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:
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.