Reaction to the Public Policy Polling (PPP) Poll sponsored by Greenburgh Democrats* continues today: it's the featured story in The Intercept today and Barrett Seaman is first on the scene in Westchester in the Hudson Independent. A New York Times story should be coming shortly. With the Journal News's astounding decision to furlough much of its political reporting staff for the week, we don't know when to expect an update on the CD17 campaign in our only daily regional newspaper. Reaction to the poll ranged from elation among the Mondairiacs (but some serious resolve from the candidate himself) to dismissal and skepticism from the other camps, including challenges to the polls validity coming from some candidates' disappointed staff and supporters.
* Full disclosure: I am a Greenburgh District Leader and part of the committee that raised funds to pay for the poll and contracted with PPP to conduct the poll. I am also acting as spokesman for this group of Greenburgh Democratic Party activists. This poll was arranged with a nationally-reputed polling firm independently of any campaign interference and was not coordinated with any campaigns.
ADAM UPS THE ANTE
Undeterred, and perhaps spurred, by the PPP results, Adam is pushing in more of his chips tonight to infuse his campaign with another $450,000 of his own money. This new loan raises the Schleifer family investment in Adam's campaign to $4,453,662 (I'm including contributions from family members named Schleifer because I don't see a real difference in the source of all these Schleifer funds). Let's ponder these numbers for a moment. We know from FEC filings that as of June 3, 2020, Schleifer has already spent $4,103,004 on his campaign. At that time, he had $368,525 cash on hand. I assume he wouldn't need another $450K unless he has already blown through most of that $368K. Let's give Adam the benefit of the doubt and allow him $100K left in campaign funds on June 23: that will mean he will certainly spend $4.8million on his campaign. Bear with me: let's assume record turnout of 80,000 and even imagine that Adam gets up to 25% and pulls this out, with 20,000 voters. That means that Schleifer - in this best case scenario - will spend $240 per vote. This may be an unprecedented per vote sum for a House race (at least for general elections; I'm not sure about primaries). And then, if Adam gets closer to 12,000 votes (which is what I expect), his per vote spending threatens to approach a mind-boggling $400 per vote.
PAC 'EM IN
Mondaire Jones continues to see last minute PAC money flowing to help his campaign: the Equality PAC just handed over $17,000 with $12,500 going to Sage Media Planning & Placement Inc for television advertisement and $5000 going Silversmith Strategies for television production. Equality PAC is the "political arm of the Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus."
Regular readers here will now be well familiar with the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC which today gave $20,824 to Deliver Strategies LLC for direct mail on behalf of Mondaire, raising that PAC's generosity up to $155,466 spent to help Mondaire's campaign.
Yesterday, the mysterious "dark money" Fight for the American Dream PAC gave another $12,000 to Middle Seat for "online advertising" to help Mondaire Jones and raising this PAC's total contributions up to $128,174. Jones continues to be "Fight" PAC's only beneficiary.
With at least $380,000 in PAC money this month, Mondaire Jones has now sped far ahead of Evelyn Farkas in outside PAC contributions paid directly to vendors to benefit the campaign.
Mondaire Jones also collected an impressive $38,200 in itemized contributions on just June 14 and 15 (Farkas by contrast raised $9691 in itemized contributions over the same two days). With this strong finish, Jones is approaching $1.6million in fundraising (including outside PAC spending) and may well surpass Farkas by the time the campaign ends.
Evelyn's only PAC supporter, Emily's List, has been quiet in recent days.
The national polling firm, Public Policy Polling, released the results of its poll of 1,141 likely Democrat primary voters in New York’s 17thCongressional District, taken via phone and textover June 15-16, 2020.
These results will make Mondaire Jones and his supporters very happy and even confident:
David Buchwald .............................................. 8%
David Carlucci................................................ 11%
Asha Castleberry-Hernandez......................... 3%
Evelyn Farkas................................................. 14%
Allison Fine .................................................. . 2%
Mondaire Jones .............................................25%
Adam Schleifer............................................... 14%
Not sure .......................................................... 24%
Significantly for Mondaire Jones, his lead over Farkas and Schleifer (tied for second) is outside of the margin of error of 2.9% . But 24% remain undecided. Full poll results here. www.greenburghdems.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/NYCD17Results.pdf
Some loose ends with eight days**** to go.
