The previous post on 1Q2020 spending noted that Adam Schleifer had accumulated $2,343,487 in campaign funds since he entered the race in early December 2019. Of that pile, I credited $409,687 to “real fundraising” - money received from actual third-party donors and not from Schleifer's own accounts or from obvious family members (i.e., people named "Schleifer"). I calculate Schleifer and family transfers to Adam's campaign account at $1,933,800 .
Building a campaign war chest of such size is imposing but Schleifer's spending is another matter altogether. Adam got into the race relatively late in December 2019 and reported only $18K in spending in his 4Q2019 financial reports. Well, he made up for that in 1Q2020:
You read that correctly: Adam Schleifer outspent the other seven Democratic primary candidates COMBINED in the first quarter of 2020 - $809,757 to $793,214.
On what did Mr. Schleifer spend his funds? #1 on his list was media buys in the amount of $293,610 - much more than any other campaign spent in total. His next leading expenses were campaign salaries and payroll items at $126K followed by consultants in the amount of $114,268.
Now to be fair, if we look at total spending in the campaign to date, the picture is different - to a degree:
Schleifer hasn't outspent the entire field for the duration of the campaign, although he has nearly tripled the next candidate, Mondaire Jones, in campaign spending - despite Mondaire’s five month head start. Nevertheless, while Adam's spending lead is reduced in this campaign-long view, it is still enormous.
Now, we'll look at one last category: cash-on-hand - the amount of money sitting in each campaign's account as of the the end of March 2020:
Cash-on-hand is not very useful because it does not tell use about the candidate's fundraising after April 1, 2020. For example, we learned that Mondaire Jones, alone among the candidates, has actually improved his (non family!) fundraising pace each of the three quarters he has been running for Congress. And here again, Schleifer doesn't lead the entire field, although he has comfortably more than double the available funds of Evelyn Farkas, the next candidate. But then again, cash-on-hand gives no insight into Schleifer's readiness to draw further from his fortune.
Money doesn't necessarily buy political races: Michael Bloomberg just proved that. Money, however, can buy media time and pay for mailings, which in turn, build name recognition. In a race where there is no incumbent and no candidate can claim broad name recognition, Schleifer’s willingness to invest his personal wealth in his campaign to outspend rivals in buying media time and mailings is a major advantage. The irony remains that Adam Schleifer is a pretty good fundraiser: he's #3 among the eight candidates in "real fundraising" without adding any of his own or family's money. He's been far more successful fundraising among friends, colleagues and admirers than long-time politicians Buchwald, Carlucci and Parker. But instead of playing on a level field, Schleifer has chosen to deploy his fortune and upend the race.
Seven candidates filed 1st Quarter 2020 financial disclosures (fundraising and spending) with the FEC. As before, these numbers warrant scrutiny and examination from several different angles. This report does not include Asha Castleberry-Hernandez (who will appear on the June ballot) because she did not file 1Q2020 financials with the FEC by the deadline.
First overall funds "collected" or "accumulated" (you'll see why I use this language below):
CAMPAIGN FUNDS ACCUMULATED: 1Q2020 and Total to-date
UPDATE: CASTLEBERRY-HERNANDEZ: 1Q2020: $13,755; CAMPAIGN TOTAL: $65,959
Rather impressive for Adam Schleifer, the attorney turned political novice, right? Viewed another way, Schleifer's campaign has accumulated $2,343,487 while the six other major candidates combined have raised $3,089,051. Schleifer's pile is more than double his closest rival in funds, Farkas, and almost triple the total that Mondaire Jones has gathered. This is real money that gives Schleifer a huge advantage in producing glossy mailings, buying ads, paying staff etc.
But as we found during the review of the 4th quarter 2019 filings, there are different ways to view the funding total which may provide more informative ways of considering the candidates. Consequently, I'm again resorting to "Real Fundraising" to subtract funds contributed by the candidates and close family members sharing the same last name.
