Monday, November 24, 2014

HAWVER: Is governor’s race all about cash?

By MARTIN HAWVER, At the Rail | 1/13/2014

Kansas Statehouse denizens/political junkies spent most of the past month considering just what amount of campaign contributions the Democratic team challenging Gov. Sam Brownback would have to post to show that its effort is serious.

Surprisingly, though the Democratic team of House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, and former Regent and well-known Democrat Jill Docking, Wichita, came up with less than Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, they proved themselves a genuine challenge — not just an inconvenience for the incumbent.

Brownback goes into this election year with $1,990,000 in the bank, and the Davis/Docking team with $770,611, after expenses of $232,000. But the key here is that the Democrats raised more than $1 million before the political action committee/union/corporate contributions cutoff started Dec. 31.

Now, let’s see, Brownback, as of the campaign funds reporting deadline, has about 2.5 times the cash-on-hand that the Democrats have. He had the full year to raise money, the Democrats about 145 days, but the $1 million mark ... well, that has a little cachet.

Most political observers were surprised by the Democratic team fund-raising, and the halltalk in the Statehouse was that $600,000 or so would be a pretty good showing by Davis/Docking.

So, what did the numbers show?

Brownback’s obvious advantage is tempered a dab because, if you recall four years ago, the Democratic team — remember their names? Sens. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, and Kelly Kultala, D-Kansas City? — spent $637,000 for the entire campaign, while Brownback spent $2.5 million. The Democrats didn’t even have a candidate until three days after Valentine’s Day 2010. 

This year’s Democratic team is coming into the election year with serious money.

Now, remember, the new numbers are just the candidate’s accounts ... and slightly removed campaign contributors like the Chamber of Commerce and labor unions will spend millions in independent expenditures in favor of their favorites. And, after the Legislature adjourns, those folks will again be able to make contributions to the campaigns.

The initial reports show that there might be a genuine scrap ahead that is probably not just defined by the party registration of voters next fall.  And, it probably means that whatever tack the challengers want to take in their campaign, they’ll at least be able to tell people about it.

How’d you like to not have the money to challenge an opponent’s assertion that your campaign wants all cats in Kansas to be on leashes? Sobering, isn’t it?

But having money isn’t the only key to getting elected.

Just ask former Democratic Attorney General Steve Six, who spent $1.1 million in his campaign against the challenging Republican (now attorney general) Derek Schmidt, who spent $655,000.

Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report. Visit his Web site at www.hawvernews.com

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