Monday, October 17, 2005

Money, Money, Money

I've been looking at the McNerney and Filson FEC reports for the 3rd quarter and have some preliminary observations. It looks like they're still inputting info in the databaes, but the basics are there. (I found information about Filson here and here, and information about McNerney here).

The quick summary:

1) Filson is raking in huge amounts of money, but it's almost all from large contributions. He only raised about $6,000 in contributions less than $200 each, but he raised over $100k when everything is considered. Also, approximately 12% of his money is coming from out of state, and about 20% of his total receipts came from pilots (individually and a PAC). If you include the $5k he got from the United Pilots PAC, Filson received almost 20% of his money from PACs and other political committees (not sure exactly what the other committees are, but I will investigate).

2) McNerney has raised a decent amount of money, but his large contributions aren't very large. They average about $385 for the donors in California, and slightly more (~$535) for the three out of state itemized donors he has. (This compares to Filsons averages of approximately $766 from in state and $1,080 from out of state). On the other hand, McNerney has raised almost half of his money this fiscal quarter from small donors (meaning they gave less than $200 each). This means that McNerney has raised, in absolute terms, almost four times the amount of money from small donors as Filson has.

3) I'm a bit worried about McNerney's expenses, but don't know enough to make a firm judgment about whether they're appropriate or not. McNerney has paid $3,000 for a "campaign coordinator fee," $2,000 for "fundraising services," and $1,607 for in "fundraising commission." I need to look into this further, but these raise red flags that make me a little wary.

The analysis:

I think the FEC filings very strongly supports what I said about Filson having access to funding sources without his having much traction in the grassroots. Furthermore, it's probably the case that the D-trip recruited him precisely because of these funding sources. I mean, I don't think that Filson set a goal of raising $100k out of nowhere. The D-trip is reported to like people who can fund themselves, and baring that they probably set a goal of $100k so that he could show that he was "serious." I know EMILY's List asked Francine Busby to raise $100k as a precondition of their involvement in her campaign, and it would make sense that such an amount would be seen as a threshold level to be taken seriously.

I also suspect that Margee Ensign, if she is seriously considering entering the race, is taking a hard look at these numbers too. She is the UOP dean who in August
floated the idea of running. Since she has not filed the required FEC form, we can assume that she hasn't raised more than a minimal amount of money. This means she would need to pull a Filson and raise a lot of money in short order if she decides to run. If she's able to raise enough money to get EMILY's List involved she might be able to compete with Filson in terms of dollars and compete with McNerney when it comes to the grassroots.

I say this knowing very little about her beyond what's in the article I linked to. However, I have heard a buzz about her among some of the people I work with politically. The fact that she's a women means a HUGE amount to the women in my political circles. Furthermore, the fact that she's from the San Joaquin Valley makes her attractive to those who worry that Filson and McNerney (who both live on the outskirts of the district) will be viewed as outsiders by voters in the heart of the district. Still, the DCCC apparently tried to recruit her and ended up settling on Filson. I'm not sure how they'd react to her entry into the race, but seeing as how Filson has
all but claimed the DCCC's endorsement it's not clear that Ensign would be able to take on that mantel as well.

I have no way of gauging whether she'll jump in the race or not, but my feeling is that if she does run, she'll likely prove to be a serious challenger in the primary.


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