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Some thoughts - or rather questions - on the primary races, and more. . .

by: teacherken

Sun Apr 12, 2009 at 09:19:55 AM EDT

( - promoted by KathyinBlacksburg)

I have recently been asked a number of times who I thought would win the contested primaries, what I thought turnout would be, what I think will happen come the Fall.   While obviously the last of those questions is premature, not yet knowing the outcome of the two contested primaries on the Democratic side and the contest for the AG spot on the Republican side, it is also somewhat early to be predicting what will happen in June.

But we have a number of things we will be able to observe in the shorter term to give us some kind of indication of what MIGHT be happening.  Below the fold I will explore a few of those things.

teacherken :: Some thoughts - or rather questions - on the primary races, and more. . .
We already have some broad outlines on the money front, ranging from the $1 million given to McDonnell by the Republican governors (an indication of how much money will be coming in from out of state between now and November) to the various amounts of money reported by Democratic contenders.   There are several things for which we can look in the official financial reports due out the middle of this month.  First, one Democratic candidate has  not, as far as I know issued any statement about 1st quarter fund-raising, and that is Jody Wagner.   We know about Bowerbank's cash on hand and Signer's cash on hand, money raised in two months), and number of donors.  We have total amounts and cash on hand for all three contenders for Governor and for Steve Shannon.

But even with some of those who have released figures there are some things for which to look.   Consider these:

How much of Bowerbank's cash on hand is a result of his own contributions?   How much money from others has he actually been able to raise?  What if his fundraising from others is significantly below that of Signer, does that mean that the candidate longest in the race is not demonstrating sufficient meaningful support to be considered a serious contender?  Or should we be more impressed that he was able to gain more than 18,000 signatures for his ballot qualification, more than any other statewide candidate?  Or might it be that his support does not extend much beyond the number of signatures he obtained?  We will need to look at number of contributors, and from where those donations came - is his support largely limited to Russell and surrounding counties, in which case he really lacks the base to compete statewide?

How much has Wagner raised?  She has by far the most supporters.  Near the end of the month she sent out a request to supporters to help get her above 500 online donors.  I have seen no announcement of her 1st quarter fundraising figures.  She had reported about 400,000 for the last 6 months of 2008, with 285,000 on hand as of the end of December.  One would assume she was able to continue to raise significant amounts of money.   If I have missed an announcement, I am sure someone will add the information in a comment.

Signer reported about 250,000 raised for his two months in the race, and 175,000 COH.  He reached 600 online donors with a strong push in the last two days.  Will he be substantially behind the other two in COH?  Might that limit his ability to compete?  If Bowerbank is not considered a credible alternative to Wagner, might labor come in big for Signer because of Wagner's strong affirmation of right to work?  How much of a difference might labor support make?  Or is Wagner's lead so formidable that labor, despite disliking that position, will sit out the LG race and concentrate on the Governor's race?

In the Governor's race, there is no doubt that McAuliffe has resources that dwarf what the other two each have. Will he continue to outraise them at a similar rate?  Now that he is not restricted by the General Assembly being in session, will we see the fundraising of Deeds pick up significantly (he has a big event in Arlington on the 21st of April)?

What is the source of the 850,000 raised by Moran this past quarter?  Was there a large transfer from his brother Jim's campaign funds (of interest to a number of politicians, because it could indicate the Congressman might not run again)?  How about a matching of names between those contributing to Brian and those contributing to Jim, who after all sits on the influential Appropriations Committee.  Might Brian benefit from those seeking the favor of his brother (which I caution to note is not illegal or improper - many contributions are made with the intent of gaining access or influence) which would open up an additional pool of money to help Moran close the funding gap?

For all of the candidates, on what are they doing their spending?  Are large chunks going to high-priced consultants?  Are they indicating the ability to bring in sufficient funds to support increasing their political activities?  Do those with the most support from office-holders and party officials -  Moran and Wagner - have less need of paid staff to do the outreach of identifying and turning out voters?

