Gov. Peter Shumlin, the incumbent Democrat, reigns supreme on the fundraising front with 10 times more money on hand than his opponent, Republican Randy Brock.
The Shumlin campaign reports $170,000 in new money this month. His war chest now tops $1.165 million, and he has $1 million on hand. With just three weeks left in the campaign, Shumlin has spent less than 15 percent of his total take so far in this election cycle on advertising, staff, mailings and polls.
Alex MacLean, his campaign manager, says “he will be on TV before the end of the campaign.”
In fact, the governor plans to make a mass media buy on Tuesday and an ad will be up later this week.
More than $20,000 of the governor’s most recent inflow of cash came from California donors who attended a LGBT fundraising event in Los Angeles in mid-September. Shumlin spearheaded the passage of the gay marriage bill in Vermont in 2009.
Randy Brock, the Republican candidate for governor, brought in just $45,000 in the last month, bringing his total to $692,322. Of that amount, the state senator gave himself $300,000. Brock hasn’t said whether he will self-fund another injection of cash. He has spent $585,325 so far and has roughly $100,000 on hand for the remaining three weeks of the campaign.
Synopsis of downticket races
Incumbents tend to have the home team advantage on the fundraising court — regardless of party. Though there is one exception this election season: Bill Sorrell, the Vermont Attorney General, is struggling after a bruising primary race, to keep up with his largely self-funded opponent Jack McMullen.
Phil Scott, the Republican incumbent, raised $54,000 in the last month. In all, he has amassed about $150,000 and he has spent about $117,000. At the moment, he has about $33,000 on hand. Scott’s remaining funds are roughly equivalent to what his challenger Cassandra Gekas has raised in total. Gekas, a newcomer to politics who is running as a Progressive/Democrat, has brought in a total of $38,830.
Beth Pearce, the Democratic incumbent, raised $53,000 over the last 30 days, bringing her grand total up to $186,000. In the last two weeks, she has spent $40,000 on TV ad buys and has invested in three campaign staffers. She has $47,904 in cash left. Wendy Wilton has raised 40 percent what Pearce has so far, with a total of $75,000 in contributions, and she’s spent most of that. She has about $5,000 remaining in her campaign kitty.
The state auditor’s race is wide open this year, but the fundraising for this statewide office is lopsided anyway. Vince Illuzzi, the Republican state senator from the Northeast Kingdom, has a larger stash of cash — $75,000 — than his Democratic opponent, Doug Hoffer, who has brought in about $47,000. Both men have dipped into their own pockets. Illuzzi gave himself $25,000; Hoffer gave his campaign a loan of $10,000.
Vermont Attorney General
Bill Sorrell, the incumbent attorney general, was forced to spend a wad of cash in the near-miss primary against TJ Donovan. He won that race by about 700 votes, and money wise has been limping through the General Election. Jack McMullen, his GOP rival, has loaned himself $152,000 and has spent $176,000 so far. He has about $24,000 on hand. Sorrell meanwhile has spent about $138,000 and has about $3,000 left over for the remaining three weeks of the campaign. Nevertheless, the attorney general is so confident of his victory that he let go of his campaign manager Mike Pieciak several weeks ago.
The biggest GOP spender is outside the race
Lenore Broughton, the force behind Vermonters First, has contributed a half million dollars to the conservative super PAC in the last campaign finance reporting period.
As of Monday, Broughton has given a grand total of $683,961 to Vermonters First since the PAC was launched this summer. Of that total, $534,621 has been spent on advertising ($200,000), robotic calls to prospective voters ($108,291) and mailings ($226,330). On Oct. 11, Broughton spent $17,500 on a public opinion poll.
Vermonters First has funded broadcast advertising campaigns to boost Republican candidates, including Sen. Vince Illuzzi, who is running for state auditor, and Rutland city Treasurer Wendy Wilton, who is in a tight race for the state treasurer’s office. These ads have focused on positive messages about the candidates.
Two recent ads, however, have been direct attacks on Democrats, namely Gov. Peter Shumlin’s decision to release a financing plan proposal for a single-payer health care system after the election and a discussion in the Legislature about lowering and broadening the state sales tax.
The health care ad drew the ire of a small group of single-payer health care protesters who marched from Burlington’s Old North End on Thursday to deliver a letter to Broughton, imploring her to stop her ad campaign because they said it would have “serious financial and health consequences for almost every Vermonter.”
Vermonters First has about $130,000 on hand.