Does Campaign Funding Matter?

Campaign-Finance-PhotoFL District 8 – the Republican Financial Challenge

By Steve Pickering

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Florida’s 8th Congressional District has raised more money for the 2010 election than all but six other Congressional districts.   Over $5,054,102 was raised by June 30th, according to campaign finance reports prepared for the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

Unfortunately for Republicans, over $3.5 million of that money was raised by the Democratic incumbent, Alan Grayson.  To make matters worse, more than $400,000 of the remainder belonged to two Republicans who are no longer in the race.

So, with less than two weeks before the primary, how do the Republican candidates compare financially?  The summary chart below provides a snapshot of each candidate’s campaign finances on June 30th.

Name Received Spent Cash Avail
Fanelli $43,165 $41,710 $1,452
Kelly $223,275 $85,299 $137,975
Long $220,065 $110,883 $109,181
O’Donoghue $528,092 $229,622 $298,470
Sullivan $56,254 $47,322 $8,931
Webster $240,944 $75,974 $164,970

Note:  No published data was available for Ross Bieling.

What does this mean to Republicans?  First, it shows that they have a long way to go in order to become competitive with Mr. Grayson.  Naturally, he is not sitting still, having announced a “money bomb” fundraiser for August 23rd, the day before the upcoming primary election.  His goal is to collect $300,000 on that one day, in addition to his other fund-raising efforts.

From a financial standpoint, the situation is looking quite grim for the Republican side, but there are some optimistic signs.  Bruce O’Donoghue raised over $520,000 in the first five months of his campaign.  Daniel Webster, who entered the race at the end of April, raised more than $240,000 in two months.  Both men have extensive networks of contacts, and are likely to experience funding surges if they win the primary.  Kurt Kelly has also shown strong fund-raising ability.  The primary winner can expect financial support from the national and state Republican Party organizations, as well as national organizations with Political Action Committees (PAC’s).

There is one caveat attached to outside funding from PAC’s and party organizations.  Typically, these entities fund a candidate using a one-to-one formula that is based on funds already collected by the candidate.  In other words, a candidate who has raised $100,000 can expect to receive roughly an additional $100,000.  Although Alan Grayson’s stinging attacks on conservatives may increase the funds available to unseat him, the general election candidate should expect a very competitive funding environment.

Although money alone does not create a good candidate, it is the fuel which all political campaign engines require.  In the face of the Grayson financial juggernaut, the Republican primary winner will need to shift into fund-raising overdrive to make a credible impact.  No matter how good a candidate might be, substantial financial resources will be  necessary to create name recognition and spread the candidate’s message.

What can you do to help?

  1. Vote wisely in the primary.  Evaluate each candidate’s ability, platform, and appeal.  Pay particular attention to each candidate’s financial performance in the chart above.  This is not the year for experimenting with a candidate who has marginal fund-raising ability.
  2. Plan to volunteer for the general election campaign once the primary winner is announced.  Talk to friends, family, and neighbors about the candidate.  Bring others into the campaign.  Encourage everyone you know to register for voting, and get them out to the polls on or before November 2nd.
  3. If you are able, give generously to the campaign.  If you are not able to give personally,  consider inspiring others who have the resources to contribute.

The 2010 election will be critical for our country, but it will be even more critical for Florida’s District 8.  Alan Grayson has established himself as one of the most liberal and abrasively vocal members of Congress.  He shuns his constituents, and ignores their needs and wishes.  He is an embarrassment to the people of District 8!

Mr. Grayson CAN be defeated, but conservatives and Republicans have a steep hill to climb in order to conduct a winning campaign.  In order too send him packing, it is time to dust off those campaign shoes, and donate that coin jar to the general election campaign…  The time to act is now.

Resources Used to Prepare This Article:

Postscript:  Of course, each candidate’s financial situation has changed since June 30th, but the figures shown are reasonable indicators of the general financial direction for each campaign.  The next FEC reports are not due to be published until shortly after October 15th, and will show data accurate on September 30th.

Name Received Spent Cash Avail
Fanelli $43,165 $41,710 $1,452
Kelly $223,275 $85,299 $137,975
Long $220,065 $110,883 $109,181
O’Donoghue $528,092 $229,622 $298,470
Sullivan $56,254 $47,322 $8,931
Webster $240,944 $75,974 $164,970

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