Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I'll Raise You My Flip, To Your Flop

FIRST, The Numbers . . . Then, THE SPIN
Jay Nixon (D): Raised $1.4 million in monetary donations this quarter, received $50,872 in other contributions. Has $2.7 million on hand. The 460-page whopper of a report can't even be opened at one time.
Kenny Hulshof (R): Took in $904,474 during a quarter in which he had a late start, Received $2,209 in other donations. Reports $731,574 on hand.
Sarah Steelman (R): Reports $1.15 million over the past three months, but that includes a $500,000 personal loan -- and $70,000 more from the fam. That means Steelman really raised a little more than $600,000 through contributors. She holds $1.42 million on hand.
Parsing the Spin: Jay Nixon must be happy with his haul. And even happier he can watch a Republican primary feud in a year that's supposed to be golden for the Democrats. Nixon's first quarter is record-setting for a Governor's race. Matt Blunt raised just over a million in 2004. Bob Holden and Claire McCaskill combined for about $1.3 million that same year. Nixon boasts that 10,790 of his contributions are $100 or less, and if that holds up, it's a feat to be proud of. His campaign has also claimed to have raised $300,000 on the web. This means a clear Democratic leg-up in the money race, but who wants to bet the general election won't be close?
The Steelman and Hulshof camps spent the day boasting how fast they were able to raise money -- even with the odds and calendar working against them. Steelman computes she raised an average of $8,338 bucks a day (for 79 days). According to the Hulshof camp, Kenny bested her in the sprint. He was able to net $14,391 a day (in just 63 days). As a "key fact" on its press release, the Hulshof camp noted $0 "personal funds."
The expectations game between the Hulshof and Steelman camps has been slowly brewing for weeks. "We're facing a tough environment to raise money," said one Steelman adviser. "Kenny doesn't have the name I.D. Sarah has statewide," countered a Hulshof backer.
It's clear that Hulshof won the money raise in about of donations from contributors, but the Steelman camp feels like they've done the job to show they will be a force to remain in the game. The loan isn't only practical. It serves as a message that Steelman is personally invested and serious about capturing the nomination -- even with almost all of the G.O.P. establishment against her. It shows she's not planning on, shall we say . . . pulling a Kinder.
Before Hulshof's report was released, one of Steelman's Springfield moneymen speculated that Hulshof's recent $200,000 loan to the party "will come right back to him." "If we're within $250,000 not counting the loan, I think we look pretty good," he told me.
About thirty minutes before the Hulshof camp released its report, spokesperson Scott Baker seemed to want to turn the expectations game around. Baker seemed to imply that the Steelman camp had changed their expectations as the campaign progressed. Baker points to a KY3 Political Notebook blog post back in February. One of the Steelman's campaigns stated goals was to raise about $17,000 a day for the primary. It's clear that specific goal was not met. She did about half that. "That wasn't the spin (back then)," Baker noted.
On this busy day, the Hulshof campaign also stopped to keep their eye on the long ball, and that's Jay Nixon. They launched an attack on Nixon's "doublespeak." Baker noted that while Nixon told Jason Rosenbaum he "won't raise taxes," he then said something a bit different to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “What I said was very precise…I do not have any plans” to raise taxes."

“Missourians understand exactly what Jay Nixon was saying – he has no plans to raise taxes today, but check again tomorrow and the day after that,” seized Baker. “Missourians know what Jay Nixon is all about. He’s eager to raise their taxes and spend their money. Missourians are tired of this predictable misdirection play from the Jay Nixon playbook.”
Thirty-three minutes later, the state Democratic Party played tit-for-tat, accusing Hulshof of "flip-flopping" on campaign contribution limits. "Today Congressman Kenny Hulshof showed exactly why Missourians don’t need a Washington politician running our state, when the gubernatorial candidate said he now supports campaign contributions limits, even though 54-days-ago he said that he would in fact sign a bill to repeal them," said spokesman Jack Cardetti.

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