Filson's Shallow CD-11 roots
Everyone understands that the race to unseat Pombo will require a lot of money. However, talking with people has left me with the impression that some take this undeniable fact to somehow imply that fundraising is THE best way to measure the viability of a candidate. Whatever the merits of this principle in general, I think it is inapplicable to the situation we face in this Democratic Primary.
Specifically, though I am concerned about McNerney’s ability to raise money full stop, McNerney has been able to beat Filson when it comes to both raising money in the district and raising money from small donors (i.e. raising money is sums less than $200 per person per election). This is true is absolute terms, even though Filson has out-fundraised McNerney by a significant amount, which suggests to me that Filson’s support in the district is even shallower than I thought.
I previously explored the issue about small-dollar donations, so I’m going to focus on the issues surrounding large contributions raised in the district. For the purpose of this analysis, I am going to exclude the money Filson received from PACs because none of the PACs to my knowledge come from CD-11.
Filson has raised $67,080 in itemized, individual contributions. From this I subtracted all the money ($3580) he raised from his immediate family, which includes $2,100 from his wife. We know that Filson has more personal wealthy than McNerney, and the fact that his son and daughters can donate around $500 dollars each really does not really add to our understanding of his viability as a candidate. This leaves us with $63, 500 dollars in itemized contributions from individuals.
Out of this amount, an additional $8,850 came from out of state, largely from pilots. This means that Filson has raised $54, 650 from California.
What I found was that the money raised from California came from the following areas in the following amounts: CD-11 ($16,300), CD-10 ($17, 950), and other Other ($20,400).
You should note right off the bat that Filson has raised more money in Ellen Tauscher’s district than in his own. It is all well and good that he’s getting money from other areas, after all Richard Pombo will certainly get money from outside the district. Still, I thought it was strange that someone who raised over $104,000 managed to only raised around 15% of his money in his home district. But it’s worse than that.
Out of the $16,300 Filson raised in CD-11, fully two-thirds ($12,400) came from his own block (700-710 Endsliegh Ct. in Danville). That means that only $3,900 came from the rest of his district. Furthermore, $3,500 of that came from pilots, meaning that Steve Filson only raised $400 in individual contributions from people in the district who were not his neighbors or his co-workers.
More to the point, there is not a single itemized contribution from Stockton, Tracy, Lodi or anywhere else in San Joaquin County, where half the district lives! Remember, he only raised approximately $6,000 in un-itemized contributions, so it is not likely that he has many small donors in those areas.
Whatever his problems, McNerney has raised, by my count, $17,535 in itemized contributions in CD-11. Furthermore, his money has come from across the district. This means that despite raising only $60,000 to Filson’s $104,000 [SEE NOTE BELOW] McNerney has out-fundraised Filson in CD-11. Furthermore, unless Filson can get the Democrats in Stockton, Tracy, and Lodi to support him in the primary, he doesn’t have a huge shot at winning.
Everyone knowledgeable about the race has told me that they’re worried that the voters in San Joaquin County will view both of the Democratic challengers as outsiders. But what’s clear is that McNerney has already formed a core of support (however small—I don’t want to overstate the implications from the FEC reports) in those areas. It is not clear at all that Steve Filson, lives in Danville where the neighbors can give him thousands of dollars each, will be able to connect with certain demographics in his district.
What’s most interesting about these numbers to me is that despite Filson’s professed affinity for the Central Valley, he hasn’t gotten much traction there. Certainly, we must remember that Margee Ensign may or may not run, and that her entry into the race will change the calculations that we’re now making. But despite the fact that Filson’s biography may give him an in with Central Valley voters, I just don’t see it working at least until after the primary. Maybe he was just taking on the low-hanging fruit as it were, and getting the easy money out of the way. But if I were going to make a statement about being warmly received in the district, I’d make less effort raising money from Ellen Tauscher’s district, and more effort at raising money from the one I wanted to win.
Lastly, we should note that none of the Democratic clubs in the area have made endorsements yet (at least as far as I know). These endorsements could generate quite a bit of money and volunteer time for the endorsed candidate, so the relative merits of the two candidates are still very much up in the air. In other words, it’s still early to be making firm conclusions about things now. I just brought this up to note what’s happening now, and to give some perspective as the race goes forward.
[NOTE: For some reason the FEC and Political Money Line both list McNerney’s fundraising at around $53,000 even though he very clearly has it at around $60,000 on his FEC report. I found some errors in both the FEC and Political Money Line’s calculation, including the complete absence the first donor on McNerney’s most recent FEC report, so I went with McNerney’s numbers. I also tallied all the itemized contributions I could find for McNerney and came up a couple hundred dollars short of what he reported, but I did not carefully go through his old reports to see what I was missing].