Mondaire Jones is the beneficiary today of a $72,500 contribution from the End Citizens United PAC with $65,000 of that going to Sage Media Planning & Placement for "media buy" and $7500 to Silversmith Strategies for "production estimate," whatever that means. This PAC tends to give to Democratic incumbents, and is also very focused this year on defeating Sen. Susan Collins, so it's interesting that they picked out Mondaire Jones in CD17 - maybe the NY Times endorsement is literally paying off for Mondaire? Can anyone identify another PAC that supports both Mondaire Jones and Elliot Engel?
Speaking of the the New York Times, the "newspaper of record" is working on an article about the CD17 race.
If you are reading this, you'll also be interested in the recent The New Yorker radio hour: in the second segment from this week's podcast, Eric Lach talks about his recent article on the CD17 campaign and has some great quotes from our maester of local politics, Barrett Seaman.
The Yonkers Times, which previously published a hit piece on Mondaire Jones, bizarrely posted and then quickly took down an attack on Evelyn Farkas and her defense industry/government connections which seemed largely lifted from the The Intercept attack from a few weeks ago. Yonkers isn't in CD17, so I'm not sure why they are making their platform available for such things
Mark Lungariello at the Journal News has a story on campaign finances, much of which we covered here. Mark is a real, professional reporter (not a lazy blogger) and gets some good quotes from the candidates, with most attacking Schleifer's spending and Schleifer singling out Farkas for return fire. It is interesting to me that the only two candidates who have actually won elections, Carlucci and Buchwald, declined this opportunity to attack their rivals.
Residents have been getting robocalls from George Latimer on behalf of David Buchwald.
The inestimable Barrett Seaman gives us a valuable guide to the mechanics of voting in this very confusing primary over at the Hudson Independent. Casting your ballot should be so easy, but it's always so complicated.
**** Anyone really believe we'll have a definitive decision on June 24? Want to start a betting pool on when we'll have the winner officially declared? I'm claiming July 6. We'll think of an appropriate prize for the winner,. Maybe a complete leather bound collection of Adam Schleifer flyers - both volumes?
The candidates' recent FEC filings tell us about their spending through June 3, 2020. The spending numbers are startling, because of their imbalance. The "previous" column is spending through the close of March 2020. 2Q measures spending from April 1 through June 3. "Total" is the two numbers combined.
To make the totals more closely reflect reality, I've added in the outside Super PAC money that has been spent on behalf of Farkas and Jones that I mentioned in the previous post. If you look closely at recent mailings from both candidates, you'll see that some have been paid for by these PACs. I've also left in the "in kind" expenditures which are not very substantial at this point.
The glaring takeaway is that since the beginning of April and through June 3, Adam Schleifer spent more than all other candidates combined. Looking at all spending to date in the campaign through June 3 (excluding Nita Lowey), Schleifer has similarly exceeded all his competitors. Among all candidates, of any party, in all of New York's 27 congressional districts, Schlelfer's spending is exceeded only by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has spent $6,157,923 for her primary and he is followed most closely by Republican Elise Stefanik running unchallenged in NY's 21st district where she has spent $3,256,047. Unlike Schleifer, however, both Congresswomen are cash raising talents who haven't needed to donate or loan their own money to their campaigns. A few other candidates (Hakeem Jeffries, Carolyn Maloney, Lee Zeldin) are hovering around $2,000,000 in spending, although in these other races I'm not adding in Super PAC money which might be substantial in a few.
How do you spend $3,275,608 on a campaign in just over two months? Actually, I think this total on the FEC summary is underreported by $100,730 when I add up the individual expenses using the excel file provided by the campaign, but maybe I'm misunderstanding the raw numbers. Schleifer's biggest expenses by far are payments to SKD Knickerbocker in the amount of $2,468,112 for "media buy." Also on the subject of media, Schleifer paid media consultant firm Berlin Rosen $486,777. The next biggest expense was payroll and associated expenses in the amount of $247,541. The remaining really big item was polling for $85,130 from Anzalone Liszt Grove Research Inc. Again, this spending is for April 1 through June 3 only.
The candidates filed their financial reports with the FEC for March through June 3, which means it's time to review who raised, and who really raised.
First: This table reports "All Money Received" - this is everything the candidates brought home, including loans, gifts from dad, mom and spouses, itemized contributions reported after 6/3, PACs and even Super PACs money that the FEC does not record as contributions. This is all the money flowing around in this campaign to date that I can find, including a Super PAC donation on behalf of Mondaire Jones I learned about tonight.
In All Money Received, Schleifer is killing it in both the second quarter of 2020 as well as the campaign to date. But how much of this is money actually raised by the candidate from third parties? To find the "Real Money" received by the candidate, I'm taking out candidate contributions, candidate loans, contributions from immediate family members, refunds and rebates added back into revenue. I think "Real Money" is a more accurate measure of a candidate's appeal.
