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Russell Moore: Raimondo’s Daunting Fundraising

Monday, April 28, 2014

 

Don't be surprised if Gina Raimondo is safely in front of her gubernatorial opponents come this summer, believes Russell Moore.

There's a school of thought, with respect to fundraising, which suggests that after a certain threshold is passed, additional funding starts to resemble the law of diminishing returns.

In other words, the money spent begins to have a less and less significant effect, and that time spent on fundraising could be better focused in other areas.

Sour Grapes

Reject this notion. The people who make this argument are, almost exclusively, those people who are getting out-fundraised and, what comes later, outspent. This idea harkens back to Aesop's "Sour Grapes" fable—wherein a fox, after making three unsuccessful attempts at jumping to seize grapes, remarks, "I'm certain those grapes were sour."

When Jesse Unruh, a former prominent California Speaker of the House and General Treasurer, said that "money is the mother's milk of politics", it may not have been the most pleasing truth—but it's a truth nevertheless.

So it was big news this Thursday when the gubernatorial campaigns of Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and General Treasurer Gina Raimondo—the two frontrunners in the race—released their fundraising totals for the 1st quarter of the year. Once again, Raimondo proved to be in a different fundraising league than Taveras.

Jaw Dropping

Raimondo raised about $1.1 million in the first quarter. That's jaw dropping. The Treasurer has about $3.3 million in cash on hand. It's safe to say that Raimondo is the most prolific fundraiser in the history of Rhode Island.

By comparison, Taveras raised about $500,000, and has about $1.35 million on hand—according to WPRI.com's Ted Nesi. That means, as things stand now, and I don't see this dynamic changing any time soon, every time the Taveras camp spends $1, Raimondo can spend $2.5.

Theoretically, she can run 2.5 times the commercials, send out 2.5 times the amount of direct mail, hire 2.5 times the amount of campaign staff—you get the idea.

The front-runner

Without doubt, like in business, it's not all about how much you spend. To some degree, it's about how you spend the money. But does anyone think Raimondo is going to spend her campaign cash foolishly?

What makes Raimondo the clear front-runner, to my mind, at this point, is the fact that the recent polling released shows her either in front, or in contention. Assuming those polls are correct, and she's close at this point, if not outright leading, the onslaught of campaign advertisements she'll unleash will only accelerate her race towards capturing the Democratic nomination.

Campaign finance reform

None of this is to suggest that this dynamic is fair, ideal, or even just. Clearly, there's something wrong with a system where the person who can raise the most money is the person who has the advantage towards winning the race.

Raimondo's critics will argue that her campaign contributors from Wall Street donate to her with the expectation of receiving something in return. Human nature being what it is, that may, in fact be the case. But does anyone who believes that really think that the bulk of Taveras' contributors hand him campaign cash saying "do what's best for the common good"?

Let's face it: Rhode Island, and America as a whole, needs campaign finance reform like blood.

Can Pell break through?

But at the same time, if candidates are restricted in their ability to raise campaign cash to too large of an extent—the country will become an oligarchy (even to more of an extent than it already is). If someone raised in Smithfield and from a middle class background can't raise campaign cash to get her message out, only the wealthy are going to be able to run for public office.

Which brings me to Clay Pell—the wild card in the race for Governor. Pell hasn't reported his fundraising numbers yet for this quarter (at least not up until this column's deadline), but fundraising doesn't have the same importance for Pell as Raimondo and Taveras. Taveras and Raimondo don't hail from a privileged background like Pell, who has the ability to self-fund.

Taveras' cruel summer?

Despite that ability, one wonders whether even money, powerful as it is, can propel the Pell campaign to the top. The question still remains whether or not Pell has the personal magnetism and ability to relate to the common, everyday Rhode Islander, that he'll need to win the race.

It will be interesting, as spring moves on and eventually becomes summer, to see the effect that money has on the race and to what extent it moves the polling in one direction or the other. Count me as one who won't be surprised to see it put Raimondo safely in front.

 

A native Rhode Islander, Russell J. Moore is a graduate of Providence College and St. Raphael Academy. He worked as a news reporter for 7 years (2004-2010), 5 of which with The Warwick Beacon, focusing on government. He continues to keep a close eye on the inner workings of Rhode Islands state and local governments.

 

Related Slideshow: Gina Raimondo CGF Campaign Donations

A well-connected network of wealthy and powerful donors who have pumped tens of thousands into the campaign coffers of General Treasurer Gina Raimondo are linked to a nonprofit promoted by her office. They include the former chairman of one of the largest toy makers in the world, the nation’s oldest auto insurance company, and other deep pockets from the banking and investment world. Below is a breakdown of all the key donors with ties to the nonprofit, the Capital Good Fund.

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Beshar Family Contribution

Total Contribution: $13,500

Jacqueline G. Beshar, Co-Chairwoman of Capital Good Fund

  • 9/27/2011  $1,000
  • 10/3/2012  $1,000
  • 3/4/2013  $1,000

 

Robert Beshar, Law Offices of Robert Beshar

  • 12/9/2012  $1,000
  • 12/15/2013  $1,000

 

Peter Beshar, Marsh & McLennan

  • 9/15/2010  $500
  • 8/22/2011  $1,000
  • 9/23/2012  $500

 

Christine Beshar, Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP

  • 12/9/2012  $1,000
  • 12/15/2013  $1,000

 

Frederica Beshar

  • 10/5/2012  $500

 

Scot Jones, Groov-Pin Corp. (Husband of Jacqueline G. Beshar)

