We guess campaign season is officially underway now, since the ABH has published the first “money story” of 2006. We’ll sum up. Chasteen and Maddox, decent fundraising; Andy Rusk, not so much; Heidi Davison and Keith Johnson, none at all.
And that’s a great example of why the “money story” is more or less useless at this stage of the game. If Heidi Davison runs, do you think she’s going to have any trouble at all raising the money she needs to be competitive? Are Tom Chasteen and Andy Rusk going to run remotely similar campaigns? Then why would you expect Andy to be competitive with Tom in fundraising?
It’s not so much how much you raise, although that’s important. Andy Rusk, for example, has a fantastic message (albeit one in need of some tightening up), but we’re worried that he won’t have the money to get that message out. Tom Chasteen will have plenty of money, but if his behavior as the Commissioner from D9 is any indication, his message will be safe enough not to piss anyone off. (It’ll also be safe enough not to inspire anyone who wants to move past the status quo.)
It’s not how much you raise, it’s how you spend it. Take a look at Charlie Maddox. According to the ABH, “[Maddox] spent $3,764.47, about two-thirds of it on a campaign Web site.” We were told there would be no math, but by our rough calculations, that comes to about $2,400.00. Ain’t no website in the world worth that much dough, unless you’re running a national or very large state campaign with a fulltime web person to do frequent updates and lots of multimedia and interactive content. We’ve seen Mr. Maddox’s website, and we think he got hosed big time. In a town where you can’t spit without hitting a web designer, he could have done that cheaper. Put in real terms, $2,400.00 buys a decent amount of radio on the local AM stations, which would reach a lot more people, if used at the right time. (By “right time,” we mean October or November. Please, candidates, do not buy advertising now.)
We use that as an example only, of course. We don’t know Mr. Maddox, and he probably doesn’t know about us. But, to tie things back into democracy, you might want to take a look at your favorite (or least-favorite) candidate’s fundraising reports and see what they’re spending money on. It might give you a clue about how they’re going to act with your tax dollars if they win.
More on the money chase and how we’ll contradict everything we just said when we talk about the Jane Kidd/Bill Cowsert race at some nebulous later date.