With "Real" fundraising we see the impact of the personal contributions of Schleifer and, to a lesser degree, Buchwald. The "All Money Received' leader falls from 54% in 2Q to 4% when counting just "Real" fundraising, and from 48% overall to just 10% - a distant third behind Farkas and Jones. Real fundraising also reveals that, as of 2Q 2020, Buchwald is also basically self-funding his campaign.
Note: I'm including "Super Pac" money in Real Fundraising 2Q and Total columns, even though this money is not otherwise counted by the FEC as fundraising receipts. This category, as I'm using it, applies to money allocated by PACs to third party vendors for benefit of the candidate, but never actually going directly to the candidate's campaign account. Evelyn Farkas's Super Pac total of $274,741 comes entirely from Emily's List's Women Vote! Pac, with some of these funds earmarked for opposition to Adam Schleifer.
Mondare Jones's outside PAC help comes from the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC ($134,642), the new and mysterious Fight for the American Dream PAC ($116,174) and The Collective Super PAC ($6923).
Some campaigns like to boast about their small donor or "grassroots" donor appeal. Small donations are not very consequential in this race. The total of small donations (from donors who cumulatively donate less than $200 per campaign cycle) is $554,946 which is 12% of "Real" donations or just 6% of All Money Received.
Jones is in first place but that lead is attributable to the $52,525 in small money donations he raised in the 3Q 2019 before the other candidates entered the race. Farkas has a small lead over Jones in small money since she entered the race.
Next we'll look at spending
I was working on the latest FEC filings but put them aside because the biggest endorsement of the campaign came in this evening. After a review of the various candidates, The New York Times endorsed Mondaire Jones , writing as follows:
"The best candidate to replace her is Mondaire Jones, an official in the Department of Justice in the Obama administration and a former lawyer in the Westchester County Law Department. For Mr. Jones, policy is personal. The child of a single mother who relied on food stamps and lived in Section 8 housing, he eventually graduated from Stanford University and Harvard Law School, and he supports universal child care and tuition-free college. Mr. Jones is a candidate who can finally bring representation to every part of this diverse district, which spans Rockland and Westchester Counties, and includes great wealth as well as pockets of deep poverty."
The Times also was positive but less effusive about Evelyn Farkas: "Evelyn Farkas, another candidate in the race, has significant support from the Democratic establishment, including former Secretary of State John Kerry, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Representative Tom Malinowski and Emily’s List. A former deputy assistant secretary of defense specializing in Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, Ms. Farkas helped create a strategy to protect Ukraine from Russian military intervention and was among the first to warn about Russian aid to Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign." And Asha Castleberry-Hernandez was recognized as having "the kind of talent that deserves to be encouraged." The Times slyly uses Allison Fine's own words "that it’s time for someone 'outside the system to bring in new ideas and energy' as vindication for its endorsement of her rival. In addition to the expected dismissal of David Carlucci for his IDC past, the Times unsheathes its daggers for David Buchwald, declaring him disqualified for his vote against NYC renter protection. The cruelest cut, however, is reserved for Adam Schleifer whom the Times doesn't deign to mention.
So congratulation to Mondaire Jones on his anointment by the New York Times which will almost certainly be the most influential endorsement in the race. The first time candidate has come a long away since announcing his primary challenge against Nita Lowey almost one year ago.
PACS ARE BACK
In addition to the big NYT announcement, Mondaire Jones was also the beneficiary of contributions of $116,174 from the mysterious Fight for the American Dream PAC which will go to Convergence Targeted Communications for "direct mail" and Middle Seat for advertising and production. This appears to be Fight's first candidate contribution. I can't find any information about this PAC except that it is represented by a lawyer who has a telecom practice.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC handed over another $35,000 on behalf of Mondaire to Wavelength Strategy Inc for "digital production and Ad buy" raising that PAC's total contributions on behalf of Mondaire to $110,811. Mondaire also received today $6,923 from The Collective Super PAC , which describes itself as "building black political power." These funds are going to "76 Words" for "production" and "television advertisement."
Evelyn Farkas, however, is maintaining her edge in PAC money as one of Emily's List's favorite candidates. The Women Vote! PAC allocated $29,413 to Oak Strategies for "mailhouse" for Farkas, bringing that PAC's total contributions up to $274,741. But that's not all "for" Evelyn: that total includes $39,218 designated to oppose Adam Schleifer.
