It’s an unavoidable fact in politics at just about any level.
You can have the right message, qualifications or just about any other factor that makes for a winning candidate. But if you don’t have any money to let people know about it, you are in for a very long (or short) campaign.
To slightly modify Duke Ellington: It don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got the green.
Monday was the first major money deadline for all five of the Dem hopefuls looking to unseat Republican incumbent Susana Martinez. It’s the first chance to see who truly has the fundraising legs to keep battling. The newest reports due today show how much candidates have raised in the last six months, from Oct. 2013 thru now.
The numbers are in some ways telling and in others deceptive. Here’s a candidate by candidate breakdown:
Alan Webber (report here)
Amount raised since Oct. 2013: $811,613.44
Amount left going forward: $439,914.67
Campaign debt: $150,000
Analysis: Santa Fe businessman and Fast Company co-founder Alan Webber’s fiscal performance is not surprising, but it does undeniably put him in the best position of any of the five Democrats in the race.
It’s also not surprising that the majority of the money in Webber’s campaign coffers is Webber’s money. From looking at the report, Webber contributed a little more than $300K of his fundraising to his own campaign. He also loaned the campaign another $150K. That means more than half of what’s been raised has come from Webber himself.
Given Webber’s second place finish at the Dem’s pre-primary convention, this cash flush candidate remains well positioned to be the party’s nominee.
Lawrence Rael (report here)
Amount raised since Oct. 2013: $322,963.60
Amount left going forward: $228,767.50
Campaign debt: $176,950.60
Analysis: Rael’s fundraising efforts and campaign war chest have put him in a solid second place at this point.
The former Albuquerque CAO hasn’t been shy about lending himself money just like Webber. More than half of his campaign’s haul has come from a string of loans. The most recent one is a big show of faith, $150,000 lent on April 7th.
As we noted before, Rael finished third at the Dem’s convention a little more than a month ago. He was also one of the candidates that seemed to have significant audience enthusiasm (volume-wise anyway) during that event.
That enthusiasm, combined with his position in the money race put Rael as a dark horse. He’s still looking up at Webber and Morales, but he’s far from out of the race.
Gary King (report here)
Amount raised since Oct. 2013: $229,479.00
Amount left going forward: $89,177.60
Campaign debt: $143,006.14
Analysis: The numbers on their face look like a solid third place performance for the state’s current attorney general. Combine that only with a top performance in a recently released PPP poll and perhaps the strongest name recognition in the field and Gary King looks to still be on solid footing.
But as you might be able to tell from the lower cash balance left in King’s war chest and the campaign debt, there is some significant weakness in the fundraising data. As the longest running candidate in the race, King has already raised $655,702.34. He’s also spent all but the nearly $90K.
On top of that, King’s campaign has more debt than it has campaign cash. Also, $100K this last six months alone was from King loaning his campaign the money.
King is the best-known name in the race and the PPP poll reflected that. However, money problems and the lack of support with party insiders are some mighty strong headwinds.
The tide has not completely turned.
Howie Morales (report here)
Amount raised since Oct. 2013: $126,291.70
Amount left going forward: $46,624.61
Campaign debt: $25,000
Analysis: This was the report a lot of people had their eye on.
Despite the Silver City senator’s first place convention finish, campaign organization and fundraising ability are two factors that could keep Morales from holding the early lead that convention gave him. Before that top finish, Morales was nearly kicked out of contention for having too few petition signatures. In fact, his campaign had the fewest overall of the five Dem hopefuls.
Morales is going to have to work hard to show that an apparent fourth place fundraising finish isn’t his Achilles heel and that he can match up with the Governor on that front. He also doesn’t have a lot of cash on hand at this point.
There are two major caveats. One, Morales was barred from soliciting contributions in the days surrounding the session… a problem only Lopez was also saddled with on the Dem side. Two, there are signs his momentum significantly picked up after that convention win. I’ll get into why in a section below.
Linda Lopez (report here)
Amount raised since Oct. 2013: $28,570.00
Amount left going forward: $19,289.07
Campaign debt: $0
Analysis: If there’s a clear fundraising loser in the reports released Monday, it’s the only female Democrat Sen. Linda Lopez.
She has dug herself a very deep hole and it appears to be getting deeper.
A disappointing convention performance combined with a lack of the kind of name recognition that could make up for it were bad enough. Now Lopez has finished dead dead dead last in fundraising. It’s as close to the kiss of death as there can be at this stage and Lopez winning the nomination would be nothing short of a miracle.
Here’s a bit of bright news.. Unlike the other four contenders, Lopez hasn’t loaned her campaign a single penny. Yes, her Senate campaign chipped in some of the cash, but if this ship goes down it doesn’t appear it will go down with any debt.
All of these numbers are one thing, but is fundraising a flood or a trickle for each candidate right now?
One of the ways to tell is by looking at their fundraising numbers after the Democratic Pre-Primary Convention March 8th. Below are those numbers (not including loans or the candidates’ own spending on themselves) along with the candidate’s finish at that convention.
Alan Webber: $125,714.44 (2nd)
Howie Morales: $66,436 (1st)
Lawrence Rael: $62,916 (3rd)
Gary King: $62,425 (5th)
Linda Lopez: $4,585 (4th)
Analysis: No matter how you slice it, Alan Webber is the fundraising leader in both sheer dollars and momentum. Again, that number did not include his own $150,000 contribution during that time period. Although his campaign has been getting some high dollar donors, his total number of donations are significant too. Quite a bit of it all is from out-of-state. Finishing second in the pre-primary legitimized Webber and he’s been reaping the fiscal rewards.
Morales is a distant but strong second place here. He had the highest number of individual donors, nearly 500 in all during this time period but the big checks haven’t been as forthcoming. It’s a good recent showing that could allay some Dem concerns. Rael’s story is a similar one, although overall Rael has more cash to play with in his campaign’s coffers right now.
Gary King has been buoyed by just 60 donors during the time frame in question, but has been getting very big checks when he’s gotten donations. It’s deep-pocketed but narrow support that’s kept him in the fundraising conversation over the last month or so.
Linda Lopez’s number speaks for itself.
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
All of these numbers need to be taken with a huge grain of salt, in context and/or with a MAJOR caveat. Governor Susana Martinez is simply blowing every single Democrat out of the water on the fundraising front at this point, even Alan Webber.
Here’s the breakdown that paints a bleak November picture for Democrats on the money front:
Susana Martinez (report here)
Amount raised since Oct. 2013: $1,396,169.51
Amount left going forward: $4,212,263.47
Campaign debt: $0
Analysis: Nobody is touching the Governor right now in the fundraising arena.
Add up all five Democrats and you get $1,565,541.75. That’s more than the Governor received, however nearly half (at least $750,000) of the Dem total is from those candidates pouring money into their own campaigns through either contributions or loans.
During that same time period it does not appear Martinez gave her reelection bid a single cent. There doesn’t appear to be a need right now.
That means from outside contributions alone, the Governor is beating all comers.
Simply put, the money is spread awfully thin on the Democrat side of the coin and could remain so unless the five candidate field starts shrinking.
Even since the Democratic Pre-Primary Convention, Martinez has raised $577,891.50. That’s more than the five Dem contenders combined.
She also had a prohibition on soliciting contributions for a longer time frame than either Morales or Lopez.
Martinez’s fundraising edge and campaign war-chest remains a daunting barrier for those who have their sights on unseating her in November. But it’s a very nice security blanket for a reelection bid at this stage.