What if anything can we find out about the number of committed volunteers -  those of us who worked on Webb's primary campaign know that it was the volunteers that got him to the general, and who also made a major impact in the general.  The Moran campaign has its online organizing tool, Organize Virginia, which as of April 6 claimed 500 signed up for the candidate.  How many of those are really active?  How many more volunteers do not appear in that number?  How does that compare with the other candidates -  on this the 1st quarter Investors Report from McAuliffe (which can be downloaded from the campaign web site - look for the link under (Campaign Report)reports on page 6

with 10 different field offices throughout the commonwealth. . . and thousands of volunteers, we're building the largest grassroots campaign infrastructure Virginia's ever seen in a statewide race.  Over three hundred volunteers are devoting their time each week to help Terry become our next Governor.
That over 300 each week I am told adds to more than 2000 so far.  I have not yet seen figures for the Deeds campaign, or for any of the LG campaigns.

Perhaps some of this may give some indication beyond the polling figures about the status of the contested races, perhaps not.

Looking to November, what is McDonnell's cash on hand?  What is Bolling's?  How much impact will Shannon's over 900,000 on hand have when the Republicans have still not selected their AG nominee?   Given that the Republican convention is in May, how much news oxygen will the results of that suck up?  What if Frederick gets reelected?  What if he doesn't?

And what about debates?  Will there be any more for the LG race?  Signer, believing he won the event in C'ville, wants more, hopefully either televised or recorded and posted to YouTube.  As the perceived frontrunner does Wagner want to take that risk?

What might be the impact of the debates and candidate forums scheduled in the Governor's race?  On the one hand, McAuliffe has far more experience getting out talking points on television.  On the other, might he have an experience like Jim Webb did when hit with the Craney Island question by Allen, possibly thereby enabling one or the other of his opponents to make the case that Terry lacks the requisite in-depth knowledge to serve as governor?

Perhaps you might choose to posit an answer to one or more these questions.   Perhaps you would like to pose a few more of your own.  

The point of this posting is not to define anything, but to show how many questions that might still need to be answered to have an understanding of how things will play out.

I know how I am going to vote in the general - for all 3 of the Dems.  Steve Shannon is unopposed, and I have been supporting him for a while.  I have indicated my support for Mike Signer in the primary.

But I have no clue for whom I will vote in the primary for Governor.  The questions I have listed come less from trying to decide how to cast my vote than in attempting to analyze the race.  I have not in these even gotten to differences on issues and how I think that will play out.  Those differences will certainly play a large part in my own decision, but so will the debates, so will what I ascertain from the financials, so will the actions and statements of candidates and campaigns.

I may have to decide sooner than I might like, or risk not being able to vote in the primary - I am serving as a Reader of the AP US Government examination, and leave for Daytona Beach on June 1, with a scheduled arrival back at National around 3 PM on primary day.  That should be sufficient time to be able to vote, but what if there is a problem with my flight?  As of yet, I have not decided if I will vote early, but I have to prepare as if I will.  In any event, I will unfortunately be unable to pay close attention in the crucial final week, except in the wee hours.  

Meanwhile, like many, I still have questions.  And I will be watching and listening.  

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I do have a question
regarding money and the fundraising rules in VA. Are they the same as they were for the presidential race? That is, x# of $ (per person) for the primaries and the same # for the general? Because, if so, then McDonnell -- who has no primaries -- could only get x, but each of ours could get 2x.

Not that I'm likely to max out even once but, I expect, there might be people who would.

There are no limits in Virginia...
Individuals may donated as much as they are able, from $10 to $10 billion to $10 trillion, up to an unlimited amount. Political Action Committees are also able to make unlimited contributions to candidates. The unlimited donations apply to both the primary and general elections.

The presidential race, as you noted, are federal elections limiting invididual donors to a maximum of $2300 per primary, and $2300 per general.

With state races, the sky's the limit.

[ Parent ]
But the National Limits are a Farce and Disgrace
Like too many financial sector regulations, they are easily worked around.

[ Parent ]
Just like state balanced budget requirements. n/t

[ Parent ]
Don't Risk It: Vote Absentee
Unfortunately, the law sometimes makes you tell a small lie to do so. You could always change your flight to a later arrival to avoid that small lie. But I too will be traveling that day and in the air while the polls are open, so I plan to vote early and enjoy knowing for that brief time, all three of my choices will be ahead (at least in my Republican precinct).  

Not an option
for me... I work as "elections officer" at the polls

[ Parent ]
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