The last pre-primary campaign finance reports are in, and the big winner is… yep… Your Governor, Phil Scott.
Not that he raised much money. In fact, he raised so little that it’s clear he feels no urgency whatsoever. (Of course, he’s spending minimal time campaigning as long as the pandemic still hovers, but c’mon, if he had to raise money he’d find ways to do it.)
The latest fundraising reports cover the month of July, basically. During that time, Scott raised a mere $19,000 — bringing his campaign total to $99,000. (Numbers of more than four figures are rounded to the nearest thousand.) Even more telling is how much money he spent: A measly $1,133 for the entire month.
(Interesting entry in Scott’s “Expenses” column: $218.44 in fees to ActBlue. Which means the Democrats’ number-one online fundraising tool is serving as a conduit for Phil Scott?)
Scott is not afraid of John Klar. He’s not afraid of Rebecca Holcombe or David Zuckerman. He’s not afraid, period.
The other gubernatorial reports reinforce Scott’s apparent bulletproofness. Whoever wins the Democratic primary is going to emerge with little or no money in the bank, and the national Democratic donors aren’t coming to the rescue.
After the jump: The Dems’ respective hauls and the race for Lite-Guv.
Rebecca Holcombe has raised $532,000 for the campaign, $54,000 in July. She continued to spend big: $115,000 in July and $491,000 for the campaign.
David Zuckerman raised $60,000 in July, bringing his campaign total to $347,000. But he’s spent $307,000. That means both candidates have roughly $40,000 in cash on hand. The winner will lack the resources to establish a strong presence after the primary.
And, as we’ve noted before, the Republican Governors Association stands ready to flood Vermont with cash on Scott’s behalf. If they think it’s needed. Which, so far, they don’t.
(One notable plus for Zuckerman: He’s received donations from 3,874 individuals, and virtually every one has a lot of room for additional giving. (Holcombe’s donor rolls include 1,915 individuals.) But he’ll need to show he has a chance to win.
And in the general election, a lot of core Democratic activity and dollars will be headed out of state, to fuel the battle to unseat The Orange Baby-King and win a Senate majority.
Here’s your token Pat Winburn paragraph. The Bennington lawyer has failed to make a case for his candidacy outside the cozy confines of his own wallet. He’s raised $211,000 to date, but $206,000 has come from himself or his family. His donor list has a measly 37 names.
Now to the Democrats’ race for lieutenant governor, where Molly Gray continues to lead the pack. She raised $22,000 in July for a campaign total of $208,000. She spent big — $85,000 in July, campaign total $135,000. She’s still got $75,000 in the bank heading into August.
Tim Ashe continues to trail Gray in all the money metrics. He raised $29,000 in July for a campaign total of $109,000. He’s spent a total of $85,000, leaving him about $24,000 in cash on hand. He has 600 donors, compared to Gray’s 1,096. (I’m not doing a deep dive into the donor lists, but I’ll note that Ashe received $1,000 from former senator and oil millionaire Peter Galbraith, and $200 from ace cartoonist Alison Bechdel.)
The other two Democrats, whose campaigns have focused on core constituencies rather than big money, are on surprisingly equal footing money-wise. Sen. Debbie Ingram has raised $68,000 for the campaign — but $49,000 of that is from herself or family. She’s failed to turn her ties in the faith and social justice communities into broad campaign support. She has 153 donors in all.
Brenda Siegel has raised a total of $55,000 and spent $46,000. Her $15,000 take for July was boosted by a handful of four-figure gifts totaling more than $10,000. (Notable donors: the maximum $4,160 from Jacquelyn Rieke of Nutty Steph’s and Rabble Rouser fame, and $2,100 from Burlington state house candidate Tiff Bluemle.) Before July, Siegel’s strength came from small donations; she has a total of 301 separate donors.
On the Republican side, putative front-runner Scott Milne didn’t even file a report for July. That might mean he’s running late — but considering that he’d raised and spent very little before then, it probably means he simply didn’t raise enough money to cross the $500 reporting threshold. The other Republican with a chance, Meg Hansen, has raised a total of $37,000 — including $19,000 from herself and family.
Neither Hansen nor John Klar have shown signs of tapping into some hidden vein of conservative strength in Vermont. Indeed, their fundraising performance indicates nothing more than fringe appeal.
And there’s the irony — or crippling weakness, if you prefer — of Vermont Republicanism in the year 2020. The only proven performer is Phil Scott. So far, there’s no indication that other Republicans can copycat his formula to statewide success. Meanwhile, the party apparatus is controlled by strong conservatives and Trump true believers. They don’t lend any backing to the governor, they can’t develop or recruit legislative candidates that might support his agenda, and when they try to run like-minded candidates it’s an utter failure.
Above it all, the Good Ship Phil Scott sails blissfully through calm seas, nary a cloud in sight.