The VTGOP: It’s worse than it looks

While poring over the campaign finance filings from this week, I couldn’t help noticing that — in sheer fundraising terms — the Republican Party has slipped into the #3 position. Yep, they’re being out-fundraised, quite handily, by our humble friends in the Progressive Party.

The numbers: VTGOP raised $7,500 for the most recent period (mid-March to mid-July) and $61,000 for the entire election cycle. The Progs, by contrast, raised $16,000 for the period and $89,000 for the cycle. (All numbers rounded off, thanks.)

See, it’s not even close. The Progs are a solid number 2.

This isn’t because the Progressives have enhanced their drawing power; their numbers are roughly on track with the same time frame in the 2012 cycle. It’s just that the Vermont Republicans are simply terrible at fundraising. Really, really, bad.

But wait — it’s worse than that.

In its mid-March filing, the VTGOP reported raising more than $45,000. This, presumably, reflects the take from the big Chris Christie fundraiser in December. That’s a really nice number, but it’s a whole lot lower than what party leaders were projecting before Christie’s visit. And it didn’t set the party on a new, healthier course; it merely provided a temporary jolt, like treating a pneumonia patient with Red Bull. Judging by its latest report, the VTGOP can’t draw flies without a big event. $7,500 is a wretched total for a “major” party entering a statewide election campaign. (It may help explain why short-term party staffer Brent Burns has departed to set up his own campaign shop; I suspect that either he wasn’t getting paid regularly, or it was made clear to him that the party couldn’t continue to pay him. Instead, we have Jeff Bartley as the party’s “Victory Director.” And I’m pretty sure that’s a part-time gig.

But wait — it’s even worse.

That $7,500 for the most recent period included $2,000 from Lt. Gov. Phil Scott’s campaign fund, $1,000 from Phil Scott’s construction company, and another $1,000 from State Rep. Heidi Scheuermann’s campaign fund. Plus $1,000 from Jani-Tech, a janitorial services company. Jani-Tech’s owner, Dawn Terrill, is the VTGOP’s new finance chair. Plus $800 from Greenleaf Metals, owned by party treasurer Mark Snelling.

So the bulk of that pathetic fundraising total came from a handful of insiders. Without Scott, Scheuermann, Terrill, and Snelling, the party would have received a measly $1,700 over a three-month period. A three-month period in which the party ought to have been marshaling resources for intensive campaigning.

What’s worse than pathetic? Abysmal?

One final note of despair. The GOP’s campaign bumpf is generously festooned with references to the state’s political elite, by which they mean the Democrats. But if the Republicans are trying to appeal to the common folk, the working man, Joe Sixpack, they are failing completely. In the past year, the Vermont Republican Party has taken in only 15 individual contributions of less than $100. What little money they’re raising is being given by the usual handful of insiders and well-connected business types.

Of course, a big part of the Republicans’ problem is that they’re getting a lot less from those business types than they used to. Many businesspeople and wealthy donors of centrist orientation, or of a practical bent, have abandoned the Republicans and are either sitting on their money, sending it out of state, or giving it to the Democrats.

But the takeaway here is, the Republicans have no appeal for the general public. At least, not enough appeal for individuals to open up their wallets.

See, it’s even worse than it looks.

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