Make no mistake, the first fundraising report a candidate makes is critically important. Strong fundraising numbers at a campaign’s outset shows that donors are willing to give; after all, if you can persuade donors, you’ll have an easier time persuading voters.
That said, we think the second fundraising report is about ten times more important than the first. In the first quarter of any campaign, it’s the candidate’s responsibility to pick off all the low-hanging fruit. That usually means contributions from family members, close friends, college acquaintances, and party activists. In other words, the people who donate to your campaign right away – still critically important in generating momentum – are donors that you don’t really have to convince to give. They’re going to give anyway. That’s why we’re skeptical of candidates championing “strong” first-ever fundraising reports: they show that the people you know are willing to donate, but the real test is persuading others to open up their wallets.
Cue this press release from Tracy Kraft-Tharp, the democrat hoping to give Rep. Robert Ramirez a run for his money in what was once Debbie Benefield’s HD-29.
As of September 30th, Tracy Kraft-Tharp successfully raised nearly $15,000 in the first three months of her campaign for Colorado House District 29. Receiving contributions from more than 170 individual small donors, Tracy’s campaign has raised $13,777 plus $1000 in in-kind contributions.
Says Kraft-Tharp, “From my conversations with voters at the 1,400 doors I’ve knocked in the last six weeks, it’s pretty clear that the people of Arvada and Westminster want a Representative that shares their priorities. More than anything else, I am hearing people express concern about the future of their kids’ schools as the new budget forecasts show another round of serious cuts next year.”
In a district that remains very competitive in the most-recently adopted maps, Kraft-Tharp’s first quarter will likely draw even more attention to the district that gave the Republicans the majority in the House in 2010 by only 197 votes.
First off, we like that this press release makes sure to point out that Kraft-Tharpe “successfully raised nearly $15,000.” How do you unsuccessfully raise money? Did you have a bunch of donors trying the ol’ quarter-on-a-string trick? People who write press releases for local candidates always try to add this kind of language; we think it’s unnecessary. Those who read your press release will determine if what you did was “successful” or not.
Still, $15,000 is no small sum. The only way to determine if it was “successful,” in our mind, is to compare it to what Rep. Ramirez raised. After all, if Kraft-Tharpe raised $15,000 from low-hanging fruit and Ramirez raised $50,000 (read: not gonna happen), Kraft-Tharpe would have a hard time convincing other donors that she could win. That’s the odd thing, though: Ramirez hasn’t released any reports for his campaign this cycle. Of course, the deadline is still a couple days away, but Ramirez doesn’t even have a campaign committee yet. At least, not according to the Secretary of State.
That begs the question: what happens if you were to use the donate button on Ramirez’s website? Where does that money go? It’s a little ridiculous that nobody told the incumbent candidate – who won by a hair – to go ahead and legally prepare to run for re-election. If the candidate doesn’t have a committee, he can’t even collect contributions by the books. We have no doubts that Ramirez has been fundraising for his re-election campaign. So why hasn’t he filed?