Minter outraises Dunne: the Democratic filings

I’ve already written my take on the Republican gubernatorial campaign finance reports; now it’s the Democrats’ turn.

Topline: A great three months for Sue Minter; a slower pace for the Matt Dunne gravy train; and Peter Galbraith Is His Own Best Friend.

Minter raised almost $400,000 between March 15 and July 15. On the other hand, she spent an even healthier $437,000 for the period, leaving her with about $300K in cash on hand.

Dunne raised $250,000 for the quarter, which would be pretty damn good if not for Minter’s total and the fact that he used to have a substantial lead in campaign cash. That lead is gone. He’s got about $200K left in the till.

Galbraith, meanwhile, has raised a total of $320,000 (he hadn’t begun to fundraise at the March filing deadline), of which $185,000 came from his own pocket. He’s spent all but $35,000, so if he should pull a stunning upset in the primary, he’ll be hard up for the fall campaign.

Except, of course, that thanks to his oil wealth he can write himself virtually unlimited checks.

Anyway, let’s move on to details and such.


Thanks for the kind words, but your lone criticism is only partially valid. It’s true that most candidates collect most of their money in large donations — including Scott, Minter, and Dunne. However, Scott had decidedly fewer small and midsize donors than the two Democrats.

Of Scott’s second-quarter take of $319,000, he took in $31,000 in gifts of $100 or less. That’s less than ten percent. Minter raised $57,000 of her $400,000 total in gifts of $100 or less, or 14 percent. Dunne raised $248K, of which $37,000 came in “small” donations, or 15 percent. A small but definite distinction.

There are other ways to slice this pizza. Minter had a large number of gifts between $100 and $300, while Scott took in more big checks but had fewer donors. Minter had 1,876 individual donors; Scott had 1,093, while raising almost as much money as Minter.

Divide it out: the average size of a gift to Minter was $185. For Dunne, $212. For Phil Scott, it was $292. A more considerable distinction. Scott definitely has a smaller donor base, and is more dependent on gifts of $1,000 or above.

Well, enough math. If I screwed up any of those figures, I’m sure someone will point it out.

Minter Fresh

Half of Minter’s expenses for the period — $222,000 — went to a single DC firm, GMMB Inc., a liberal-oriented media strategy outfit It handled her media buys, so you won’t find individual expenses for Comcast or WPTZ or any of those.

When you scan down Minter’s lengthy list of individual contributors, it’s obvious that there are a lot of women — both in Vermont and elsewhere. Safe to say that the backing of EMILY’s List has gone a long way in keeping her campaign competitive. And, in fact, opening up a significant monetary edge on Dunne, who’d gotten off to such a fast start it once seemed like no one could catch up with him.

Notable donors: Burlington developer Don Sinex gave Minter the maximum $4,000. Former Vermont Democratic Party operative Ariel Wengroff is apparently making good money in her executive post at Vice Media, because she kicked in a cool $1,000. Minter got $2,000 from ski resort operator Win Smith, who’s really spread the wealth. He’s also given $2,000 apiece to Matt Dunne and Bruce Lisman, but his bestie is Phil Scott, who got the maximum $4,000 from Smith.

Oh, and Minter got $999 from the Kate Brown Committee. She’s the Governor of Oregon, FYI.

“No, I’m not Tony Shalhoub, and stop asking me”

Matt Dunne, as noted above, had once threatened to co-opt the entire Democratic field with his fundraising prowess. Not any more. He was outperformed by Minter in the current reporting period, and has a distinct disadvantage in cash on hand. But whoever wins the primary will have to jumpstart the campaign finance machine as quickly as possible. The winner will need another million, at least, to be competitive with presumptive favorite Phil Scott.

Either will have one advantage over Scott: some of his high-rolling supporters have already given the maximum. Few, if any, Democratic donors have maxed out, so they can be tapped for fresh contributions. (Neither Dunne nor Minter has more than a handful of donations in the $2000-4000 range. Scott has quite a few.)

Dunne staged a last-days fundraising blitz just before the July 12 deadline for July 15 reporting, in an apparent effort to boost his total for the period. It worked; he got 162 separate donations on July 11 and 12 alone. Those donations included $2,000 apiece from the candidate and his novelist wife, Sarah Stewart Taylor. (A very talented person whom I once interviewed during my previous life in radio. Hi, Sarah!)

If not for that blitz, his fundraising total would have been a shadow of Minter’s.

Like Minter, Dunne funneled his TV ad buys through a DC firm, The New Media Group. His campaign wrote checks to them totaling roughly $220,000. Which means that Minter and Dunne have spent virtually the same amount on paid media in the past three months.

Other noteworthy notes on Dunne: on April 21, he paid a California research firm $15,000 for “research,” which I thought meant polling, but about a month later he paid a DC firm $37,500 for “Survey/Polls.” I do hope that 15K wasn’t for opposition research on Minter and Galbraith.

