We’ll go through them in alphabetical order today.
Jacob Elder’s report was the last to come out today, late in the afternoon.
We see that he raised just under $20,000 for the month, spent $11,350 and now has $22,500 in the bank.
$500 was spent with Google for ads, and $700 went to I 360 for database access (I have no idea what that last one is). Around $1,200 was spent with a printer in Butte for postcards, banners, and thank-you cards.
The biggest expenditure this period came in a separate report, filed earlier than this main report. In it, we see Elder spent $8,000 with Missouri’s Ax Media for a single TV ad that will run on ABC, CBS, and NBC from August 24 to 30. The subject matter of the ad is to introduce the candidate and give a “brief glimpse of his thoughts on change for Missoula.”
He also spent another $385 for 50 T-shirts. Personally, I think the shirts are a big waste of money.
Nothing in his donor list stood out to me, aside from a lot of people in construction-related industries.
John Engen’s report came out before noon on Friday. In it we see he raised almost $13,000 more for his campaign, spent an additional $9,350 and now has about $26,000 left in the bank.
In the days leading up the the main report, Engen also had to file reports if anyone gave him money or if he spent money within the past 24 hours.
One donation that came to him was $100 from Soft Landing Missoula’s own Mary Poole.
Donations like this are common, whether from homeless advocates or engineers or lawyers - all want to rub Engen’s back now so he’ll rub theirs later. It’s called corruption, and sadly, it’s perfectly legal.
Melanie Brock, who just announced her Missoula Redevelopment Agency would be giving the city $315,000 in TIF money to rehab a northside property for workforce housing, donated $54.99 (couldn’t do a penny more?).
Other names that stand out to me are John Datsopoulos, Dorothea Lambros, Dan Kemmis, Shane Moigeau, Todd Mowbray, Mike Nugent, Richard Opper, Brian Schweitzer, Hal Stearns, among others.
Many of these folks gave the maximum of $180 for the primary, and another $180 for the general. Both of the candidates that advance are lucky we had a primary, as it legally allows them to raise twice the money. So far from the reports, this is favoring Elder a lot more, as he’s ahead of Engen in fundraising in that department, something we’ll get to below.
Let’s get into the spending.
One of the larger expenditures was $900 to Brock Development for campaign fundraising consulting services. Emily Brock currently heads up the firm, and she’s related to Melanie Brock, who heads up the MRA. Conflict of interest, perhaps?
Someone named Sarah Fergeson does the social media for Engen’s campaign, and she was paid $500 for the month.
CB Pearson is the campaign manager for Engen, and made $1,000 for the month.
Tenacious Campaigns of Missoula made $3,000 for campaign consulting communication work.
Nearly $2,000 was given to Missoula’s Alpha Graphics for various print work. Some of these expenditures included printing, postage and mail prep for 3,877 letters.
I find this interesting. We have over 49,000 households in the city, yet just under 4,000 of them will get a mailer. This tells me Engen is sticking close to the Democratic VAN, mainly focusing on strong-and-leaning Democrats.
I just don’t think that’s going to be enough to take out Elder, who has gotten a lot more specific on the issues since he lost the first debate.
Shawn Knopp raised $2,665 this past month, spent nearly $2,000 and now has $1,300 left in the bank.
Knopp’s biggest expenditure this past month was $1,600 for 100, 1-minute radio ads to appear on stations The Ride and The Ranch (I've never heard of that last one).
Aside from that, he spent about $350 on 4,100 double-sided flyers. I’m not sure if he plans to pass these out at the doors, or do some kind of bulk-mailing with the Post Office, which typically costs around $1,200...at least when I checked years ago.
I don’t think Knopp has any chance of getting past the primary, despite the endorsement from the Missoula GOP, and despite him having almost as many signs out there as Elder does.
It’s very hard for Republicans to win in this town, even when they have the experience of prior runs. Knopp doesn’t have that experience, nor does he have a very good speaking style, or firm grasp of the specifics on the issues.
Finally there’s Greg Strandberg. He didn’t raise any money, didn’t spend any money.
Only two people believed enough in him to give him any money, and that was two months ago.
Jacob Elder’s been running for office since July 2020, or 13 months now. In that amount of time, he’s raised nearly $52,000.
John Engen didn’t start raising money until April 2021, and in that time he’s brought in about $56,500.
Shawn Knopp has raised $6,400 in the two months since he filed, though $3,700 of that are loans he made to himself.
The nice thing for both Elder and Engen is that the primary allows them to raise twice the amount of money from the same person. By law, you can only donate $180 to a candidate...but if there are two elections in the same year (primary and general), you can donate the $180 twice.
This has favored Elder by nearly a factor of 2-to-1 against Engen. For the primary, Elder has raised $34,000 compared to the $18,000 that Engen has raised. This is critical, because going into the homestretch after the primary, Elder will have a lot more donors to ‘re-draw’ upon when it comes to donations. If even half of them give, Elder stands to make an additional $16,000 from reliable donors, while Engen could take in $9,000.
Of course, this is all speculation, and the kind that hinges upon both those men winning the primary, which most figure will happen.
Both have around the same amount in the bank: $22,000 for Elder and $26,000 for Engen. And remember, Engen hasn’t done anything with signs...yet. Once he does, you’ll see them all over the place, and quite a few will be the super-large ones.
Elder isn’t doing as well on the sign-front as I thought he would be. Hell, I’m seeing nearly as many Knopp signs! But then, Knopp has the aid of the Republican Party, while Engen has the aid of the Dems. Elder has thrown together a haphazard coalition of mostly conservative advisors.
So far his strategy seems to be working, at least on the money front. He’s doing a lot better than any candidate in years. For instance, during the mayoral race in ‘17, by the time the August reports came out we saw that Engen had $54,000 to Triepke’s $11,000.
Elder is also going to do a major TV and radio ad blitz, kicking-off the day ballots go out on August 25 and ending the day of the primary, September 14. He sure has enough money to do it, and as we saw, has already spent $8,000 to get started.
I have no doubt that Engen will match this ad spending. Even Knopp is doing radio ads!
Right now it seems that Elder has the initiative. He’s raising a lot more money than many thought was possible, he has the charisma, and he’s finally getting a firm grasp of the issues, with specifics on the problems and the solutions. He still has problems on social media, and something could come out of left field on those previous sexual allegations (October surprise?). For now, he seems about tied with Engen.
Engen has the gift of incumbency, and a lot of bureaucrats and non-profit-types whose jobs depend on him being in office. He also has a lot of money, though his donations have decreased substantially since his initial report. He does seem extremely confident that he’ll win the primary, as he hasn’t bothered to put out a single yard sign.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the coming weeks.