MORE ATTACKS ON ADAM
On the topic of Adam Schleifer, he can't be entirely displeased that the NYTimes story will distract whatever attention might go to an attack article today on Schleifer and his pharma connections in something called Real Sludge.
This weekend we'll dive in the latest FEC financial filings. 11 days to go!
NOTE: Tonight I received an update of an additional 2698 absentee ballots for Rockland which necessitated a rewrite of this post from earlier this evening. I rescind my previous conclusion and, instead, admit that David Carlucci's political demise might have been greatly exaggerated.
Turnout for the June 23rd Democratic Primary in NYCD17 is going to be huge.
As of today, June 11, the Westchester and Rockland Boards of Election have received 50,921 applications for absentee ballots from CD17 registered Democrats. Applications for absentee ballots will continue to be accepted through June 19 (although it's hard to imagine how ballots will be sent out and returned on time at such a late date) and of course a limited number of polling stations will be open for walk-up voters. It is very likely that this June 2020 primary turnout will surpass the 63,334 voters in NYCD17 in the September 2018 Democratic primary who came out to vote for governor, attorney general and state senate and assembly races.
We are seeing a small shift that gives increased weight to Westchester County compared to Rockland. In the 2018 Democratic primary, 24,526 Rockland residents voted for governor, compared to 38,818 in Westchester, for a Rockland/Westchester ratio of 39% (Rock): 61% (West). The absentee ballots returns for the June 2020 primary so far, however, show a ratio of 37% (Rock) : 63% (West).
The table shows the September 2018 NY governor's Democratic primary (Cuomo v. Nixon) total votes for each city and town in CD17 (Column B) and the % of the CD17 total for each city/town (Column C). The total of absentee ballot requests received by the Boards of Elections as of June 11, 2020, are listed in Column D. The percentage of each town/city's absentee ballots receive from the total of CD17 is listed in Column E to compare to Column C. Finally, column F shows the absentee applications received for each town/city as a % votes cast in the 2018 primary.
The interest in the congressional race appears to be stronger in Westchester where the absentee ballot request rate is 83% compared to 2018 turnout so far but only 76% in Rockland. There is great variation among city/towns so far in voter engagement in this race (at least as measured by absentee ballot applications). We see, for example, that New Castle (Chappaqua) and small North Castle (Armonk, North White Plains) are highly interested in this race, with absentee ballot applications already well exceeding 2018 primary voters. On the opposite end, Ramapo lags the furthest behind 2018 turnout, although some observers of Ramapo voting patterns speculate that may change on primary day.
NOTE: THIS POST WAS WRITTEN BEFORE I WAS AWARE OF THE JUNE FEC FILINGS WHICH CONFIRM THAT, AS OF JUNE 3, SCHLEIFER HAD SPENT MORE THAN $4 MILLION AND THE CANDIDATES, CUMULATIVELY, MORE THAN $7MILLION. SEE POST FROM JUNE 14.
Asha Castleberry-Hernandez is garnering some local press attention for joining Allison Fine in walking back the Pharma-stock divestment pledge/ploy aimed at isolating Adam Schleifer. The invaluable Barrett Seaman has the story, yet again. Social media posters imply that Evelyn Farkas organized the pledge, but I haven't seen that confirmed.
Adam Schleifer boasts about an endorsement the right-wing Orthodox Jewish weekly, The Jewish Press. This endorsement is intriguing not because it will change many votes but because it signals that, maybe, not all is well between David Carlucci and the Monsey Orthodox community that many assume to be a base of his support along with his New City neighbors and friends. If Schleifer is indeed attracting voters in Monsey (and that has yet to be verified), then Carlucci's political career may come to an end on June 23rd. Anybody from Monsey want to say why I'm wrong?
Speaking of Adam, in this all Schleifer edition of Campaign Notes, yesterday I speculated that the Schleifer campaign had spent at least $2 million on the race so far. Well, it looks like I underestimated.. by a lot. NYCD17.com received a breakdown of media broadcast and tv buys by the candidates which shows that since April 1, Adam has spent $2,270,093 on broadcast and cable TV advertising. FEC filings show that the Schleifer campaign spent $809,757 in the first quarter of 2020, bringing his confirmed campaign spending total up to $3,079,850, But this sum does not include the blizzard of mailings since April 1 or the salaries for his ever growing campaign staff. It seems reasonable to speculate that Adam has already crossed the $4,000,000 spending threshold.
