“Money, Money, Money”
Money makes the political world go ’round and according to the latest numbers, the leaders in RI’s “Hot” political contests are Governor Carcieri in the Governor’s race and Sheldon Whitehouse in the Senate race.
In the Governor’s race:
The poll numbers may be narrowing, but Republican Governor Carcieri still holds a comfortable fundraising lead over his Democratic challenger, Lt. Gov. Charles J. Fogarty, according to reports yesterday from both campaigns.
But the Fogarty camp believes it, too, has something to crow about in that the lieutenant governor has now raised enough — $226,000 during the last quarter — to qualify for the maximum in public matching funds available to a candidate for governor: $981,000.
“We raised more than we thought we needed,” said [Fogarty spokesman Adam] Bozzi of the rules surrounding the campaign subsidy program, which matches smaller contributions at a rate of $2 for every $1 raised and larger contributions dollar-for-dollar up to the fundraising limit. (Participating candidates are also bound by spending limits, which for a gubernatorial candidate this year would be $1.962 million, unless an opponent spends more; then there is some leeway.)
Carcieri campaign manager Kenneth McKay said the first-term governor had “the best-fundraising quarter I think we’ve ever had,” after raising “over $400,000” between April 1 and June 30.
“For the end of the quarter, we will show close to $950,000 cash on hand,” he said.
McKay said Carcieri is not seeking matching funds, in part, because “the limits on what you can raise and spend are too tight for us to request it.” He said Carcieri had one of his “strongest” fundraising quarters yet because “people are responding to his message and they like what he’s been doing.”
“The governor has been changing the debate, challenging the system and creating jobs. . . . People are still responding to that,” McKay said. “The other side has to rely on taxpayer money to fund the campaign because they don’t get the same excitement over the message.”
In response, Bozzi cited the 1,570 contributions averaging $140 that, he said, Fogarty raised during the last quarter as evidence “we have plenty of excitement. We are getting a lot of contributions in smaller donations from real Rhode Islanders, regular people who are struggling with rising health-care costs and education costs and who want to see a change.”
Republican primary candidate Dennis Michaud did not respond to inquiries made to his campaign press secretary.
In the Senate race:
With receipts of about $1 million during the quarter that ended June 30, Whitehouse has erased the cash advantage of an incumbent who had banked more than $600,000 before anybody else entered the race. Whitehouse reported total cash on hand of about $1.8 million on July 1.
Chafee reported raising about $720,000 — a personal best for a financial quarter — with $1.4 million in the bank. He had the help of First Lady Laura Bush, who headlined a late-June fundraiser that netted more than $250,000.
Laffey’s campaign said he has between $900,000 and $1 million in the bank, after taking in about $360,000 — his fourth consecutive quarter in the $300,000 to $400,000 range. So while Whitehouse and Chafee surged, Laffey essentially held steady, suggesting the possibility that he has hit his ceiling as a fundraiser…
Another telling figure for the Republicans is the breakdown of money they have available, under federal election law, to spend in the Sept. 12 primary and in the general election.
Chafee reported that he has $1.1 million for the primary and $300,000 for the general. Laffey reported that he has between $670,000 and $770,000 for the primary and about $230,000 for the general.
The figures raise the prospect that either man, as winner of the GOP primary, would start the general election against Whitehouse — should he defeat underdog Sheeler — with a big financial problem.