Daily Archives: October 1, 2014

Dick-swinging time

Apologies for the crass title, but it seems singularly appropriate for the early returns on this campaign finance deadline day. Particularly when it comes to Governor Peter Shumlin and, to a lesser extent, Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott.

Shumlin maintained his frenzied fundraising pace during September, and his campaign spending went straight through the roof. He raised a total of $100,875 during the month — three thousand dollars a day, including weekends and Labor Day — which is insane enough, but then you get to the Expenditures line:

$234,898.90.

Congratulations, Governor, for holding the line under $235,000.

The lion’s share of that money went to TV advertising: $215,147.

I recall Scott Milne castigating the Governor for spending $20,000 a week on TV ads. Well, Mahatma was wrong: Shumlin spent twice as much. More than $40,000 a week. Yikes. 

Later Note: That was a mental leap too far. Shumlin’s campaign spent $215,147 on TV in September, but some of that money — perhaps most of it — may have been prepaid for ad time in the coming weeks. So I can’t say how much Shumlin is spending per week. 

At this time two years ago, Shumlin hadn’t even begun to advertise. And he faced a stronger opponent — well, a less sickly opponent, anyway. As of October 15, 2012 (there wasn’t an October 1 report that year), he had spent a total of $160,387. For his entire campaign.

He spent more than that on TV ads alone. In the past month alone.

And he’s got enough cash on hand to keep up the pace through Election Day even if he doesn’t raise another dime, which, ha ha. His campaign fund has a positive balance of just over $400,000. Add in the money left over from his Hulk-Smash victory over Randy Brock in 2012, he’s got more than a million bucks in the bank.

Scott Milne, who hadn’t filed as of 2:30 pm, has told VPR’s Peter Hirschfeld that he’d raised over $80,000 in the past month. Which is impressive by his standards, but still nothing compared to Shumlin’s stash.

Libertarian Dan Feliciano, as I reported earlier today, raised about $3500 in the past month and $17,000 for the entire campaign. And his bottom line is actually underwater. Or it would be if he hadn’t donated $10,000 to his own campaign.

Money-wise, the Governor has nothing to worry about. So, given the fact that his challengers are woefully underfunded and undertalented, why is he spending like a drunken sailor in a state liquor store?

My theory is that he really, really wants to get a pure majority of the vote. And hopefully approach the 57% he received two years ago. If he wins with a mere plurality against puny competition, he’ll enter the big push for single-payer health care a diminished political figure. He doesn’t want that. So expect to keep on seeing plenty of Shumlin for Governor ads on your TV screen.

Phil Scott’s package is nothing like Shumlin’s, but he’s doing just fine by the standards of the Lieutanant Governorship. He did crack the $200,000 mark in total donations, which was his stated goal — to raise as much money the traditional way as Prog/Dem Dean Corren would receive in public financing. And Scott still has more time to raise more money.

And more space, too. He’s getting plenty of money from business groups and PACs, but he’s getting a goodly share of smaller donations as well. Uniquely among Vermont Republicans, Phil Scott actually has something of a base.

He’ll need to keep fundraising if he wants to maintain his spending pace. He’s managed to spend over $150,000 so far. He did enter this cycle with over $42,000 left over from 2012, so he’s up around $100K in cash on hand. But if he’s spent $150K so far, he’s likely to spend a lot more by November 4. The Governor won’t break any campaign spending records, which were set in 2010’s Shumlin/Dubie contest. But Phil Scott must be shattering the previous campaign spending marks for his office. His ceremonial office.

If only he had time left over for his alleged VTGOP-rebuilding project.

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Two ships that pass in the night

Today, via Neal Goswami of the Mitchell Family Organ:

A report released Wednesday based on an internal review of the Department for Children and Families does not recommend restructuring the agency, but does seek immediate boosts to staffing, additional staff training and better collaboration between the department and its partners.

Yesterday, via them damn commies at the Public Assets Institute:

A month after announcing a 2 percent cut to the current year’s budget, the Shumlin Administration is signaling its intention to make additional cuts of as much as 5 percent and possibly more next year (fiscal 2016).

Well, that looks like a conundrum in the making.

Human Services Secretary Harry Chen, the presumably more loyal and/or pliable replacement for the cashiered Doug Racine, now has a report that says his agency needs more resources. Which probably induces a rueful chuckle from Mr. Racine.

And now this report will duke it out with the Administration’s budget instructions reportedly given to its top managers:

The administration laid out two scenarios for fiscal 2016:

— Level funding—the same amount appropriated for this fiscal year after the cuts adopted in August.

— Five percent cut from fiscal 2015 levels—again after the August cuts.

As PAI notes, the best-case scenario — level funding — would mean cutbacks, since there are built-in cost increases: “cost of living increases for state employees, caseload increases, contractual increases, loss of federal funding, inflation, and other new demands…”

The AHS/DCF review was initiated by then-Secretary Racine. Will Dr. Chen back up the report’s conclusions? Or will he bend to the apparent belt-tightening mandate from above? According to the PAI report, he’s got about two weeks to turn in his budget recommendations.

This should go well.

Hey, what’s this on my Twitter feed?

Now, there’s big news. Dan the Libertarian Man wants to raise $100,000 in two days.

Ahem. As it happens, today is campaign finance filing day, and Dan — being the efficiency maven that he is — filed his report early. And it says here that in the past month, he’s raised a massive $3,528. Which brings his campaign total to $17,014.

So… in 48 hours, he’s going to beat his total for the entire campaign by a factor of six.

Yeah, let me know how that goes for ya.

Unless he’s got a whole buncha Sugar Daddies waiting in the weeds, he won’t raise 100 G’s or anything like it. But with a bit of luck, he might raise enough to get his campaign out of debt. Expenditures to date: $28,505.59. He’s only been able to pay the bills and keep the lights on because he donated $10,000 to his own campaign.

So much for #Felicianomentum. If a grassroots movement is afoot, it sure doesn’t show up in his finances. In the past month he received a mere 15 donations, or roughly one every two days. Seven were less than $100 apiece. Of the other eight, six came from outside of Vermont. And for the campaign to date, only 32 people have opened their wallets on Dan’s behalf. For those unfamiliar with campaign finance, let’s just say those are really small numbers.

In his situation, any little boost he can get from this fundraising blitz will help. But he’s certain to fall embarrassingly short of his extremely large goal. (Again, unless he’s got a lot of Ayn Rand fans on his “In Case Of Campaign Emergency, Break Glass” list.) Why not aim for $20,000? He might possibly, maybe, achieve that. Or get close enough to plausibly declare victory.

The short answer is, he needs $100,000 to build #Felicianomentum toward Election Day. But no matter how much he actually raises, it’s going to look small compared to his stated goal.

Oh well, I wish him luck.

p.s. The Grammar Lady in me can’t resist noting that “& etc” is redundant. Use your characters wisely, Dan; you only get 140 at a time.