Today I’m going to look at the financial status of a race with one incumbent taking on a underfunded challenger.
It seems like Delegate Addie Eckardt won the more difficult election by ousting incumbent Senator Richard Colburn in the June 24 primary. Her victory left her accounts depleted but at this point she’s still in a far better financial position than her challenger Christopher Robinson, who ran for the same seat in 2010 and lost by a 59-41 margin to Colburn.
Here are the numbers.
The first thing which may grab you is the huge amount of money Eckardt has already spent – since 2013, she’s spent over $73,000 just to get through the bitterly-contested primary, practically wiping out her previous cushion coming into the campaign. In February, before she opted to switch races and challenge Colburn, I pointed out Addie had over $44,000 on hand. (At that point, neither Robinson nor Eckardt were in the running for a Senate seat. Christopher Robinson was a filing-deadline substitution for Cheryl Everman, who officially dropped out of the race February 21 but had ceased campaigning weeks before that.) So while she’s raised a fairly significant amount, Addie has gone through about twice as much.
Robinson has an anomaly of sorts regarding his financial records. Instead of being a constant process through the present day, his initial 2014 report had to go back through the wrapup of his 2010 campaign so much of his campaign funding was actually donated back in 2011. There’s also the “other” $8,000-plus, for which Robinson explains:
This is to offset the expense made to clear the outstanding obligations that were paid via in-kind contributions to the campaign reported in this report.
As I read it, this was to clear up his 2010 debt, and although Robinson kept his campaign finance entity active through 2014, he filed affidavits of limited contributions and expenses until the first pre-primary report this year, signifying he neither raised nor spent a total of $1,000 for his campaign.
Unlike the District 38 Senate race, though, there is little PAC money involved and most of the funding comes from within the district. Robinson’s high out-of-district take is skewed by a pair of large contributions out of the less than $8,000 he’s raised overall. As far as spending goes, most of Robinson’s money is going to media as one would expect in such a rural, spread-out district.
Robinson’s is a far less ambitious media buy than Eckardt’s though. Because she had a contested primary to win, she spent heavily in media: a total of $5,903.70 to several local newspapers and $10,967.78 to various local radio stations. Interestingly enough, most of the remaining media money went to Igoe Associates, a company which rubbed some Republicans the wrong way in 2012 when it assisted independent Senate candidate Rob Sobhani.
Eckardt has some other curious ledger items as well. For example, the transfer from other slates comes from the remaining money from the demise of the Shore Team Slate. which also explains a returned contribution of $266.67 to cover an unpaid bill due from that entity. The transfer out went to the House 2014 Victory Slate, which presumably is set up to assist would-be House members with their campaigns.
One other line item which is sure to cause heartburn in some quarters is the $6,600 she spent with Public Opinion Strategies for a poll. It’s a significant part of the “other” category.
On the other hand, Eckardt seems to do well with fundraising without spending a lot of money on it. Just $1,753.91 in fundraising expenses have netted her over $30,000 in individual contributions, and much of that was spent on her annual fundraiser.
It will be interesting to see how this race develops in a financial sense. Given Addie Eckardt’s name recognition in the district, most of which she’s represented for the last 20 years, she shouldn’t need as much financial support as a new candidate would but the fact she only has a few thousand more dollars to spend than her Democratic opponent is a little surprising.