I’m sure the TV stations and newspapers will give you some good info, but I doubt they’ll delve into the spending side too much.
That’s what we’ll focus on today.
But first...everyone stacked up against everyone:
- Gianforte: $507,000 raised, $623,000 in the bank
- Cooney: $249,000 raised, $142,000 in the bank
- Fox: $151,000 raised, $242,000 in the bank
- Olszewski: $37,000 raised, $98,000 in the bank
- Neil: $702 raised, $479 in the bank
Let’s get into the details.
Just two PACs gave to Cooney this period - Deloitte PAC and Health Care Service Corporation Employees PAC.
There are hundreds of individual contributors donating to Cooney, way too many for most people to go through. Perhaps the TV stations will delve into this as the campaign progresses.
Cooney is going with the typical Dem outfits, many of which we’ve seen other campaigns use...despite losing in their attempts.
Here are some spending items that stood out to me:
- $31,000 to D.C.’s Mothership Strategies for digital consulting services
- $17,000 to pay Helena’s Emily Harris for general consulting services
- $11,000 to Arizona’s the Money Wheel for compliance consulting services
- $10,000 to reimburse Emily Harris for a wide range of activities, such as software, travel, field supplies, photography, mailing, fundraising meals, and the like
- $7,500 to Missoula’s Brock Development for fundraising consulting services
- $6,500 for communications consulting services from Helena’s Magellan Communications
- $3,000 to Helena’s Tatum Curtis Design for digital and graphic design work
- $1,300 to the Billings Times for field supplies
- $1,000 to Chicago’s Apollo Artistry for digital consulting
- $660 to fly someone somewhere on Delta
- $630 to New York’s Blue State Digital for digital consulting
I encourage you to look at this article that discusses Mothership Strategies’ approach to email, which might not work that well, but which does cost an arm and a leg.
Mothership works heavily with the Progressive Turnout Project, and in 2016 they raised over $5 million. Mothership got $768,000 of that. Rob Quist then turned around and hired them for his special election race in 2017, giving them $25,000.
Those who hire Mothership usually lose.
Another one that worries me is Emily Harris as, what appears to be, the campaign manager.
Harris was paid $2,800 a month to work on the Denise Juneau campaign in 2016, and Juneau lost to Zinke, 56% to 40%.
Rob Quist then hired her to work on his campaign a few months later, and she was paid $2,500 a month at first, and then about $3,300 a month.
Quist lost that one to Gianforte, 49% to 44%.
Harris is big with Forward Montana and the LGBTQ crowd. I don’t know what Cooney sees in her, but I guess he thinks she has the winning formula for him. We’ll see how the staff on his campaign changes and grows as the cycle wears on.
Reilly Neill raised $702 for the period and spent $543. She now has $479 in the bank.
Besides the various loans to herself, just two people have donated to Neill.
Most of her spending consists of travel to a few campaign events, some website work, signs and stickers, and to rent a space to hold an event.
Perhaps one of the other candidates will tap Neill to be their Lieutenant Governor. Other than that, I don’t see her going anywhere after the primary.
Casey Schreiner doesn’t have a report up yet.
Whitney Williams doesn’t have a report up, and I don’t think she’s going to. I would like to know what she spent on that campaign rollout of hers, as well as printing and if she has staff. But like I said, I doubt we’ll see a report until the next due date, which is January 5.
PACs giving to Fox include the Cajun PAC, Deloitte PAC, Health Care Service Corp PAC, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP Fed PAC, PAC Enterprise Holdings Inc, and Trinity Industries Employee PAC.
The list of individual contributors giving to Fox is large, and would take some time to go through.
There’s a lot of spending, too. Here are some items of interest:
- $22,000 for monthly campaign consulting, email management, and website hosting to Image, a company based in Alexandria, Virginia
- $12,400 in campaign management fees to Cutter Consulting, based in Denver, and another $10,000 in fees and moving expenses to that company
- $9,000 for campaign consulting and communications research from the Jackson-Alvarez Group, based in Virginia
- $6,800 for political consulting and website development from Helena’s Western Consulting
- $6,000 for 1,200 fundraising letters and postage, which was from a company in Virginia (Creative Direct)
- $6,000 for consulting from Michael McMacken, based in Helena
- $6,000 for a primary survey from Public Opinion Strategies, based out of Virginia
- $5,200 in reimbursements to Tim Fox personally for various flights he’s taken, though we’re not told where or why, just that they happened between June and August
- $4,500 for 1,239 fundraising letters and postage from the same Virginia company
- $3,000 for campaign consulting from Gulledge Consulting, based in Polson
- $2,500 for a teleforum, which was put on with the help of a company based in Florida, Election Connections
- $1,900 for campaign photos
- $1,300 for tickets to the Lincoln Day Dinner in Missoula
- $1,300 to rent a campaign office in the Lion Building in Helena
- $1,200 for campaign t-shirts
- $1,000 for campaign strategy consulting from HCW & Associates, based in Virginia (plus a car rental)
- $1,000 to Jack Cutter for fuel, lodging and nametags
- $900 for a hotel room in Aspen
- $600 to fly someone on Delta to somewhere
- $270 for a flight to Denver
There’s a lot more in the report, but mainly just postage and printing and some meals and travel. Fox doesn’t have much of a staff right now, which allows him to build up that warchest.
