) makes Hellon’s campaign look like an expensive stillborn vanity project.

Mike Hellon (R)

Raised:


$102,440

Spent:


$11,077

Cash on hand:


$91,363

Last Report:

3/31/2006

B/L/I pie


LegendPACs:
$200 (0%)

LegendIndividuals:
$62,240 (61%)

LegendCandidate:
$40,000 (39%)

LegendOther:
$0

  

Are there any examples in modern America of a guy or a gal being able to pull out a Congressional victory with a shoestring budget, sincerity, and commitment? Not if the DCCC has anything to say about it, apparently.

Jeff’s got a lot of great attributes, but apparently raking in the cash isn’t among them. Jeff’s got a very active grassroots base of support, and he just picked up the endorsement of the local Progressive Democrats of America: the democratic wing of the Democratic Party, as Howard Dean might put it. But can Latas and other ‘progressive’ populist candidates pull the same kind of low road fundraising trick that Dean made work in 2004? The data’s not in yet, but it could be that a Congressional district is too small of a population base to make a small-donor Internet-centeric strategy work. Unless you somehow pick up a national following for your campaign, that is.

Jeff has done a good job trying to nationalize his campaign by tying himself to the Band of Brothers. He will be featured this week on Air America and DailyKos as the week’s ‘Fighting Dem.’ So far, the bottom line results of these efforts are not measuring up to his big-donor competitors’ more traditional approach. Despite raising less the 30K, Latas went on the air with campaign ads which were produced by volunteers and selected by vote on DailyKos. I believe the media buy was made following this reporting period, so the Latas campaign likely splashed out several thousand dollars more of what they had on hand. It is an open question whether ads this early will gain him sufficient additional recognition to justify the cost. It could be a confident move; or it could be a desperate gamble

Clearly, Jeff is doing a lot with what he has and could upset the Conventional Wisdom that votes follow the money. But I haven’t seen much explicit fundraising over the Internet in Jeff’s campaign. Jeff’s people need to shape fundraising campaigns around the issues, such as his recent denouncement of planning to attack Iran with nuclear weapons, that make it dead simple for people to give a little. When I read that release, it put me in the mood to plunk a few bucks down, but the campaign gave me no instant way to do so. Such a lack of precision and catering to the instant gratification net-heads expect can sink an insurgent campaign. I’m afraid that Jeff’s team may be too shy about asking for money directly and forcefully, and making a case for keeping their candidate in the race with cold hard cash. On the internet, that’s the only way you are going to get the Benjamins.

Jeff Latas (D)

Raised:


$27,923

Spent:


$18,988

Cash on hand:


$8,934

Last Report:

3/31/2006

B/L/I pie


LegendPACs:
$0

LegendIndividuals:
$27,403 (98%)

LegendCandidate:
$519 (2%)

LegendOther:
$1 (0%)

   

Alex Rodriguez has raised only half of what Latas has raised, but he does have the advantage of holding public office while running. The potential for free media resulting from the Huerta "Republicans hate Latinos" flap is high, but I don’t think Rodriguez will bite. Despite being on the TUSD Board which is the focus of the dust-up with the GOP-controlled State Legislature, the issue is just too explosive for a careful and centrist politician like Rodriguez to touch.

My memory may be playing tricks on me, but I think he had a photo of himself with Huerta on his campaign website (I can’t imagine where else I would have seen such a picture, and I know I did), and now it’s gone. It’s too bad, really, he could stand up to the GOP’s bullying and defend Huerta (though perhaps not what she said) and the independence of our public schools, and gain a lot of traction with Democratic primary voters and garner state-wide visibility. It’s playing with fire, sure, but that’s exactly how campaigns catch fire. And Rodriguez needs some heat.

Rodriguez has gambled big that his investment of $5,000 (almost a third of his warchest so far, and almost half of what’s he’s spent) to hire the Washington, D.C. firm Christensen and Associates is going to make rain for his campaign. I think he’d do better to declare war on the Arizona GOP on behalf of Latinos and all Democrats, but Alex probably doesn’t want to lessen his appeal to crossover voters. I happen to think that there is no longer any such thing: voters are with the Democrats or they aren’t, no discussion or persausion required at this point.

