Politics

Zuckerman outpaces Holcombe and Winburn in second quarter fundraising

Former education secretary Rebecca Holcombe, attorney Patrick Winburn and Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman are Democratic candidates for governor.

This story will be updated 

Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, who is seeking the state’s  highest office as a Progressive Democrat, outpaced his two rivals for the Democratic nomination in second quarter fundraising bringing in $130,328 since March.

Former Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe — who led all gubernatorial candidates in fundraising with $378,000 at the March deadline — received $101,276 in contributions in the second quarter and Patrick Winburn, a Bennington attorney and political newcomer who has been self-funding his campaign, ponied up $83,000 of his own money, according to the most recent finance filing. 

While Zuckerman leads the other Democratric candidates for second quarter fundraising, he still trails Holcombe — who has been campaigning for more than a year — in total dollars raised and cash on hand.

Since Zuckerman announced his bid for governor in January, he has raised a total of $288,817, while spending a total of $245,725 in the first half of the year. Zuckerman ended the second quarter with more than $68,000 cash on hand (including $26,000 from his previous campaign).

Holcombe, meanwhile has garnered more than $480,000 in contributions and begins July with more than $100,000 cash in hand.

To date Winburn, who announced he was running in March, has contributed $190,677 to his gubernatorial run.

While candidates closed the books on fundraising numbers since mid-March, campaign finance filings trickled in throughout the day and are expected to continue to be filed until the Wednesday night deadline.

Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden, who is running in a competitive four-way race for the Democratic lieutenant gubernatorial nomination, brought in slightly more than $50,000 since March, according to the most recent campaign finance filings.

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Ashe has raised a total of $80,000 for his first statewide office bid. Of that amount, he has self-funded $5,000, and family members who share the same last name have given the candidate another $3,900. He was the only lieutenant governor candidate to have filed a finance report as of publication Wednesday. 

Assistant Attorney General Molly Gray, who is also running for lieutenant governor, led the competitive Democratic field in fundraising at the March filing deadline, when she brought in $100,000 in less than two months after she began campaigning

The Scott Situation

Republican Gov. Phil Scott is seeking another term, but has put off official campaigning, fundraising or setting up a reelection apparatus.

The governor raised $8,155 in the second quarter while spending $53,754 — bolstered by the $106,000 surplus from his 2018 reelection bid.


The bulk of Scott’s cash since March went to Optimus Consulting, a data strategy group that works for center-right political campaigns and advocacy groups. Scott has paid the firm hundreds of thousands of dollars for consulting and analytics tools since he first ran for governor in 2016. 

A Stronger Vermont — the Republican Governors Association-backed PAC — has been busy on behalf of Scott while he has been busy on the state’s response to the coronavirus.

The PAC has spent more than $50,000 during the campaign cycle — including paying for digital advertisements on Facebook and other social media platforms praising Scott as well as an early June survey conducted by the Republican phone polling firm “Victory Phones,” according to the latest documents filed with the Vermont Secretary of State. 

In February 2020, the RGA gave $100,000 to A Stronger Vermont and in 2018, the PAC spent nearly $700,000 on Scott’s behalf — largely on television and online advertisements.  

Scott is being challenged on the right by a handful of other Republican candidates for governor.

John Klar, a self-proclaimed Agri-publican, raised $21,435 since March, and a total of $28,360, but only has a war chest of $11,000.

Other Statewide Candidates

Attorney General TJ Donovan, who is running unopposed in the Democratic primary, raised $7,355 since March and $17,605 overall. Donovan has a healthy surplus of $227,000 from his 2018 campaign. 

Incumbent Treasurer Beth Pearce, a Democrat, has received $12,655 in contributions since March, while only $1,000 has been given to Republican challenger Carolyn Whitney Branagan.

Secretary of State Jim Condos raised $521 in the second quarter and state Auditor Doug Hoffer took in $5,281. Hoffer’s Democratic challenger Rep. Linda Joy Sullivan, D-Dorset, raised $9,765 and has more than $10,000 on hand.

The political parties

After a lucrative fundraising event in February, the Vermont Democratic Party has been busy in the intervening months, spending more than $115,000 this campaign cycle. Since March, the party has raised $18,125 and has about $60,000 in its coffers.

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AT&T has given the Vermont Democratic Party $1,500 while Sen. Debbie Ingram, D-Chittenden, who is running for lieutenant governor, has given the party $10,000 since April; Winburn’s campaign has donated $1,250; and Zuckerman contributed $750.

The Vermont GOP brought in no contributions in the second quarter and only has around $9,000 in reserves, while the state’s Progressive Party acquired $18,874 in donations since March and has spent nearly $100,000 during the 2020 campaign cycle.

Races to Watch 

A Chittenden County Senate race with one open seat can be an expensive affair — let alone when there are two seats up for grabs.  

In 2016, the last time two incumbents didn’t run, seven new candidates and four incumbents brought in a combined $293,279 for the primary and general election.

This year there are nine newcomers vying to become members of the upper chamber in Montpelier in addition to the district’s four other incumbents seeking reelection: Sens. Ginny Lyons and Michael Sirotkin, both Democrats, and Sens. Philip Baruth and Christopher Pearson who are running on a Democrat/Progressive ticket.

Lyons reported that she has only raised $20 thus far in the campaign and has spent $11.74 on office supplies from Staples.

“This expense is another shared expense among Senators Sirotkin, Pearson and Lyons. The total charge was $35.30 and $11.74 represents Senator Lyons’ share,” a comment on the finance report reads about the June 28 purchase.

Physician Louis Meyers has self funded his campaign for state Senate with $10,500 and has spent $1,335 on radio and social media advertising.

Former Burlington City Councilor Adam Roof has raised $24,829 and has spent nearly $10,000 on the campaign.

Assistant Attorney General David Scherr received $21,983 since March and has spent $3,148, while June Heston, the former president of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Vermont, has raised $10,750 — of which $5,525 is her own money.

In addition to the Senate race, there are also open seats in Chittenden County’s House districts.

Rep. Johanna Donovan, D-Burlington, and her district mate Rep. Mary Sullivan have both announced they are stepping away from the Statehouse, as has Rep. Diana Gonzalez, a Progressive, who represented Winooski.

With both Donovan and Sullivan bowing out, that leaves the Chittenden-6-5 district up for grabs. Five candidates are running in the Democratic primary.

Tiffany Bluemle, who was the executive director of Vermont Works for Women for 17 years, brought in $13,290 and has already spent $3,483 on the House race. 

Gabrielle Stebbins, who works as a senior consultant with Energy Futures Group — a clean energy consulting firm — and is the former executive director of Renewable Energy Vermont, has received $3,971 in contributions for her House bid.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to include Gov. Phil Scott’s second quarter data on July 2 and 11:47 a.m.

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Kit Norton

About Kit

Kit Norton is the general assignment reporter at VTDigger. He is originally from eastern Vermont and graduated from Emerson College in 2017 with a degree in journalism. In 2016, he was a recipient of The Society of Environmental Journalists' Emerging Environmental Journalist award. Kit has worked at PRI's weekly radio environmental program, Living on Earth, and has written for the online news site Truthout.

Email: [email protected]

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