Yesterday I pronounced Randy Brock’s gubernatorial effort DOA. after his campaign finance report showed that he’d loaned $300,000 of his own money to his campaign — accounting for nearly 60% of his unimpressive fundraising total. (And given my near-Merlinian omniscience, cough, I don’t know why Randy hasn’t just given up already.) Then, this morning I read a sentence by VTDigger’s political analyst Jon Margolis that, in my fevered imagination, seemed to be pointed directly at me: “No, the campaign for governor is not over.”
This came after his determined effort to make lemonade out of Randy Brock’s big bag of lemons:
Lending money to your own campaign is neither improper nor unusual. Shumlin did it in 2010, though his loans were never as large a percentage of his total campaign treasury as Brock’s. And considering that Brock didn’t really start running until a few months ago, raising $527,000 isn’t a paltry showing.
… No, the campaign for governor is not over. A candidate doesn’t need more money than his opponent. He just needs enough to run his own campaign and get his message out to the voters.
I respect Jon Margolis. He’s certainly accomplished far more in his journalistic life than I have. But on this one, he’s wrong. He’s bending over backwards to give Brock every benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he wants to appear “balanced” by artificially evening out the pluses and minuses of the Brock effort.
Or, as I’d put it, “the doomed Brock effort.” Sorry, he has no chance. And the race for Governor may well spin completely out of his control, giving Peter Shumlin a victory of historic proportions. I’m more convinced of that today than I was last night, after an initial perusal of the campaign finance reports.
After the jump: dispatches from Death’s waiting room.
A few points:
Out of Brock’s $300,000 in loans to his own campaign, $210,000 came on Thursday, July 12 — a sign that Brock was desperate to put up a halfway-decent number in his finance report. For that matter, he may have even been desperate to cover all the checks he has to keep writing to his big-bucks campaign consultants.
And Brock has spent far more on his campaign than any other candidate in any race. He rightfully points out that he has to spend heavily to make up for Shumlin’s advantages in name recognition and free publicity. However, that doesn’t address the fact that Brock’s outgo is faster than his intake. Vermont Pundit Laureate Eric Davis told the Freeploid that Brock will need to raise $100,000 a month from now until the election to be competitive in the fall. So far, he’s averaging less than $40,000 a month.
The Freeploid also points out that Brock’s paltry fundraising puts him in some bad company:
That’s less than two of the three unsuccessful Democratic challengers of Republican Gov. Jim Douglas had raised at the point in their campaigns. Only Gaye Symington in 2008 had a smaller contribution total – $205,309. Scudder Parker in 2006 had raised $299,677 and Peter Clavelle in 2004 had $260,204.
Eesh. Brock raised a total of $226,000 from other people. Symington’s total, in 2012 dollars, was $219,000.
Can we all agree that if you’re a gubernatorial candidate, you do NOT want to be comparable, in any way, to Gaye Symington?
Given his campaign’s unfortunate burn rate and Symingtonian fundraising performance, it’s clear that Randy Brock is not only in danger of losing the race — he’s in danger of falling into political irrelevance long before the first vote is cast. He’s going to have to do a lot better just to avoid the appearance of irrelevance.
One other thing: Brock’s $226,000 in contributions from people other than himself includes $82,000 from donors who are already maxed out — having given Brock the legal maximum of $2,000.
To be fair, many of Shumlin’s donors have maxed out as well. But the Governor is a proven fundraiser, netting almost a million and a half dollars for his 2010 candidacy. There’s little doubt that he will be able to maintain or increase the flow of dollars into his warchest. Brock will have to more than double his pace, while operating from an extremely weak position.
I could be wrong. It’s happened before and, God knows, it’ll happen again. But I stand by my statement: the Brock campaign is DOA.