The Great Wind of the South

Speaking of whom… compared to Scott, Minter and Dunne, Galbraith had a truly paltry donor base. He collected money from a mere 284 souls, on his way to a total haul of $327,000. Slightly less than $200,000 of that came from “self or immediate family.”

Must be nice to be a millionaire.

And apparently he travels in select company, because his average donation was a breathtaking $1,151. Very few small donors, lots of high rollers writing four-figure checks.

The vast majority from out of state. Indeed, if you mapped his donors’ locations against the route of the Acela Express, you’d find a close correlation. Lots of activity in the Boston-New York-Washington corridor.

Here’s one point in his favor: he got a $2,000 check from renowned artist Wolf Kahn of Brattleboro. Wonderful guy; I had the pleasure of interviewing him when I was working in radio. (I don’t think I’ve ever interviewed any of Minter’s donors.)

Galbraith did most of his spending on advertising; as with Dunne and Minter, he funneled it through out-of-state consulting firms, Hamburger Strategies of Washington DC and Screen Strategies Media of Fairfax, Virginia.

He also spent $28,000 on “Research/Survey” by the Global Strategy Group of New York City. I hope he liked what he saw, but I doubt it.

The Democratic money race is a mirror image of the scant evidence we’ve gotten from the publicly-available opinion polling: a close two-way race between Minter and Dunne, with Minter showing more strength than expected; and Peter Galbraith lagging far behind.

This is our last campaign finance snapshot until after the August 9 primary. We’ll find out on August 15 how the campaigns spent their money during the homestretch. And how much money the winner has left over.


7 thoughts on “Minter outraises Dunne: the Democratic filings

  1. Brooke Paige

    Flatlander Cash – the Mother’s Milk of Vermont Politics !

    I found it interesting that Matt Dunne, doing his best impression of Bernie, made a big fuss about corporate contributions and everyone sent the money back, however no one says a word about out of state money influencing the selection of the State’s Governor. I wonder why?

    Oh yea ! It looks like three top Democratic candidates have gone begging down-country to fill their campaign coffers with each hauling about 1/2 or more from the out-of-staters ! Maybe they should send all that “Flatlander Cash” back and make the race about what Vermonters support !

    Here is the scoop (subtraction of candidate and close family contributions)

    Matt Dunne

    In-state – $383,872.78 (4,000) = $379,872.78 Out-of-state – $435,752.78

    53% Out of state Contributions

    Peter Galbraith

    In-state – $213,156.17 (199,793) = $13,363.17 Out-of-state – $115,235.00

    90% Out of state contributions

    Sue Minter

    In-state – $448,091.56 (-0-) = $ 448,091.56 Out-of-state – $444,918.18

    49% Out of state contributions

    How much are you willing to bet that if the out of state donor question comes up – they all will be quiet as church mice ?

    BTW- Virtually all of Phil Scott’s cash has come from Vermonter donors – 93% instate vs. 7% out of state, while Uncle Bruce’s numbers show about 40% of his “real” donor money came from out of state, once you subtract his own “donations” from the figures.

    1. John S. Walters Post author

      Point taken, but there is an argument to be made against homegrown cash, especially the kind Phil Scott has raised. Who’s more engaged in Vermont politics, and who stands to gain the most: some random orthopedic surgeon from Indianapolis and his wife, who gave Matt Dunne %5,100 — or the Skip Vallee clan, who gave Scott $22,000?

      Scott’s donor list includes many developers and construction entities. Think they have an interest in, say, eroding the land protections in Act 250?

      What I’d really like is strict campaign finance limits or a public system. In the meantime, you’ve got to play the money game if you want to win. And I’d almost rather the candidates get their money from elsewhere than make themselves beholden to wealthy interests right here in Vermont.

      1. Walter Carpenter

        “Scott’s donor list includes many developers and construction entities. Think they have an interest in, say, eroding the land protections in Act 250?”

        Good point. Also, in privatizing various entities of state government so that they can get their hands on those lush contracts.

  2. Hayden Dublois

    Thanks for addressing my comment, by I think my point still holds….If you take a broader view of the campaign figures to date rather than just since March, that becomes more clear. Scott has received $81,867.76 in donations less than $100 and $682,465.33 in total donations, equaling a figure of 11.99%. For Minter, it’s 12.94%. For Dunne, it’s 12.25%. All three are within less than one percentage point of each other. Not a huge overall difference.

    1. John S. Walters Post author

      Point taken. How’s the average gift amount look over the entire cycle? Phil’s average was $100* more than Minter’s between 3/15 and 7/15.

      Not that anyone outside of you, me, and the wall gives a damn about this anyway. Won’t budge a single voter.

      1. Hayden Dublois

        By my count, Phil’s average is $311.91, while Minter’s was $265.78 and Dunne’s was $267.50….so his average was about $45 more than each of them for the entire cycle. Not a exceptionally significant amount.

        I agree that not too many others give a damn. Only us political junkies.

  3. Sam

    I heard a lame-ass Phil Scott ad on the radio this morning. Some shit about following the golden rule. What is he, 6 years old? Dude sounds like a simpleton. Pass.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s