Monday, April 6, 2015

Who has the money in the race for mayor how much does it matter?

I have examined the financial reports of all of the mayoral candidates for the campaign finance report period that ended Jan. 15, 2015. That period started when they filed the form appointing a campaign treasurer so it may have been different for different candidates.  Some candidates, in the case of Megan Barry and Charles Bone, filed a mid-year disclosure back in July 2014 and had funds on hand at the start of this reporting period. I have not examined those reports for the mid-year filing but have requested them from the election commission and will examine them when I get them.

The first quarter report for the period from Jan.16 though March 30th are due to be filed on April 10.  As soon as they are filed and posted by the Election Commission to their website, I will be analyzing them and reported who is supporting which candidate. I think it can be instructive to know where the candidates are getting their money from. It gives you an idea who their friends are and to whom they may be beholding if they get elected and who it is that you know that believes enough in the candidate to financially contribute to the candidate. If someone I admire and respect contributes to a candidate that makes me think they may be worthy of my support.

By all accounts, this will be the most money ever spent on a mayor's race. The seven major candidates are all wealthy and can put mass amounts of money into their campaign. I am not sure how wealthy each are or how much they are willing to risk of their own money but lack of money should not hinder any of them from running a good campaign. Probably by August 7th, we will be sick of TV ads, mail pieces, radio ads and robo calls. But it won't end then unless one candidate gets more than 50% of the vote and with seven major candidates in the race, I don't think anyone will get 50%, so the campaigns will continue a while longer.

Money may not win this race. I assume Bill Freeman is the wealthiest of the candidates and is willing to spend million to win it, but more than an adequate amount of money to spend on the race may not be a big advantage.  No one candidate is permitted to buy up all the available advertising spots on TV and freeze out his competitors.  I am not exactly sure of the rules, but it is my understanding, that if one candidate has pre-bought most of the available TV spots and another candidate wants to buy a spot, then the candidate who had first purchased them, must release them back to the media outlet and they will be made available at the same price to the opponent.

Also, I don't think that once one has received four or five pieces of mail from a candidate that the sixth, seventh or eighths piece has much impact. I am not a campaign professional, but there must be diminishing returns to saturating the voters with your message.

Another factor that makes me think money will not necessarily win this race is that voter turnout will probably be low. It is amazing how few people care about local politics. Among people I know many of them just can't generate much interest in a local election although they may be passionate about national politics. They may want to complain about the quality of schools, or lack of sidewalks or high taxes but they don't care enough to vote in local elections.  If this election coincided with a more high profile race such as a presidential election, then many people would vote for president and then vote for the mayoral candidate who had the most name recognition, but there is nothing to draw people to the polls this election unless they care about local government. Which, in a way, is a good thing. That means the people who do vote are more serious and are not going to be swayed by name recognition alone or a catchy slogan, but are more likely to carefully consider their choices. So, if a candidate has adequate money, more than adequate money may not be of that much help.

Below is the spread sheet of showing the money raised by each candidate. Fox leads the pack now, but that very well may change after the April 10th reports are released. To see what stood out when I examined their financial report, click on their name.  If you would like to see the complete report of a candidate, follow this link.

Balance on hand at start
Funds raised
Funds spent
Balance on hand  at end
Kenneth Eaton

I will also soon be reporting on the financial contributions to candidates for Vice Mayor, Council-at-large and council district races. I am in the process of reviewing them now. Stay tuned.

If you are a candidate for office, if you will send me your announcements or press releases or position paper on a topic of interest, I will most likely post it. If I post a candidate's press release I will note it as such and my posting of a press release of a candidate should not be construed as my endorsement. I will be making it clear which candidate I am endorsing. I do not generally post annoncememts of funrd raising events except for candiates I support.

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