The Dem Statewides Are Doing Just Fine, Thanks

In a post following the September 1 campaign finance deadline, I noted that “three of the big Democratic primary winners emptied their coffers in an effort to get across the finish line.” It put them in a potentially hazardous position for the general campaign.

Well, it would have if their Republican opponents weren’t all unknown, unfunded, and largely unloved.

I speak of Charity Clark (attorney general), David Zuckerman (lieutenant governor), and Sarah Copeland Hanzas (secretary of state). Zuckerman had $16,771 in the bank on the first of September; Clark actually entered September with a $1,200 shortfall, Copeland Hanzas had about $12,000 on hand, but only because she reported loaning her campaign $14,000. So, according to her own report, she had a $12,000 deficit outside of her own pocketbook.

Well, hold on a minute. According to her campaign manager Lizzy Carroll, that $14,000 number was a mistake. The actual self-loan was $3,500, which is not insignificant but it does make her bottom line look a lot better. The deficit falls from $12,000 to about $1,500. (She carried forward a $1,160 surplus from past campaigns, which would lower her real deficit to less than $400.)

So, where are the three of them now?

Copeland Hanzas raised $10,035 in September and spent only $4,345, so she’s back in the black. Only by about $6,000, but she’s got nothing to worry about since her Republican challenger is the genial Mad Hatter of #vtpoli, H. Brooke Paige, who has yet to file a campaign finance report this year because he hasn’t raised or spent more than 500 bucks. Her only September expenditure more then $550 was $1,810 in salary for Carroll.

Clark put her money troubles safely in the rear view by raising $22,408 and spending only $5,202. Entering October, she had $16,996 on hand, which ought to be plenty of money to turn back the “challenge” of last-minute Republican unknown Michael Tagliavia. He was the only one of the no-hoper Republican statewides who actually filed a campaign finance report.

But there’s a big fat asterisk attached to that factoid. Tagliavia raised a total of $2,704. $1,040 came from himself and $1,000 came from Judy Rana, who appears to share a home address with him. From the rest of humanity, Tagliavia raised only $664 from a total of five donors. He spent $1,499, including $944 for yard signs. I don’t think Clark is shaking in her boots.

Zuckerman faces the most robust Republican challenger — or should I say the least ineffectual — in Sen. Joe Benning. Fortunately for him, Farmer Dave has by far the most fundraising appeal of anyone mentioned in this post. He leads the field in unique donors with 1,321. No other statewide (non-Congressional) candidate has more than 1,000. Zuckerman raised $43,739 in September, bringing his campaign total to $280,426. He’s spent $253,726, so he entered October with $26,700 in cash on hand.

That’s not a huge amount, but he’s got a financial edge on Benning. The good Senator raised $21,694 in September, bringing his campaign total to $60,421. He’s received money from only 215 donors. He entered October with a smidge more than $20,000 on hand. But Zuckerman has a clear advantage in unique donors — and most of those people have given small gifts over and over, with plenty of room to give more if called upon.

I’ve said it before, but one of the stories of this campaign season is that despite the failure of his run for governor, Zuckerman still has a broad base of committed supporters. His appeal is undiminished, and he is still a top contender for the next opening in Congress or the governor’s office.

So. Clark, Copeland Hanzas and Zuckerman spent heavily to get through the August primary and, by usual standards, they emerged in weak financial positions. They’ve partially refilled their coffers since, but only modestly so. Lucky for them, the VTGOP is squandering whatever opportunity it had in 2022 by failing to recruit a single credible candidate besides Benning. They’ll cruise to victory in November.

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