UPDATE: CASTLEBERRY-HERNANDEZ 1Q2020: $13,250; CAMPAIGN TOTAL: $24,362
Measuring "real fundraising," we see that Schleifer falls to a distant third place. Schleifer has gained his funding advantage by handing over nearly $2 million of his own money and contributions from people sharing his last name. Still, for a political newcomer (who has spent little time living in CD17 in recent years), Schleifer's real fundraising would be impressive, except that he trails two other political newcomers, also with little time spent residing in the district in recent years (or none at all in Farkas's case) compared to other candidates.
Farkas's campaign is a fundraising machine and Mondaire Jones has shown consistency in bringing in money in his short political career, but the major story here is the poor performance of incumbent politicians named David. Senator Carlucci's not very impressive haul of $156K in 4Q2019 fell to $119K in 1Q2020. I would have assumed he would start to pick up momentum at this point. But the real shock is the collapse of Assenblyman Buchwald's fundraising efforts. Buchwald's "real fundraising" numbers plummeted from $257,178 in 4Q2019 (good for third place) to only $91,150 in 1Q2020, lowering him to fifth (!) place. How is it possible that these two young but veteran politicians, who have lived for decades in-district and have each won many primaries and elections, trail three complete newcomers in fundraising by a large distance?
Fundraising pace gives a good measurement of continuing fundraising success. Fundraising pace simply takes the "Real Fundraising" number and divides it by a the number of days in a selected time period. In 4Q2019, we could use fundraising pace to compare the candidates' fundraising success by taking into account when each candidate entered the race. We could then place into context Mondaire Jones's headstart in campaigning and fundraising. Now we can use fundraising pace to compare the candidates' ability to maintain fundraising after the initial enthusiasm of their launch dates when family, friends and colleagues could be expected to donate.
As expected, most of the candidate saw a sharp drop-off in fund raising pace, with many falling by two-thirds. Farkas's fundraising operation again holds a large lead, having fallen "only" in half. Buchwald disappoints again by falling from third in 4Q2019 when he out-paced Mondaire Jones and David Carlucci, to fifth place in 1Q2020. Carlucci had a relatively small decline but his numbers were low to begin with. The standout, however, is Mondaire Jones. Unique among the candidates, Jones has shown actual increases in "Fundraising Pace" in each of the three quarters since he entered the race. As opposed to formerly presumed contender Buchwald, whose fundraising operation shows disarray, the Jones team is picking up fundraising steam as the campaign progresses.
Previously, we also looked at small (non-itemized) donations. Mondaire Jones dominated that category in 2019, doubling Farkas, although it should be remembered that Jones had a big head start in time.
NON ITEMIZED (SMALL) DONATIONS 1Q2020
UPDATE: CASTLEBERRY-HERNANDEZ: $10,700
Small donations appeared previously to be Mondaire Jones's secret strength, confirming his appeal as an establishment outsider. He's still strong in this category, but 1Q2020 was the weakest of his three quarters, falling behind Farkas whose small donations also fell from 4Q2019 but not nearly as much as Jones. Buchwald's collapse comes in every fundraising category as his small donations fell in half from the previous quarter as also did Allison Fine's small donation total. Schleifer actually saw an increase in this category (who is giving him small donations?) and Catherine Parker, by doubling her pervious quarter total, earns a mention in this post for the first time.
The last category we will review in this first installment of analyzing the 1Q2020 financials is in-district fundraising among itemized donors. We can't tell the locations of small donors (contributing cumulatively under $250), but we have that information for individual itemized donors. In 4Q2019, David Carlucci won this category easily
IN-DISTRICT CD17 ITEMIZED DONATIONS
Farkas was the only candidate to actually gain in this category: progress among the actual voters whose support Farkas will need on primary day is as positive sign for her campaign. Everyone else fell, with Mondaire Jones falling the least, which allowed him to move up from second to first place. Carlucci's drop-off by more than half is a surprise here. Buchwald held steady with the actual number of donors, but their contribution amounts fell. Allison Fine also suffered a notable decrease.