Alex Rodriguez (D)

Raised:


$16,838

Spent:


$11,209

Cash on hand:

$5,628
Last Report:

3/31/2006

B/L/I pie


LegendPACs:
$0

LegendIndividuals:
$16,838 (100%)

LegendCandidate:
$0

LegendOther:
$0

I don’t know that much about Jenkins’ campaign. With the amount of money raised, over half of it coming from two people who are probably friends or family, and the amount of money spent, all of it at Costco and Postnet, likely few others do either. Jenkins looks to be running a low-key, word of mouth campaign that isn’t going to hurt anyone – but it isn’t going to have much impact either unless Jenkins figures out a way to get major free media. The one thing I do know about Mike is that he’s just folks; not some hyper-ambitious yuppy puppy. We need such people involved in the process, even if they can’t raise big money. We need public financing so that people like him have a better than even chance of getting a fair hearing from the electorate. 

Mike Jenkins (R)

Raised:

$3,830
Spent:

$1,877
Cash on hand:

$1,763
Last Report:

3/31/2006

B/L/I pie


LegendPACs:
$0

LegendIndividuals:
$3,537 (92%)

LegendCandidate:
$293 (8%)

LegendOther:
$0

   

Full disclosure: Francine regularly comes to the Drinking Liberally meetings I host every Thursday at The Shanty.

Francine hasn’t raised spit. She’ll tell you that herself. Hers is also a word-of-mouth oriented campaign based on showing up and getting to know folks. She won’t be able to get herself well-known enough to win a primary with such a campaign these days, 600K+ people are too many to meet and our media is too expensive, but she’ll certainly bend a lot of ears with some common sense and good old-fashioned truth. I honestly think that Francine would stay in the campaign until Primary Day even if she never raised another dollar. I hope that our democracy hasn’t become so crass and dollar-driven that there isn’t a place in the process for folks like Francine and Mike Jenkins (and Jeff Latas and Alex Rodriguez, and, what the hell, even Mike Hellon, for that matter). Again, our democracy would benefit of people like Francine getting a chance to be heard by the electorate. She’s why we need public financing of campaigns.

Francine Shacter (D)

Raised:

$2,808
Spent:

$519
Cash on hand:

$2,288
Last Report:

3/31/2006

B/L/I pie


LegendPACs:
$0

LegendIndividuals:
$2,291 (82%)

LegendCandidate:
$516 (18%)

LegendOther:
$1 (0%)

 

I don’t know why opensecrets.org doesn’t list Dwight Leister in this race. His report is on the FEC website. Leister raised just over $3,000 this quarter, but every name on his reciepts disclosure ends in Leister (I’m guessing that Thelma and Donald are his mum and dad) so I don’t know that Dwight actually left his house to do any of his fundraising.

That’s it for this quarter in the ‘Egregious Eighth’ district of Arizona. Based solely on the fundraising, the race appears to shaping up as a showdown between establishment Dems, represented by Gabby Giffords, and establishment GOPers, represented by Steve Huffman. Looks can be decieving in politics, but money seldom is. There is still several months until the Primary, and anything could happen. But the money can only answer the question, "What is likely?"

0 responses to “Following the Money in Arizona’s CD8 Congressional Race

  1. Michael:

    Nice post! As you may have seen from my comments in other blogs, I agree with you on almost all that you have said.

    A few additions to your thoughts:

    I know that Huffman is the pick of big money, Tucson Republicans, but they are not Cochise Republicans. Fewer voters in Cochise, but Randy has the issues for them….and Huffman is now trying to portray himself as tough on immigration too…all because of this. It makes him look like a flip-flopper too…which Graf will use.

    I still don’t know how or where Randy has spent all his money. That could hurt him. But, I also think Randy is benefited by Munsil being on the ticket in the Gov. primary. I would urge them to get together if I were their managers.

    I also think about the Huffman/Hellon split that Huffman’s backers had hoped his fundraising would prevent. Hellon is still here…and he still might split that mod. repub. vote with Huffman.

    I didn’t see Patty doing “better than expected.” She did keep herself in the game with a good amount of money (183K) and seperated herself from all the others below her (Latas, Rodriguez, Schacter). However, her name rec. poll raised her expectations a lot! It even had led her supporters to argue that she was the front-runner. I question, then, why her name rec. could not translate into donations and financial support? I can only imagine that Gabby has gotten to donors and impressed them first. Last, I agree that the test will be if Patty can build on her fundraising from last time or if the maxed dollars prevent her from doing as well.

    On Gabby…well said…I have already seen national campaign sites like Washington Post labeling her the front-runner based on this support. Front-runner status and her success in both large and small donations might pull out more endorsements and make Democrat leaning PACS more confortable backing someone now.

    Well said again.

    Roger

  2. Thanks for the headsup. I’ll get it fixed.

  3. Followed your links to the donor lists, and you have both the Giffords link and the Huffman link pointing at the same info (Huffman’s donations).

    People that follow the Giffords link may really end up scatching their heads as they look over that list.