Fundraising & Our US Senate Candidates

Michael Booth’s Raising money an “unholy” quest in Colorado Senate races

in todays DenverPost gets it just about right. It should be required reading for every candidate, every possible candidate and everyone who posts here on CoPols about fundraising and campaign funding.

Fundraising is painful hard work.  It’s like telemarketing and direct sales with a largely intangible product that is uncomfortable for most people to pitch aggressively – themselves.  And while successful candidates must get good at it, it is unlikely it is ever either the motivation or the talent of any candidate which causes a candidate to run.  I suspect most are new to it, and most are not very comfortable doing t.

But all the successful candidates realize the necessity and get good at it, or at least good enough.

In the current Colorado election cycle we have several races that are good examples of the variety of approaches, also known as what to do and what not to do.  Of course, the voters ultimately decide and conventional wisdom can be thrown over by other events. Good candidates sometimes break through despite weak fundraising – but mostly not. Sometimes a candidate can run and win against demographics and other factors, but mostly not.

We’ll find out this summer if HIckenlooper with his later start can catch up to McInnis.

We’ll know in August if:

–  Wiens’s choice to self finance was a good one.

– Bennet’s ability to outspend Romanoff matters in the primary.

– independent expenditures on Buck’s behalf will be as effective as Norton’s ability to spend what she raises.

– what affect  Maes’s inability or unwillingness to raise anywhere near as much as McInnis will have.

And then in November we’ll know if:

– Flerlage’s inability or unwillingness to raise 7 figures really matters in CD6

– what size budget will be required to carry CD4

– and so on.

It has been argued that I and others have made the claim that the candidate who has the most funding, wins .  I never said that, and I doubt anyone who pays attention to elections has.  It is sometimes true that the candidate with the biggest budget wins- Polis 08, Bloomberg 09, Obama 08.  

And I am sure it also sometimes true that a good candidate with much less to budget than his opposition nevertheless goes on to win. Just as I am sure that good candidates have sometimes won despite the relevant demographics and other factors.

But most of the time, candidates need enough budget to be competitive.

The DenPo article shows that while Colorado is still generally lower budget for Senate races than other states, recent experience suggests $12-15-million is “competitive.”  It’s not about having the most it’s about having enough.  What we don’t have recent data for is  the budget for a competitive US Senate primary. We’re in uncharted waters here.

Buck, Norton, Wiens – three different approaches so far and all three will be on the ballot, if they want it.

Buck and Norton have done nothing to suggest they are anything less than motivated and committed.  However Wiens gives the impression that he is willing but not that motivated. He’s raised very little money, and even his self contribution is mostly in the form of a loan.  

By all appearances Buck wants it- but most of his resources so for have come from independent sources. His strongest fundraising quarter to date in 1Q  should change things. Norton deciding to withdraw from the state assembly and only petition is probably going to make getting on the ballot more expensive for her than it will be for Buck who just needs to show up next month to make ballot.

In the D Senate primary, so far we have two candidates with gigantically different fundraising results.  The Post article says “to date Democratic candidates have raised at least $6.8 million”.  Which is sort of like saying when I’m in a room with Bill Gates, our average net worth is $20 billion.

The Post article gives the impression that Romanoff has been focused on the grind of fundraising, though it’s not clear if that’s a change from last year or a continuation.  I suspect the addition of Romjue, Trippi, Cadell, Lake, etc meant a meaningfully more fundraising focused 1Q.  We will know this week what the number is, though it may or may not tell us weather the focus changed. A small number (less than $500k)  may mean AR wasn’t putting in the time.  Or it may mean that he put in the time but generated small donors or too few.  A big number (more than $1mm) may mean AR was more focused on fundraising. Or it may mean he was more successful after caucus and the earliest assemblies.

I predicted here on CoPols that Romanoff’s 1Q would be $1.2mm.  While at least one Romanoff supporter claimed that I was just trying to set an unnecessarily high bar, to “play an expectation game”, or something, I did the math differently.