  • 5/9/2010  $250
  • 6/4/2010  $750
  • 12/05/2011  $1,000
  • 10/3/2012  $1,000
  • 3/25/2013  $1,000
Prev Next

Hower Family Contribution

Total Contributions: $10,000

Lee Hower, Co-Chairman of Capital Good Fund

  • 12/16/2009  $1,000
  • 3/11/2010  $1,000
  • 7/7/2011  $1,000
  • 3/30/2012  $1,000
  • 2/16/2013  $1,000



Heather Hower, Brown University

  • 12/30/2009  $1,000
  • 3/11/2010  $1,000
  • 7/9/2011  $1,000
  • 3/30/2012  $1,000
  • 2/16/2013  $1,000
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Tobias Lederberg

Former Vice President of Capital Good Fund

Total Contribution: $5,000

  • 12/21/2009  $1,000
  • 3/30/2010  $1,000
  • 9/23/2011  $1,000
  • 3/31/2012  $1,000
  • 3/19/2013  $1,000
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Daugherty Family Contribution

Total Contribution: $4,125

William Daugherty, ANC Sports

  • 6/15/2012  $1,000
  • 3/24/2013  $1,000
  • 11/27/2013  $1,000

 

Tracy Daugherty, Homemaker

  • 11/29/2012  $125
  • 3/24/2013  $1,000

 

Note: Tracy and Bill Daugherty are individual donors to CGF.

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Jessica Ricci

Member of Capital Good Fund's Board of Directors

Total Contribution: $1,550

  • 10/14/2010  $50
  • 9/30/2011  $1,000
  • 10/31/2013  $500
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Citizens Bank

Total Contribution: $10,625

Edward O. Handy III

  • 3/25/2010 $750
  • 9/25/2010  $250
  • 3/28/2012  $500
  • 7/15/2013  $1,000

 

Maria Carlino

  • 9/27/2012  $1,000
  • 11/22/2013  $500

 

Donna Brady

  • 3/17/2010  $150
  • 10/5/2010  $250
  • 1/20/2012  $100
  • 7/15/2013  $200
  • 11/7/2013  $100

 

Barbara C. Garrahy

  • 8/24/2010  $100
  • 10/5/2010  $250
  • 9/12/2011  $250
  • 7/9/2013  $500

 

Stephen P. Higginbotham

  • 6/22/2010  $250
  • 10/5/2010  $250
  • 12/2/2013  $200

 

Michael Kennally

  • 9/6/2010  $150
  • 10/5/2010  $250
  • 7/15/2013  $250

 

James M. Hagerty

  • 5/3/2010  $250
  • 6/29/2010  $150
  • 10/6/2010  $250


Kenneth W. Robinson

  • 10/5/2010  $250
  • 7/15/2010  $500

 

Joseph Gleason

  • 9/12/2013  $200
  • 11/20/2013  $250

 

Kenneth B. Martin

  • 7/22/2013  $250

 

Gregory Kirwan

  • 10/4/2010  $250

 

Terrence W. Allen

  • 10/5/2010  $250

 

Anthony A. Botelho

  • 10/5/2010  $250

 

Gail Ginnetty

  • 9/26/2013  $50
  • 9/30/2013  $100

 

Peter R. Bakkala

  • 6/22/2010  $125

 

David Grassini

  • 2/6/2010  $100

 

Patricia E. Wegrzyn

  • 8/15/2012  $100

 

Stephen Craven

12/31/2013  $50

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Hassenfeld Family Initiatives

Total Contribution: $4,000

Alan G. Hassenfeld

  • 6/23/2010  $1,000
  • 8/17/2011  $1,000
  • 6/5/2012  $1,000
  • 9/5/2013  $1,000
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Bank Rhode Island

Total Contribution: $1,375

William C. Tsonos, Bank RI

  • 6/17/2010  $125
  • 9/13/2011  $250

 

Linda Simmons, Bank RI

  • 6/17/2010  $125
  • 9/12/2011  $250

 

Emanuel E. Barrows, Bank RI

  • 9/13/2011  $250

 

Mary E. Leach, Bank RI

  • 6/17/2010  $125

 

Steven M. Parente, Bank RI

  • 6/21/2010  $125

 

Robert H. Wischnowsky, Bank RI

  • 6/21/2011  $125
Prev Next

Sovereign Bank

Total Contribution: $2,225

Kevin J. Sullivan

  • 6/24/2010  $1,000

 

Michael Lee

  • 10/27/2012  $100
  • 12/31/2013  $25
Prev Next

TD Bank

Total Contribution: $1,575

Robert A. Kolb Jr.

  • 6/16/2010  $1,000

 

John Conte

  • 6/22/2010  $250

 

Rosalin Acosta

  • 6/30/2010  $150

 

Scott H. Sanborn

  • 6/22/2010  $125

 

Amy Beauchamp

  • 9/29/2013  $50
Prev Next

Ariel Investments

Total Contribution: $1,000

John W. Rogers Jr.

  • 9/15/2010  $1,000
Prev Next

New Roots Providence

Total Contribution: $325

Sabina Matos

  • 3/31/2010  $25
  • 6/20/2010  $25
  • 9/12/2011  $250
  • 12/30/2013  $25
Prev Next

Rockland Trust

Total Contribution: $250

William Lavelle

  • 6/24/2010  $250
Prev Next

Social Venture Partners Rhode Island

Total Contribution: $250

Kelly Ramirez

  • 6/6/2010  $100
  • 12/10/2012  $25
  • 9/24/2013  $25
  • 9/30/2013  $100
Prev Next

Rhode Island Foundation

Total Contribution: $100

Carol Einhorn

  • 3/31/2010  $100
 
 

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