Pre-Primary Campaign Finance: AG and SoS

Previously: Gov and Lite-Gov.

Well, the lively Democratic primary contests for attorney general and secretary of state continue to be lively, according to the latest campaign finance reports.

…with one sad exception. To judge by his campaign finance filing, Montpelier City Clerk John Odum has pretty much folded his bid for secretary of state. He’d been trailing in the money race with his two competitors, Deputy Secretary Chris Winters and Rep. Sarah Copeland Hanzas, but in July he fell off a cliff. Odum raised $375 (from four donors) and spent $653. His only donation of more than $100 came from Montpelier property owner Fred Bashara, who kicked in $250.

As for the front-runners, Winters has modest edges on Copeland Hanzas with one exception: He has more than $25,000 in cash on hand to SCH’s $4,545. What he’s going to accomplish with that money between now and next Tuesday, I don’t know. If he loses, he may regret opportunities missed. The winner, after all, won’t need much of a bankroll to defeat whoever the Republicans dig up. And unspent cash won’t do the loser any good at all.

From the top: Winters raised $13,100 in July for a campaign total of $73,763. Copeland Hanzas netted $12,004 to reach $51,116 for the campaign. Not bad considering that she got a late start in the race.

Both candidates have their share of prominent Democrats on their donor lists. Copeland Hanzas can boast nine fellow lawmakers (she’d previously gotten donations from a lot more of ’em) as well as megadonors Jane and William Stetson ($4,000). Other names you might know: former Burlington city councilor and noted expert on women Ed Adrian, former VDP chair Jake Perkinson, and Statehouse lobbyists Todd Bailey, Adam Necrason and Patti Komline. Her major expenses in July were for a pair of postcard mailings, price tag $11,322.

Winters’ roster includes three lawmakers, Tom Stevens, Maida Townsend and Robert Hooper, plus Seven Days co-founder Pamela Polston, former US Attorney Tristram Coffin, and former budget lodging shill Tom Bodett. The latter three gave $500 each. Winters also spent big on postcards; three mailings totaling $13,861.

Turning to the race to succeed interim AG Susanne Young, who succeeded TJ “Mr. Roblox” Donovan, his ex-deputy Charity Clark holds a modest edge in fundraising and an inexplicably massive advantage in cash on hand, which is kind of useless when the primary is less than a week away and many people have already voted. Clark’s bank balance reads $66,304 compared to Washington County State’s Attorney Rory Thibault’s, which stands at $25,321. That’s a hell of a lot of money, and I’m not sure what they’re saving it for. The Democratic winner can coast to victory in November.

Clark raised $35,529 in July, bringing her to $115,431 for the cycle. Pause for a moment and let that sink in: Clark has only spent 43% of the money she raised. That seems sub-optimal to me.

Notable Clark donors: the New England Cable &: Telecommunications Association ($4,210) and former governor Peter Shumlin’s campaign account ($1,500). At a time when nonprofit communications union districts are eating away at Vermont’s telecoms customer base, I’m a bit leery of the big cash from commercial providers.

Thibault raised $10,343 last month and a total of $84,152 for the campaign to date. (Thibault’s total is less impressive than it looks because it includes more than $12,000 from himself.) He also got in-kind donations totaling $2,590 from Holly Leach of Barre, who supplied Thibault’s famous campaign pinwheels.

In terms of cash, Thibault’s notable donors include renewable energy developer David Blittersdorf ($750), outgoing Treasurer Beth Pearce’s campaign fund ($500), the Hankerson Law Group ($1,000), and former Burlington Airport chief Gene Richards ($250).

As ever, the usual disclaimer applies: Money can only do so much. What it can’t do is (a) predict the outcomes or (b) by itself win you an election. But it sure helps.


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