Romjue, Caddell, Lake, Trippi were announced in Dec and Jan. So if they have had positive impact on fundraising focus and/or success it wasn’t in the 4Q.  If they haven’t had positive impact on fundraising- why are they still on the payroll?

Then 11,500 Democratic caucus goers said they prefer Romanoff.  If they each donated just $100, that’s $1.1-million.

So if anyone is playing an expectation game, it’s the Romanoff supporters who suggest that another $300k or $400k quarter is a great demonstration and strong enough. Maybe.  

We don’t have great data about how much is enough to run a competitive primary.  But here’s the thing – the primary ends in mid-August (approx 16 weeks from now)  just 6 weeks before the general election ballots are in kitchens around Colorado.  Is 6 weeks enough time to run a general election campaign this year in Colorado? It feels a little thin.  

Because I much prefer the D candidate whichever one it is, I prefer the D candidate be able to start campaigning for the general not later than July. June even.

If Romanoff doesn’t put up $1.1million + for 1Q, then it means Trippi, Romjue, Lake, Caddell didn’t have positive impact on the campaign’s fundraising and it raises the question whether they can going forward. And it means that the 11,500 caucus goers who “prefer” Romanoff, may be willing to show up and caucus and assemble for him, but they wouldn’t write a $100 check. Not even once.  

22 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. harrydoby says:

    After reading that article this morning, I remarked to myself yet again that we need to get the fundraising out of politics.  Most likely through public funding.

    But then I realized that for that to work, we’d also need some process to both encourage candidates, but not fund every whacko with an ego to run for office.

    If we just had a process of say, a caucus system where potential candidates could meet and gain support of party activists.  They’d probably need, say a minimum fo 15% support to start, rising to at least 30% to make the ballot…

    Or perhaps a way to gather a significant number of signatures to petition onto a primary.  That would demonstrate at least some organizational ability and support.

    Yeah, public financing of campaigns would work if we could just somehow invent one or both of those systems to groom and vet candidates willing and able to serve the general public.

    • ardy39 says:

      In Arizona, in order to receive public financing, a candidate for state office must:

      a) agree to limits on spending


      b) first collect $5 contributions from 220 to 4,410 citizens. (The number varies depending on the office sought. If running for a seat with a district smaller than statewide, all the contributions must be from citizens within the district.)

      The spending limits appear crazily low, but maybe media costs less in AZ? But some modification of this might be worth considering for CO.

      Anyway, the requirement for a number of small dollar contributions ensures that the potential candidate has at least some real support. This should keep most of the whackos off the public campaign dole.

    • Ray Springfield says:

      They set they rules.

  2. RedGreen says:

    Romjue, Caddell, Lake, Trippi were announced in Dec and Jan. So if they have had positive impact on fundraising focus and/or success it wasn’t in the 4Q.  If they haven’t had positive impact on fundraising- why are they still on the payroll?

    Caddell isn’t “still on the payroll” — for one thing, he was never on the payroll, he was a volunteer advisor, and he was also famously dismissed in late February.

    I think we’ll also know before November whether

    – Flerlage’s inability or unwillingness to raise 7 figures really matters in CD6

    • MADCO says:

      was a volunteer- but whatever he was volunteering to do could not possibly have had impact on AR fundraising until 1Q.

      And I feel pretty confident we knew last Fall how Flerlage’s thin fundraising was going to turn out.  But the universe is a mysterious place and I’m open to being surprised – a candidate could win with no money. The Cubs could win 100 games this year.

      • RedGreen says:

        by your question why he is “still” on the payroll, since he was shown the door almost two months ago. You’re right, though, those new hires wouldn’t have had much effect on Q4 fundraising.

  3. oldbenkenobi says:

    This is the most important story on politics we’ve seen in the DP for a long time.  We need to change how we fund campaigns. We need to start talking about how instead of accepting the status quo.

