A rare bit o’ sunshine falls on Scott Milne’s shoulder

I have to admit, I didn’t think he had it in him. But Scott Milne did it: he actually had a solid fundraising effort in September.

It’s too little, too late to get him elected. But it’s a nice solid turnaround.

Mahatma’s October 1 campaign finance report shows that he raised $78,529 during September, plus $2,600 in “in-kind” contributions, for a total of $81,129.

Very respectable. And roughly double his fundraising total before September 1.

But wait, there’s more good news. As many Republicans were quick to point out, the vast majority of Milne’s money came from in-state donors. He also did extremely well with small donations, racking up 348 separate gifts of less than $100 each. He had a lot of donations in the $100-500 range, and relatively few top-dollar gifts. His total number of unique donors in September was almost 450, or abut 15 per day. Not bad at all.

There were a couple worms in the apple, of course. He’s spending money faster than he’s raising it, having laid out more than $95,000 in all. Which leaves him with a net balance of about $41,000. In terms of cash on hand, Governor Shumlin has a 26-to-1 advantage. It’s still Bambi vs. Godzilla.

Also, more than $38,000 of Milne’s fundraising came from himself or his immediate family. And he had earlier loaned his campaign a cool $25,000. Overall, he’s much better off than he was a month ago, but he’s nowhere near competitive financially.

My conclusion: This was a good month for Milne, but it’s inconsequential to the Shumlin machine. The person for whom this is really bad news is Dan Feliciano, the Libertarian candidate who’s hoping to steal a sizeable chunk of the Republican vote. Feliciano continued to fundraise in dribs and drabs, pulling in only about $3,500 last month.

Milne beat him handily. What that says to me is that, among Republican voters, the GOP brand still carries a lot of cachet. They will vote for the Republican candidate no matter what. And quite a few of them will give money to the Republican candidate no matter what.

It makes me think that Feliciano’s upside may be more limited than us politi-geeks had thought. We heard the insider buzz for Feliciano, and party apparatchiks’ palpable disdain for Milne, and projected Feliciano to take a decent chunk of conservative votes — perhaps driving him into the teens, percentage-wise. Milne’s latest finance report makes me think the Feliciano buzz is mostly confined to the insider crowd, and that the Republican grassroots are likely to stick with their party’s man — even if (especially if?) they don’t know who he is.

Which makes me think that Feliciano won’t get out of the single digits. Sure, he got into the teens in the August primary as a write-in candidate, but that was a very small, self-selected sliver of the broader electorate. He’ll have a very hard time matching that performance in November.

(Note: If Feliciano’s seemingly ill-considered 48-hour, $100,000 fundraising blitz actually succeeds, I’ll have to eat a bunch of my words. And I’d be happy to do so. But I’m not getting out the ketchup bottle just yet.)

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