Salisbury money races have surprising leaders

If you were wondering whether the challengers could financially keep up with the incumbents in the Salisbury primary elections, wonder no more. The initial pre-primary financial reports are out and there are some intriguing results.

First of all, it’s no surprise that the small District 1 race has attracted very little in the way of contributions; in fact, challenger Cynthia Polk begged off the detailed report as she didn’t raise enough. Fellow challenger April Jackson has only raised $595 from just four contributors, with the most interesting one being $200 from Friends of (Delegate) Rudy Cane. Incumbent Shanie Shields has raised $860 from 19 different benefactors, with the largest being a city-mandated maximum contribution of $250 from former Salisbury mayor Barrie Tilghman.

As would turn out to be the case for most contenders, the largest expenditure for the District 1 aspirants was signage, although Shields spent over $150 on a fundraiser which apparently only about broke even, based on contribution amounts.

More surprising was the amount of money raised on the District 2 race and who’s raised it. Jacob Day is the clear fundraising leader, with 50 line-item contributions (some were by couples) totaling $6,295. Out of all eight candidates, Day just missed being the overall head of the class – with a caveat, as I’ll explain later. Former mayor Barrie Tilghman maxed out her contribution to Day with $250, but so did a number of others I recognized as local builders, realtors, and developers – Brad Gillis, Michael Weisner, Ronald Morgan (of Becker Morgan Architects), members of the Gilkerson family, and so forth. Also worth noting on Day is that 30% of his individual contributions came from outside the area. The only other candidate with a similar profile is Jackson, who received two of her four donations from a Florida family – perhaps related?

Meanwhile, Jack Heath finished a distant second in contributions with $2,400 from 26 benefactors. A number of prominent local Republicans were in that group, including former County Executive candidates Ron Alessi and Joe Ollinger, who both chipped in $100 apiece. However, Heath also has over $2,800 in loans outstanding – all to wife Linda.

In a bit of a surprise, incumbent Debbie Campbell lags behind in the money race having raised only $1,026 from ten contributors, including $250 from herself.

As was the case in District 1 signage was among the leading expenditures for all three District 2 contenders, although Heath has also invested in a mailing. (It may not have reflected on this report, but my fiance and I both received a mailing from Day yesterday so his fundraising prowess is being spent.)

The mayor’s race, though, proves to be an interesting case in campaign finance.

Incumbent Jim Ireton takes the prize for neatest and easiest-to-decipher report, for the most part. There are 79 contributors listed, who donated a total of $5,818.65. (Five donated a hokey amount of $20.13, which explains the odd total.) His contributors run the gamut from local progressives to a number of local politicians like former County Councilman David MacLeod, Register of Wills Karen Lemon, and perennial Orphans’ Court candidate Peter Evans. There are also Democrats from around the state who added to the pot, such as Delegates Luke Clippinger, Maggie McIntosh, and Anne Kaiser, along with unsuccessful District 1 write-in Congressional candidate John LaFerla. Even Salisbury University president Janet Dudley-Eshbach and local left-wing activists Mike Pretl and Harry Basehart added a few dollars to Ireton’s till.

On the other hand, challenger Joe Albero raised the most money with $6,550. But as I said earlier, there’s a caveat – Albero donated $5,000 to his own cause. The other $1,550 came from just a dozen contributors, several of which were businesses. Included among that subset were Electrical Solutions, Gary Pusey & Sons, MoJo Management, Market Street Inn, Ltd., and Crown Sports Center. It’s not illegal, but Albero has by far the highest proportion of these business-based contributions. A perusal of Albero’s Salisbury News website shows several of these businesses are also advertisers.

It’s also worth mentioning that while Albero’s “official” shell of a mayoral website that’s currently ‘under construction’ has an authority line, Salisbury News – a site where Joe freely takes swipes at his opponent under the guise of “news” – does not. The same is true, however, of the rarely-updated On Your Side blog where Campbell is listed as a contributor along with Council president Terry Cohen, although Debbie apparently hasn’t authored a post since at least 2011. Neither Campbell nor Cohen post an authority line there, although tucked at the bottom is a disclaimer that they speak for themselves and not the whole Council.

Once again, signage seemed to be the largest expenditure in the mayoral race. But it’s interesting to note that the services of DiCarlo Printing were sought by both mayoral candidates as well as Jacob Day. John Robinson’s printing business was also a supplier to Albero and Day. The other candidates mainly utilized other local printers for their signage, although Campbell chose an out-of-state printer for hers. And while I don’t want this to be perceived as “pick on Albero” day, shouldn’t he have included the cost of his “Albero for Mayor” shirts as an expenditure? While he hadn’t officially filed yet at the time the shirts were designed and purchased, it would probably be prudent for the record to know where that money came from and who the supplier was.