Mondaire Jones and Evelyn Farkas are the only candidates with a genuine right to be pleased with the 1Q2020 financials. Both campaigns show strength, breadth and sustained energy in their fundraising efforts. The big story, however, is the rapid decline in Buchwald's fundraising. The favored son of the Westchester County Democratic Party establishment has to be very disappointed along with his donors. Buchwald's status as a first tier contender now is suspect until an actual poll shows otherwise. The Carlucci campaign's mediocre performance after a tepid launch in 4Q2019 is also dismaying - particularly to the author of a certain January 2019 report. Yet, all this analysis of fundraising and these small victories and disappointments seems myopic in light of the Schleifer financial domination. Adam Schleifer's willingness to deploy his personal fortune in service of his campaign and out spend his rivals by multiples calls into question much of the value of this analysis. Next, we'll start looking at spending to see where all this campaign money, especially the Schleifer fortune, is ending up.
Eight candidates turned in petitions with the requisite number of signatures and, as of today, April 6, I am not aware of any challenges having been filed against the validity of those petitions. As of the moment, it looks very likely that eight names will appear on the primary ballot (still scheduled for June 23rd): David Buchwald, David Carlucci, Asha Castleberry-Hernandez, Evelyn Farkas, Allison Fine, Mondaire Jones, Catherine Parker and Adam Schleifer. Four men, four women; three candidates in their 50s, one in his 40s, and four still in their 30s. Three long-time elected officials, and five running for office for the first time.
In the Journal News, David Wilson has recently run a few columns about the residency status of Evelyn Farkas which drew sharp comments from other candidates alleging that Farkas had not taken all necessary steps to give up her DC residency and establish herself fully in CD17. www.lohud.com/story/money/personal-finance/taxes/david-mckay-wilson/2020/04/01/congressional-candidate-evelyn-farkas-claims-d-c-tax-exemption-nita-lowey/5104056002/ and www.lohud.com/story/money/personal-finance/taxes/tax-watch/2020/04/03/congress-evelyn-farkas-dc-exemption-chappaqua-home/5116316002/.
Farkas's situation has prompted inquires into the nature of the candidates' residency in district. By examining voter registration records, we can put a quick end to speculation of this nature.
To be fair, we'll look at voting registration residency going back ten years for each candidate.
For five candidates (David Buchwald, David Carlucci, Allison Fine, Catherine Parker [See UPDATE below], and Asha Castleberry-Hernandez), the residency question is easily resolved because each appears to have continuously lived at the same in-district address since 2010, and some for many years, even decades, previously.
For the remaining candidates, it's a bit more complicated.
Mondaire Jones may have grown up in district and graduated from high school here, but he appears to have first registered to vote at an in-district address in Suffern in June 2017. He had previously registered at a New York City address in April 2015: he wasn't always living in-district, but he has resided and voted in New York State continuously since then. Jones then left the district to register in New Rochelle in July 2018 until returning to Nyack within CD17 in January 2019. In summary, Jones has lived in CD17 for more than 28 months over almost three years. As Jones is still only 32, we'll concede his right (and good sense) to live in New York City for a few years in his 20s before moving back to the 'burbs.
Adam Schleifer first registered to vote at his parent's Chappaqua home when he turned 18 back in 1999. After living at several different New York City addresses in the intervening years, Schleifer registered again at the same Chappaqua address in 2014. Schleifer's voting registration situation then becomes complicated and is best explained, again, by David Wilson of the Journal News: www.lohud.com/story/money/personal-finance/taxes/tax-watch/2019/12/12/adam-schleifer-ny-congress-california-voter/4410739002/. In short, Schleifer's Chappaqua registration went inactive in 2015, and he registered there again in December 2019 after he announced his candidacy for CD17. Schliefer does not appear to have voted in New York since April 2016.
Evelyn Farkas first registered to vote at her parent's home in 1988. It's not clear when she left New York State, but she registered to vote again in Chappaqua, after many years away, only on November 12, 2019, again at her parents' address, when she announced her candidacy for CD17. It does not appear that Farkas has voted in New York for several decades.
UPDATE (4/12): It was pointed out to me that while Catherine Parker has lived in Rye for decades, her home has not been in within CD17 since at least the 2013 redistricting.