Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Musings on Campaign Finances - To Loan, or Not to Loan?

A question that has been fermenting in the recesses of my brain for some time is the issue of whether candidates do themselves more harm than good by loaning money to their own campaign.

It's not necessarily the same issue, mind you, as contributing to your own campaign irrevocably - I'm talking strictly about making a loan with the intent that, if a campaign is successful, the candidate wins, and he/she continues to be able to raise money, he/she plans to pay himself or herself back as soon as possible after the election so the candidate himself/herself is not out of pocket.

Now, generally, so-called "self-funders" (that is, candidates who seem to be recruited primarily because they are well-off, and can contribute gobs of money to their own campaign) often don't fare well, it seems -- think Ozinga, Oberweis, etc. It generally seems OK, however, if candidates invest in their own campaign as long as the perception is not that the candidate themselves is the major funder. I think 10th District congressional candidate Dick Green, rightly or wrongly, has been given that label by many, for example. So the unwritten rule appears to be, go ahead and contribute to yourself, but don't overdo it.

Loans, I think, are a different dynamic than actual contributions.

If you really get behind the numbers, and it becomes obvious that the major funding of a campaign is loan money from the candidate, not only do you get the stigma of being the major source of support for the campaign, but people start to question your real commitment to yourself... especially if it becomes clear you aren't spending the money you loaned your own campaign.

My law school chum Pat Hughes, who is running against Congressman Mark Kirk for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate, may be a good example. At the start of his campaign, Pat loaned himself $250,000 worth of seed money. We won't know for a few weeks yet how successful he's been at raising money since the end of the third quarter of 2009, but nothing I've heard on the street indicates he's been particularly successful at raising major money. I have word of only one major printed leaflet he's dropped in the mail, aside from the handouts he's made to pass around. And besides YouTube-type videos, the only other money I've heard that Pat has spent is a very small cable TV ad buy. Rich Miller has the exact amount, but you have to be a Capitol Fax subscriber to find out how small.

So, what does this mean? If Pat is trying to avoid dipping into his personal contributions for fear that he's going to lose, that is going to become evident soon. It's less than 30 days till the primary election, so the money you've been trying to raise up to this point, well, now it's time to spend it. As coach used to say, leave it all out on the field, boys, there's no reason to save anything for after the game.

Candidates in Pat's position also have to consider their future in politics. If the word gets out that Pat didn't spend everything he had, including his loan funds, in an attempt to win, what does that say about his confidence in his campaign? And, how will his contributors feel, that he was willing to spend their money, but not his own, even though he crowed about the big 'investment' he made in his campaign? The next time around (if there is a next time), people will definitely think twice about contributing.

Of course, that also illustrates a problem with shooting for the stars for your first political outing. If you lose the race for U.S. Senate, where do you go from there? Village trustee? (not that there's anything wrong with being a village trustee... LOL).

I knew Pat pretty well in law school, and he's smart, honest, and has strong values and beliefs. But he's not any smarter than I am, and I'm not ready to be a U.S. Senator. Neither is Pat.

Let's see if that loan money gets spent. Then we'll know something about where Pat's coming from.


Anonymous said...

hughes has no shot. the conservatives have moved elsewhere. he can't muster up enough for his own day to day expenses much less the rest of the campaign.

the problem is not when you are pat hughes and no one thinks you can win. It's when you are john kerry, and you have 15 million left over of other peoples money and barely lost ohio.

green and dold have interesting choices to make. green has little shot at this point and has to decide whether or not he wants to throw the money in knowing what a long shot he is. dold same deal.

green will have to go negative-i doubt he is leading AND build his name id. that's expensive.


Team America said...

FOKLAEAPS (love that new handle!) - since I assume you don't believe that Dr. Arie has catapulted to the lead, based on your comments on Green and Dold, does that mean you think Coulson is that far out in front?

It's gotta be killin' you, man.

Anonymous said...

I am a freidman man. I like his guts and moxie and think if he had spent more than 5 minutes planning this race as opposed to dold who probably practiced his stump speech at the age of 5 like mcsweeney, he'd be a real comer. navy,doctor, jewish, and he seems like he might have some asshole in him which is good because I really really love republicans that eat sleep and poop hits on democrats.

dorgan is out. another seat the dems will have to fight to keep.

i have them losing now

dodd-more time to drink now, look out new haven bars next year.

burriss-double duh
bennet-not making the sale
reid-see daschle, thomas.
dorgan-can you name a nd dem?

specter-wont win his primary-HAHAHA-sucker

lincoln-walmart hates her guts, ask bill clinton what happens when you piss off your states biggest company.

what this means plus democrat efforts to win gop seats in missouri, nh, fla, and ohio is that alexi will have more competition for resources from the national party and the national party like they did with the pup in 06 will look to save incumbents first and then go to places it has challenges. In the last cycle the dscc played offense in 12 states, it will be fewer now.

there are also a ton of governors races they will pay attention for dnc and ofa $ as redistricting is a major pet of rahm who wants as many favorable maps for d's as possible.

the narrative is against the democrats and the media is going to focus ALL of their attention next year on the presidents weakness. If he had a really strong year this year, it would be juggernaut time, but he hasn't and blago is going to be the biggest bomb to go off coming from chicago since 1945, which will compound matters because that's all the media will talk about next year. i'm sure mark already has the ads in the can, for the day blago is convicted with all alexi's baggage. a corrupt ethnic chicago pol, couldn't have asked for a better opponent.

storm is passing sun shiny days are here again.

happy times!


Anonymous said...

Too bad no one wants to talk about Cap and Trade. I guess the writer is for Kirk. The Cap and Trade vote is real popular among folks employed in Illinois farming and coal. I guess Kirk plans on waiting until the Dont Ask Dont Tell fire-storm passes before he starts talking about his voting record or issues of the day.

Anonymous said...

the name change was the result of much discussion and thinking.

It's getting too long and after we win in november it will likely return to FOKLAES as it's too long of an acronym even for me to keep straight.

interestingly enough catlady has solidified her anti-israel bigot credentials by backing cheryle jackson. jackson thinks we should withdraw from afghanistan like the pup and shouldn't have invaded in the first place. probably because she like catlady's friends thinks the jews probably are responsible for 9-11.


Anonymous said...

FOKLEAPS, I'm glad that you think that Hughes has no shot. I hope that all of the conservatives (about 60% of Republicans) will vote for Don Lowery.

Conservative Veteran

Anonymous said...

Haha Bob Dold doesnt own his own home. Just confirmed. His daddy bought it from some lady in the 90s and lets Bobby live in it. Its good to be Bobby.

Anonymous said...

I think more republicans will plant flowers in their front yards between now and february 3 than vote for lowery.

Btw, doug o'brien, one of my choices to be our next congressman was on chicago tonight last night and destroyed his liberal opponent. what a missed opportunity.


Anonymous said...

Dick Green did mediocre to ok on his tele-townhall tonight. He kept talking over his listeners and you could tell he was getting frustrated at times.