From the very beginning, Marjorie Margolies’ political comeback has been what most political pundits and writers have referred to as “non-traditional”. In fact, most would not have predicted a political comeback from the congressional veteran at all, but Margolies has completely defied those odds, becoming the perceived frontrunner in the race for her old seat in Washington. This perception is cursory and journalistically reckless, at best.
Early on, skeptics of the Margolies campaign pointed to her avoidance of public appearances and her lackluster and honestly weird debate performance at the one debate she agreed to attend. They also talked about her twenty year gap from public office, her husband’s fraud charges and their bankruptcy, or even some scandalous business practices she committed as the chair of Women’s Campaign International, an organization that advocates for women all over the world who wish to run for public office. These all would be fair details for skeptics to emphasize, but one should really examine the way Margolies’ campaign has been managed, especially from standpoint of finance.
Marjorie Margolies’ campaign is not gaining the fundraising momentum most would have expected, given her previous occupancy of the 13th congressional seat, and no one is more acutely aware than her staff. After failed attempts to understand what the campaign finance numbers meant for my analysis of each candidate in the 13th congressional race moving forward, I decided to be proactive and email Margolies’ campaign personally. When I asked a few basic questions about their fundraising, they weren’t amused. Here are the questions I asked in the email:
(1) What was your primary-eligible cash on hand as of March 30th?
(2) Did you classify any of your expenditures to-date as being for the general?
(3) How much did it cost to plan and execute the Clinton event?
(4) When did you pay for the Clinton event (food, beverages, facilities, staff, etc.)?
(5) It looks like Joe Trippi, DA Jones, and Linda August were not paid during the month of March. Have they been let go, or did they choose to defer their payments?
“We do not find Keystone Politics to be a credible news organization nor this reporter to be a credible journalist on this topic as she has actively solicited campaign contributions for another candidate in the 13th congressional race. Our campaign finance report speaks for itself,” said Ken Smukler, Margolies campaign spokesman.
I happen to agree that their finance reports speak volumes, but we’ll leave that aside for a moment.
Fair enough, Ken. A simple google search or a glimpse of my Linkedin account would indicate to anyone that I once interned for Senator Daylin Leach, one of the other candidates in the race – but a voluntary internship ten months ago cannot skew math.
Margolies declared her candidacy on May 30, 2013. During the first 32 days leading up to the 2013 Quarter 2 campaign finance report, the campaign raised $185,345 and spent $25,378, leaving a respectable $159,966.27 cash on hand. They spent an average $793.06 per day, if you do the math.
Then after that, things got a little crazy. In Quarter 3, Margolies raised $237,370, spent $207,279, leaving $190,056 cash on hand. that isn’t a huge increase in their bank for later in the campaign, which is what most experienced politicos would advise for a contentions primary like this, especially with such an expensive media market. What is more disconcerting is their average spendings during that quarter: $2,253.03 a day.
In Quarter 4, leading up to the end of the year, the campaign actually spent more money than what was coming in. $211,039 was raised, $227,228, leaving just $173,866 on hand, mere months before the May primary, with three other highly qualified candidates. Their average daily spending rose ever higher: $2,469.86 per day.
This most recent campaign finance filing, the 2014 Quarter 1 finance report, indicates that the Margolies campaign raised $211,178, spent more funds than came in again, $225,255, leaving them with $159,789 cash on hand. Of these funds, a fairly large percentage is locked down until after the primary election, in accordance with Federal Election Commission regulations. They spent an whopping average of $2,502.83 per day during this past quarter, a continued escalation of spending when the other three campaigns have been existing scarcely to gear up for GOTV.
Using the data from this past campaign finance filing, which is all that is publicly available, Margolies has the least amount of financial resources of any candidate in the race. A fundraiser with President Clinton was held about a week after this deadline, but with the fundraising lead that Daylin Leach, Val Arkoosh, and Brendan Boyle have over her, she would have had to raise over $400k from her Clinton fundraiser to have the same level of resources as Senator Leach, the current fundraising leader.
How many voters have the Margolies campaign staff actually made contact with, and how many supporters have they identified? Surely Margolies isn’t out every day canvassing herself. I hope with all this crazy spending, they’re talking to a lot of people, or their dozens of double-max donors are not going to be happy.