    That’s why I think Romanoff’s stand on fundraising is more than just a stunt.  And if he can win this primary it would be a huge victory against money-drenched politics.  If he wins, it won’t be because of Romjue, etc. — it will be because of all the relationships he’s built with Coloradans over the last 15+ years.  

    You don’t need as much money if every voter knows you.  Of course, he probably hasn’t met every voter in Colorado but I doubt anyone has come closer to doing so.  

    • MADCO says:

      Yeah the rules sortof suck – sort of like the American League teams that opposed the DH. As far as I know none of them just let the pitcher hit anyway.

      I would rather AR campaigned on serious campaign finance reform.  At least it’s an issue.

      But to throw his hands up and say all this expensive media ruins the process therefore I will voluntarily forgo the media that has come to dominate campaigns of the recent 40 or 50 years doesn’t seem to be so much an issue as an …impractical “stand.”

    • bluemountains says:

      He announced when Bennet had almost $3 mil in the bank. That’s just plain ‘Tarded.

      I, too, can’t wait till Andrew sails into the senate on good vibes and reforms campaign finance laws. He’s so…..awesome.

  4. bluemountains says:

    Is both extremely annoying and a little bit exciting. I had estimated 450k on several diaries. But this wait is making me think it might be even less.

    It is important to note that most of Andrew’s staff is unpaid. While that does keep down burn, it encourages a staff composed of amateurs.  This organization is being run by “volunteer staff”. It may seem fun to have “volunteer staff” set up a $25 fundraiser at a restaurant,  but when it is the core of your fundraising you are in deep trouble. $25 is a state house race ask. The largest ask I have seen come from his campaign is $250.

    And how much CoH does he have? Direct mail isn’t free. Chadderdon and Romjue and Lake aren’t free.  If he has burnt what little he had, his totals might be comparable to Buck.

    The pedigree of Bennet’s organization….. they might as well be on different planets. Folks, sit back and watch Bennet command the airwaves over the next four months.  

    • MADCO says:

      Funny- the wait is making me think it is going to be even more.

      11,500 x 100 = 1.15 million.  


      all the $10 and $25 stuff



      • Ray Springfield says:

        We will hear from reality czech, The imperial lizard of the AR anonymous klan (ARAK) about how his fearless leader has only pure money.

        • Middle of the Road says:

          Am I the only one that finds your turn of phrase offensive? Your inference to the KKK is just disgusting.

          • Ray Springfield says:

            If you’ve ever experienced anonymous harassment then you’d know it to be so.

            AR should stop it.

            • Middle of the Road says:

              If you know better, start acting like it.

              • Ray Springfield says:

                and his anonymous fallacious attacks should stop

              • Ray Springfield says:

                I’ve seen more bigotry from my background than you can ever imagine.

                If AR supporters want to be vile then they should post under their own names.Other wise, I see no difference.

                • Raphael says:

                  please do us all a favor and shut the hell up. You have become no better than Sharon Hanson, JO, and others like them from other campaigns. It makes me as a Bennet supporter disgusted to share a stage with you, and just as Sharon et al. make AR look bad through their posting so do you for Senator Bennet. Please either clean up your act or stop entirely.

                  • Ray Springfield says:

                    The truth hurts.  

                    • Ray Springfield says:

                      In Colorado, incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet was accused by his Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff of doing Goldman’s bidding in return for cash. “An indicted firm is no place to turn for campaign contributions,” said Mr. Romanoff, who called on Mr. Bennet to return the $6,300 he has received from the Goldman executives.

                      Being bought for 6300? Maybe if was 630k the statement might be more acceptable.

                      6300 is silly.Simply stating return the 6300 would have been fine. It is AR that has become the Sharon Hanson of the Democratic party.

  5. Ray Springfield says:

    or shut the fuck up.

    That’s the truth

Leave a Reply

Comment from your Facebook account

You may comment with your Colorado Pols account above (click here to register), or via Facebook below.