Pre-Primary Campaign Finance: Gov and Lite Gov

Hey, the final pre-primary campaign finance filings are in! Let’s start with the races for governor and lieutenant governor.

The topline in the governor’s race is that Phil Scott isn’t even trying. For the LG race, it’s two royals and a bunch of paupers.

The incumbent governor, sitting blithely atop some crazy good poll numbers, came as close as he could to not having a campaign at all. He raised $12,660 in July, bringing his campaign total to just under $50,000. Scott took in a mere 16 donations in the entire month of July.

That $12,660 included $4,000 from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and another $4,000 from Barre City Councilor (and former mayor) Thom Lauzon. The entire rest of the human race gave Scott less than $5,000.

His Democratic opponent, Brenda Siegel, worked hard for not a lot more money. She raised $15,786 in July and $56,471 for the campaign. But while Scott had only 16 donors giving an average $813, Siegel had 191 donors in July, for an average donation of $83. Thus the problem with running a people’s campaign: You need a ton of small donors to make up for a handful on the other side.

Continuing the theme of “Phil Scott is barely even running,” his campaign spent only $4,969 in July and $26,604 for the campaign to date. Siegel spent $18,000 in July and $27,000 for the campaign to date. In terms of cash on hand, Siegel has a slight edge with nearly $30,000 to Scott’s $22,485. But we all know he can turn the spigot anytime he wants to.

Siegel is swimming against the tide in more ways than one. There are so many competitive Democratic primaries, there’s little oxygen left for the primary-free candidates. Can Siegel build momentum after the primary? Quite possibly; she continues to have a respectable number of Democratic officeholders and party regulars on her donor list. But it isn’t money that will make the difference for Siegel. It’ll take a combination of grassroots energy and a Scott faceplant or two.

As for the lieutenant governor’s race, the two Democratic front-runners are distancing themselves from the other two Dems — and the two Republicans.

David Zuckerman and Kitty Toll had impressive fundraising figures for July. Patricia Preston and Charlie Kimbell hit the wall, possibly because it’s obvious to potential donors that they don’t have a prayer. As I said the other day, I don’t know why they’re still in the race. If they got out now and endorsed Toll, she’d have a very good chance at beating Zuckerman.

You want numbers? Zuckerman raised $29,140 in July and $194,928 for the cycle. He had an impressive 351 donors in the month. Toll took in a rather astonishing $51,739 in July for a campaign total of $248,998. Zuckerman had a big edge in small donors, while Toll raked in more cash from the heavy hitters. By contrast, Preston took in $4,824 and Kimbell $12,895. But Kimbell’s total includes a $5,000 donation from himself. Kimbell has precious little cash on hand; Preston has a war chest (obligatory war chest reference) of nearly $60,000 which again makes me ask what her campaign is all about. She had the resources to make a significant push in July and she didn’t. It’s too late now.

Toll spent a ton of money in July, $95,749, including $36,000 on TV ads and $26,000 for postcard mailings. Zuckerman spent $56,505 in July. In cash on hand, Toll has a slight edge, $38K to $33K.

They can pretty much spend it all before the primary if they want, because the two Republican hopefuls are lagging far behind. Sen. Joe Benning continues to get bupkis from fellow lawmakers and party leaders. He raised $11,347 in July from 50 donors. His campaign total is only $25,478. That July total was buoyed by $5,000 from Thom Lauzon and his wife Karen. Benning has about $11,000 in cash on hand.

His whacko opponent, Gregory Thayer, continues to run an invisible campaign. He raised $352 in July, bringing his campaign total to $2,380. He’s spent $2,163, so he has less than $200 in cash.

And yet he’s only behind by 13 percentage points in a recent poll, with nearly half of Republican voters still up for grabs. If he doesn’t win the primary, he remains a good bet to win the meaningless race for lowest expenditure per vote.

Still to come: finance reports from the contested primaries for secretary of state and attorney general.


2 thoughts on “Pre-Primary Campaign Finance: Gov and Lite Gov

  1. montpelier28

    Your reporting has helped me a lot in filling out my mail in ballot. Not sure why I haven’t mailed them in all along as I can now study the candidates and make wiser choices. I used to get my thrills by walking to the polls and voting in person. No more. Thanks for your hard work.


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