When candidates for political office unveil their fundraising totals next Monday, the state’s best-known political scientist will have his eyes peeled on two races in particular.
The influence of money, according to former Middlebury College professor Eric Davis, will be most keenly felt in the Democratic primary for attorney general and the gubernatorial contest between Peter Shumlin and his Republican rival Randy Brock.
In the race for attorney general, Davis says the significance won’t lie in total dollars raised, but in the difference between the sizes of the candidates’ war chests.
Challenger TJ Donovan has picked up a slew of key labor endorsements, nods that should aid his fund-raising efforts. Seven-term incumbent Bill Sorrell, meanwhile, has the backing of some high-profile members of the old guard with strong connections to well-heeled donors.
“I think if one out-raises other by 50 percent or more, that extra money will make a big difference in the last six weeks before the primary,” Davis says.
Davissays he doesn’t anticipate much of a mass media push from either candidate leading up the Aug. 28 vote. But additional capital resources for labor-intensive field operations focused on voter identification and turnout, he says, could tip the scales for one candidate.
In the governor’s race,Davissays he’ll be far more interested in the numbers posted by Brock than Shumlin. Shumlin has already proven his ability to attract checks, raising more than $1 million in the last cycle.
“My sense is that Brock doesn’t have to match Shumlin, but to be competitive he needs to raise somewhere between $750,000 and $1 million by Election Day,”Davissays.
Based on an analysis of past cycles,Davissays that means Brock will have to be about halfway there by Monday’s disclosure deadline.
“If he’s somewhere between $350,000 and $450,000, then he’s on track,” Davis says. “If he’s less than $300,000, than that’s cause for concern from Brock’s point of view.
On the same reporting deadline in 2010, Republican Brian Dubie posted $943,000 in fund-raising totals, compared to only $418,000 for Shumlin, who at the time was still embroiled in a five-way Democratic primary. Shumlin’s total included a six-figure personal loan.
There’s been no sign yet of any presence from the RGA or DGA, two groups that spent heavily on behalf of their parties’ candidates in 2010. By July 15 of 2010, the RGA’s political action committee, Green Mountain Prosperity, had already raised $159,000 for their pro-Dubie PAC.