I wish he was spending more money with Montana companies, and not those in Alexandria, or Richmond, or McLean...all cities located in Virginia.
What is this hold that Virginia has on Tim Fox? Does the D.C. beltway want their hooks in him? What opposing forces are at work behind the scenes...forces that would most likely be anti-Gianforte more than pro-Fox.
Of course, those companies love money and would take it from anyone.
Greg Gianforte raised $507,000 this period, and spent $328,000. He now has $623,000 in the bank.
How much of that was given to the campaign by Gianforte himself? It’s hard to say - there’s a note about this, saying “see attached,” but there’s no attachment.
$236,000 is the total to date listed as contributed, however, so perhaps that’s the whole story.
Gianforte is getting PAC money, but he’s also getting a bunch of money shuffled to him from other campaign accounts.
The PACs include Boots PAC, CMR PAC, Eye of the Tiger PAC, the Liberty Fund, and Reaching for a Brighter America.
Other campaign accounts giving to him include Friends of Matt Gaetz, Lahood for Congress, and Meadows for Congress.
All of these donations are in the $700 range.
When it comes to individual contributors, I think Gianforte has more than any of the other candidates filing reports this cycle.
On the spending side, there’s a lot. Gianforte is a big spender, and I’m going to focus on the big-ticket items. Highlights include:
- $45,000 for a voter preference telephone poll, conducted July 7-10, and put on by Portland, Oregon’s Moore Information
- $40,000 for a 30-second TV ad that ran from July 3-16
- $36,000 for campaign consulting work in August with Billings’ the Political Company
- $25,000 for a media and advertising production with Virginia’s FP1 Strategies
- $20,000 with the Political Company for various printing and fundraising emails
- $15,000 with Billings’ Ultra Graphics to do a mass mailing
- $9,000 to Maryland’s Big Sky Strategies for campaign strategy communications consulting
- $1,500 to rent an office in Bozeman
Gianforte has a lot of staff.
There’s Casey Collins in Helena, making around $1,000 a paycheck. We have Dan Duffy in Missoula making nearly $2,000 a paycheck. Karli Hill working out of Lewistown and making about $1,600 a paycheck. Devin Morrison is working in Bozeman and getting $1,000 a check. Victoria Thomas is in Bozeman as well, making $1,000 a check.
Around $10,000 was spent on payroll taxes for the period to have those people on staff.
That’s five different staffers, all doing...something. I suppose the main task at this point is to just keep raising money. Gianforte seems to be doing well there, and I have a feeling he might give less to his campaign this year than he did last year, when he put in $1 million. He definitely won’t need to pour in $5 million, like he did for his 2016 run.
I think this race is Gianforte’s to lose. We’ll see how much he and Fox beat each other up over the next 8 months.
Al Olszewski raised $37,000 for the period and spent $49,000. He now has $98,000 in the bank.
Olszewski has a lot of individual donors. A fun side project for an up-and-comer somewhere might be to compare all the individual donors to the various GOP gubernatorial candidates, and how this sizes-up against our list of known antagonists. Which camps of moderates and conservatives, reactionaries and Tea Partiers are supporting who, and why?
Alas, I won’t be doing that.
I will give you a few spending highlights:
- $12,000 to Billings’ Montana Consulting Services for digital services
- $2,300 was spent on two newspaper ads with the Yellowstone County News
Olszewski does have staff. He’s paying Joe Chester of Bozeman $627 every two weeks to help run his campaign, and another $1,472 over the same period to Ian Sibbert of Kalispell for campaign work. In addition, $200 or so dollars is paid every two weeks for payroll taxes on them, plus $61 for unemployment taxes.
Besides that, there’s not a whole lot of big spending.
Olszewski has a huge uphill battle, against two competing juggernauts in the Montana GOP. I don’t think he’ll fair much better than he has in the past, such as last year when he got 18.7% of the vote in the Senate primary. His only real hope is that Fox and Gianforte beat the hell out of each other, and voters are so turned off they vote for Al because they're sick of it all.
That’s a slim straw to grasp at, however. There is a very good chance he’ll get appointed to whichever GOP candidate wins the governor’s office, which is highly likely after 16 years of Democratic control there.