But to me, the biggest surprise was how poorly the District 2 incumbent is doing in the fundraising department. While it’s quite likely she can survive the first round based on her name recognition, it’s very difficult to make up ground in the remaining weeks before the general election. In the last several cycles, those who finished “in the money” in the primary went on to win almost every time. The one recent exception I could find was where Gary Comegys overtook Tim Spies to grab the third and final spot in 2007 – Spies was third in the primary. But the dynamics of a “top three” race are different than this winner-take-all set of battles.

On Tuesday we will find out if all that money raised by the challengers is enough to secure a position in the General Election April 2.

4 thoughts on “Salisbury money races have surprising leaders”

  1. You’re WAY off base here Michael.

    First the good – I would agree with you 100% about the shirts. If this were a federal or state race there is no question that they would need be included AND require an authority line.

    Where you leave not only the reservation, but the known universe, is over SBYNews. In no way, shape, or form is an authority line required UNLESS he did something like place an ad, or use a post to raise money.

    I had this conversation with the DT’s Jeremy Cox on the day Albero announced. He came to the same incorrect conclusion that you have.

    By your logic, you need to include an authority line for a candidate if it’s during an election cycle and you say anything positive about them (or perhaps even something negative?). If you endorse a candidate before an election are you arguing that you need to included an authority line? It appears so.

    I know that you don’t like Albero and you disagree with him more than I do. That’s fair; I respect your opinion even when I disagree with it. However, this is a HUGE reach. Love him, hate him, Albero and SBYNews are part of the media just as you are.

    Where is your criticism of Andy Harris’ blog? Where is your criticism of Mike McDermott’s too infrequent op-ed’s in the Daily Times? Neither bears an authority line … nor should they.

    FYI – most of the posts regarding the 2013 Salisbury election and candidates have been written by others, including myself.

  2. I understand this is a city election and not a state election, but I think it would be a good practice to have an authority line on the website, as I had when my campaigns for Central Committee were active. I followed the advice I was given by the Board of Elections. And if you’ll recall I also said the same about Debbie Campbell, and I found out since that Cynthia Polk has a Tumbler site where she doesn’t have a authority line either, nor does April Jackson. I think they should.

    I also pointed out that Joe has the authority line on his campaign site.

    To be honest, I wasn’t aware Andy had a blog. As for Mike McDermott, having an op-ed in the Daily Times is a different animal and I wouldn’t call out any candidate who is featured in that outlet unless he or she is paying for advertising.

    Now, as far as who writes on Joe’s site, you may well be correct but we have no proof that someone else is putting up the post because there’s no byline.

    Whether I like Joe or not isn’t the question. Am I being unreasonably harsh? Perhaps. I think it would be better for the voting public to know that Joe uses Salisbury News as a campaign site of sorts and that items which aren’t his should be clearly stated as such. Transparency isn’t such a bad thing.

  3. Ah, but you hit the nail on the head in the first graph of your reply:

    “…but I think it would be a good practice to have an authority line on the website…”

    You might think it’s a good practice. I may or may not disagree. It’s irrelevant. He has to have an authority line on a campaign website because the campaign is paying for it and / or he’s asking people to vote for him, or asking them to contribute money.

    SBYNews is not a campaign site. It existed long before Albero declared as a candidate and will exist long after this election – whether Joe wins or loses.

    Transparency is a good thing. I have several disagreements with Joe’s approach to things on SBYNews. It doesn’t matter. It’s HIS property. Not mine. Not yours.

    Again, an op-ed in the DT is no different than an op-ed on Monoblogue or SBYNews. As long as a candidate or office holder doesn’t ask for money or a vote, no authority line is required.

  4. G.A.,
    I am a long time follower of Sbynews. While I rarely if ever have a comment posted by the censors of the website I have in fact seen in multiple posts in the comment section before Albero announced his candidacy and since: “The KEY to this election, (and I cannot express this enough) we need you to get out and VOTE. We need to set a record in this upcoming election with a turn out like Salisbury has never seen before. I have stated this so many times, “This is not Joe Albero’s election to lose, it’s the citizens’ election to lose”.
    It could be argued that he is asking for vote’s. Such as what is in quotes directly from his site.

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