Thursday, November 1, 2012

Independent expenditures: the rest of the money story

Yesterday, I looked at the campaign finance reports for the candidates in contested Central Mass. house races (part one, part two), and the fights for the senate. While the reports tell a lot about the financial state of a particular race, they only tell part of the story. Another part is the role that independent groups play in sending mailings, paying for advertisements, and otherwise supporting candidates, ostensibly independent of the candidate’s campaign.

In Central Mass., Democratic candidates for house and senate have received $65,000 of support from independent expenditures in the last two weeks of the campaign, while Republicans have benefited from only $8,300 from outside groups. In some cases, the expenditures have been made in high-profile campaigns where the control of the seat has a chance of changing hands. In other cases, a tiny mailing here or there probably serves only to remind the candidate who his or her supporters are. Here is my review of independent expenditures in Central Mass. races since October 15:

Second Franklin
Denise Andrews (D-Orange, inc.)
Susannah Whipps-Lee (R-Athol)
Richard Schoeber (U-Templeton)
The only independent expenditure in October was a small mailing from the 1199SEIU Mass. PAC advocating Andrews’ reelection. It’s a bit of a surprise that there have not been more independent expenditures given the general sense that this might be the best chance a GOP challenger has to pick up a seat in the state house. Does the lack of outside activity mean that Boston thinks Andrews has it wrapped up, or is it an indication that Whipps-Lee is a shoo-in following Andrews’ self-immolation over the bogus cocaine charges leveled against the challenger?

Third Middlesex
Kate Hogan (D-Stow, inc.)
Chuck Kuniewich (R-Hudson)
Outside groups have funded five mailers in support of Hogan in the last two weeks, including three from the Mass. Teachers Association. The 1199SEIU Mass. PAC and the SEIU Local 509 have also supported the incumbent. Kuniewich has not yet received any such support from outside groups.

Fourth Middlesex
Danielle Gregoire (D-Marlborough)
Steven Levy (R-Marlborough, inc.)
The good people of the ‘Boroughs are probably ready for election day, as they have been deluged with direct mail from the state house campaigns in addition to the US Senate race. Gregoire has been supported by seven mailings alone in the last two weeks: three from the aforementioned MTA, two from the statewide 1199SEIU Mass. PAC, one from the SEIU Local 509, and one from Levy has received late support from the Mass Fiscal Alliance. The indication is that both sides find this to be one seat worth fighting for.

Sixth Middlesex
Carolyn Dykema (D-Holliston)
Martin Lamb (R-Hopkinton)
All three of the mailings in support of Dykema have come from the MTA. You may be noticing a pattern: when the MTA supports a candidate, it has done so with three mailings: October 18, October 22, and October 30. Lamb has not received independent expenditure support from right-leaning groups to date.

Second Worcester
Neither Republican incumbent Rich Bastien or Democratic challenger Jonathan Zlotnik have received support from independent groups, reinforcing the idea that this is a low-profile race with little chance of changing hands.

Fourth Worcester
Dennis Rosa (D-Leominster, inc.)
Justin Brooks (R-Leominster)
Rosa has only received the support of one small mailing from SEIU Local 509. While many other Democrats receive support from other liberal groups such as the MTA and, Rosa is one of the most conservative Democrats in the legislature and is not likely to benefit from those groups even though this race is expected to be competitive.

Fifth Worcester
Anne Gobi (D-Spencer, inc.)
Justin Brooks (R-Leominster)
Gobi has only received the support of one small mailing from SEIU Local 509. In previous cycles she has received support from the MTA, the Mass. Nurses Association, and the 1199SEIU Mass. PAC. This suggests that the outside groups do not see this as a competitive race, as opposed to an indication of a lack of support.

Sixth Worcester
Kathleen Walker (D-Charlton)
Peter Durant (R-Spencer, inc.)
Walker has received the supports of the three mailings from the MTA that other endorsed candidates have enjoyed, as well two mailings from the 1199SEIU Mass. PAC. Interestingly, the three mailings from the MTA were significantly more expensive than for many other Central Mass candidates, suggesting a much wider distribution in the sixth district than MTA mailings in other districts. The additional support and the lack of outside help for Durant have more than closed the fundraising gap between the two.

Eighth Worcester
Robert Dubois (D-Blackstone)
Kevin Kuros (R-Uxbridge, inc.)
Dubois has received the three-mailer support from the MTA. The Mass. Fiscal Alliance dropped their single, large mailing yesterday. This is one of the few races where the Republican has received more outside support than the Democrat.

Fourteenth Worcester
Jim O’Day (D-West Boylston, inc.)
William McCarthy (R-Worcester)
Winthrop Handy (U-West Boylston)
O’Day has received the supports of the three mailings from the MTA that other endorsed candidates have enjoyed, as well two mailings from the 1199SEIU Mass. PAC. He also received support of a large mailing from the Mass. Nurses Association. No right-leaning group has felt an expenditure on behalf of McCarthy would be worth the expense.

Fifteenth Worcester
Mary Keefe (D-Worcester)
Brian O’Malley (R-Worcester)
Keefe has received the support of two 1199SEIU MA PAC mailings in the last month. However, she received nearly $18,000 of outside support during the contentious Democratic primary, suggesting that the outside groups know what everyone in Worcester knows: the race in this district was over on September 6.

Seventeenth Worcester
John Binienda (D-Worcester, inc.)
William LeBeau (R-Leicester)
Binienda has received support from both the statewide and local SEIU groups. My guess is that those two small expenditures are more of a lifetime achievement award than an infusion of needed support late in a campaign, since Binienda has $400K in the bank and doesn’t need the help to swamp the underfunded LeBeau. Statewide conservative groups probably believe the same thing, as they have not pitched in on the challenger’s behalf.

Eighteenth Worcester
If you look above to candidates Gregoire and Walker, you’ll see what kind of support a Democratic challenger gets against a freshmen Republican if the left-leaning groups think they have a shot to regain the seat. Compare that to Webster Democrat Donald Bourque, who has received the proverbial donut. Republican incumbent Ryan Fattman has 64,000 reasons why he doesn’t need help from conservative groups, and why it would be a waste for anyone to spend money on Bourque’s behalf.

Middlesex and Worcester Senate
Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton, inc.)
Dean Cavaretta (R-Stow)
All of Eldridge’s outside support come in the form of one mailing from the SEIU Local 509.  Cavaretta has not pulled any help from outside groups.

Second Worcester Senate
Michael Moore (D-Millbury, Inc.)
Stephen Simonian (R-Auburn)
Three mailers have been sent in support of Moore, two by the state SEIU and one from the local branch. As a senate district is roughly four times the size of a house district, three mailings cost quite a bit more than a similar effort in support of a house candidate. Simonian has not yet received outside support for his challenge.

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