Christina Nolan’s longshot bid for U.S. Senate got quite a bit longer last week, with the filing of first-quarter campaign finance reports. For starters, as expected, U.S. Rep. Peter Welch did what he’s always done — fundraise the hell out of his opposition. He pulled in $839,000 and spent roughly half of that, bringing his total warchest to a daunting $2.96 million.
Nolan? She received $157,000 in donations and spent about one-third of that, leaving her a smidge over $100K in cash on hand.
Thirteen of Nolan’s donors gave the maximum $2,900 for the primary campaign. Eight of those 13 also gave an additional $2,900, which must be reserved for the general election. That adds up to $37,700. One other person gave $5,000, of which $2,100 must be spent on the general. So her effective cash on hand — money she can spend between now and August 11 — is only $61,747. Which means that right now, today, Welch’s kitty is effectively an astounding forty-eight times as large as Nolan’s.
Ouch. Double ouch with nuts. I was going to make a David v. Goliath reference, but this is more like Bambi v. Godzilla. If this race wasn’t done and dusted already (hint: it was), these filings remove any remaining whispers of doubt.
But wait, there’s more! Bad news, that is.
Nolan’s donor base is quite small. It won’t help her future efforts that four generous supporters can’t give any more for the primary race, the eight double-dippers are tapped out for the entire campaign, and the $5,000 donor can only give another $800 for the general.
(The doublemax givers, if you’re interested, include country musician Kenny Chesney, convenience store magnate Skip Vallee, ultraconservative ultradonor Lenore Broughton, Burlington developer Angelo Pizzagalli, and Zachary Nicholson, who owns Zachary’s Pizza in South Burlington. Angelo’s brother James was the $5,000 man.)
On the other hand, famed Hollywood producer Bradford Broyles donated a measly $250, so there’s a well she can go back to.
But the really bad news for Nolan is the dearth of support from national sources. If national conservative groups thought she stood a chance, they’d be dumping Scrooge McDuck-level riches into Vermont. But they’re not. Nolan received a mere $11,000 from national PACs: Five grand apiece from PACs controlled by Sens. Susan Collins and John Barrasso, and $1,000 from the Log Cabin Republicans.
Of course, the real moneybags can always step in by donating to Nolan or mounting anti-Welch campaigns that are effectively limitless. But it hasn’t happened yet, and dollars to donuts it won’t happen unless Nolan enjoys an unanticipated surge in opinion polls.
Whenever I write about campaign finance I add the caveat “Money is only one measure of a campaign’s strength.” But in this case, the financial disparity is far too much to overcome. Besides, Nolan’s campaign is not a grassroots effort; her spending is heavily weighted toward expensive consultancies. (There’s no trace of staff salaries in her report.) One expenditure of note: She spent $16,066 on Junction Consulting, which is the firm owned by the very conservative Jay Shepard. He probably told her to hit hard on critical race theory and transgender panic. Waste of money.
So. It’s over. Congratulations to Senator-Elect-In-Waiting Peter Welch.