According to this tv spending list, since April 1, the Farkas campaign has spent $492,540 on broadcast and cable, and Mondaire Jones has spent $360,454 on cable only. The Buchwald campaign has spent $158,102 on cable (all of which appears to be devoted to repeatedly interrupting my trying to watch the US Grant documentary on the History channel). Apparently Carlucci, Fine, and Castleberry-Hernandez can't afford tv time. In conclusion, when it comes to broadcast/cable time, Schleifer is more than doubling the rest of the candidates' spending combined.
Will the NYCD17 candidates spend $7,000,000 total on this primary? Maybe more?
Baseless prediction: this race is so tight that we won't have a declared winner for this primary until after July 4. Campaigns would be well advised to put aside money for election law lawyers.
Tomorrow: we start to get real in talking turnout.
Some prominent endorsements were announced for Mondaire Jones. We learned today that Mondaire is Bernie Sanders's preferred candidate in NYCD17. Jones had previously received Elizabeth Warren's endorsement - I'm not aware of any of the other major presidential candidates having weighed in.
Former NYCD17 candidate Catherine Jones (who doesn't actually live in CD17) also declared her endorsement for Mondaire Jones this morning, which was a bit surprising since Parker had already announced her support for Elliot Engel for congress in her NY16 district, defying the apparent synergy among supporters of Jones in NYCD17 and Jamaal Bowman in NYCD16. Anyone aware of other public figures endorsing both Engel and Jones?
Jones may have the high-profile endorsement, but Evelyn Farkas is receiving another big infusion of help from Emily's List's Women Vote! PAC. The national organization that supports "pro-choice Democratic women" allocated another $64,539 to the Farkas effort, bringing the total up to $210,202 in under two weeks. All of this money is going directly to Oak Strategies for "mailhouse." However, $44,930 of this latest tranche appears to be specifically allocated toward "opposing" .... (drumroll) Adam Schleifer! Tell me if I'm reading this incorrectly. So watch your mailboxes for anti-Adam mailings coming soon.
It seems very likely at this point that three candidates (Schleifer, Farkas and Jones) have spent more than $1,000,0000 each on this campaign. Schliefer will almost certainly exceed $2,000,000.
In other campaign news, Barrett Seaman at The Hudson Independent reports that Allison Fine walked back this morning her previous agreement to sign the pharma-stock divestment petition that was discussed here a few days ago. Lots of fun on social media immediately ensued between Jones and Schleifer staffers/volunteers (are there any Schleifer "volunteers"?). Seaman offers more of his astute observations about the current state of the campaign here.
Gripe of the day: among the deluge of campaign mailings, these unidentified envelopes prove particularly annoying:
What exactly are candidates gaining in support by sending out these envelopes which appear to be ballot related, but actually enclose a typical campaign letter? I've received the identical envelope from the Buchwald and Mimi Roach campaigns. Does anyone have a positive reaction from being deceived into opening one of these?
While the candidates were busy this weekend speaking at a number of BLM rallies, several new campaign related stories appeared.
Barrett Seaman of the Hudson Independent has an update about the campaign reported with his usual insight that focuses on the petition signed by six candidates pledging to divest pharmaceutical stock holdings to isolate Adam Schleifer. Apparently, only Evelyn Farkas among the signers has pharma stocks to divest. Barrett reports that no one would admit to drafting the petition.
The New York Post casts its conservative skepticism at progressives in New York primary races and takes some digs at Mondaire Jones, who is suddenly a focus of political attacks after being treated gently by his rivals for many months. Obviously the other candidates and opponents of his progressive causes are taking Mondaire's chances very seriously now.
Asha Castleberry-Hernandez, in particular, was annoyed with both the Post and Mondaire in a tweet earlier today:
Yep, it's getting late in the campaign!
PACS FLEXING & OUTSIDE HELP
Mondaire won't be too bothered by the Post and Asha as he can find solace in the news that he is the beneficiary of a $50,000 donation from the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC. Politico has a story about the PAC and Mondaire. The $50K is going to Wavelength Strategy Inc. for "digital production & ad buy" for the Jones campaign.
But Mondaire isn't even the biggest recent beneficiary of a DC political PAC. Since May 29, Emily's List's Women Vote! PAC has allocated $145,662 in three equal payments to help Evelyn Farkas. Two payments of $48,554 are going to Oak Strategies on K Street in DC (someone tell me if Oak Strategies is not the same as Live Oak Strategies) and one payment to Wildfire Contact in Massachusetts, all for "mailhouse."
But Evelyn is also getting an assist from a Democratic Party foreign policy think tank in DC, called Foreign Policy for America which is phone banking for her campaign on June 9.