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Did the race for Lt. Governor end before it began?

By Larry Lee
Education Matters

Candidates for election in 2018 have now turned in their first monthly financial report to the Secretary of State.  This covers the month of June.

These include the three announced Republican candidates for Lt. Governor–Will Ainsworth, Mary Scott Hunter and Rusty Glover.  The differences in the reports are astounding and do not bode well for either Hunter of Glover.

At the start of the reporting period, Hunter had a beginning balance of $50,000.  However, she only raised $6,720 while spending $7,076 and ended up with less in the bank than she had a month earlier.  Glover’s numbers tell about the same story.  He started with $60,911, raised $13,801 and spent $19,199 to leave a balance of $55,513.

On the other hand, Ainsworth raised money hand over fist.  He began with $50,000, raised $355,110, spent $10,248 and ended with $394,861.  This means he has eight times as much on hand as Hunter and seven times as much as Glover.

Both Hunter and Glover had only three contributions of $1,000 or more.  By comparison, Ainsworth had 81 in the same category and had 38 who contributed $5,000 or more.

This is about like looking at the scoreboard at the end of the first quarter and seeing the score is 35 to 0.  This doesn’t mean the other team can’t catch up.  But it ain’t very likely.

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Ainsworth is ending his first term in the House of Representatives while Glover is in his third term as a state senator from Mobile.  Hunter was elected to the state board of education in 2010.

While I have seen no polling numbers as to name recognition for any of the three, it’s likely that all are very, very low.  Which means the ability to raise campaign funding is CRITICAL.  If you don’t have name recognition, you have to buy it.  And at this point, neither Hunter or Glover are competitive with Ainsworth in the ability to do so.

I have been through more political battles than I care to recall.  And have the scars to prove it.  Along the way I was involved in raising more than $1 million in contributions.  It is said that “money is the mother’s milk of politics.”  I agree.

It is nearly impossible to raise substantial funds when the perception is that you are behind 35-0 at the end of the first quarter.  Checks that should have been for $1,000 become ones for $100 instead.  And anyone who thinks they can compete equally with an opponent with substantially more money is delusional.

Right now the general public is paying no attention whatsoever to a June 2018 primary.  But some media will and certainly some of the key Montgomery political operatives are.

A cardinal rule of politics is that “big money invests, little money gives.”  Which means that even though your brother-in-law doesn’t think you have a snowball’s chance  of winning, he will still give you $100.  But that is not how someone who directs a large political action committee thinks.  They want return on investment.  They would rather keep their money in the bank than spend it on a losing candidate.

Two of the major PACs in Alabama are FARM PAC (Alabama Farmers Federation) and PROGRESS PAC (Business Council of Alabama).  They also file financial reports.  At this point in this election cycle they are raising money and studying candidates carefully.

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At the end of June FARM PAC had $1.6 million in their bank account.  They made no contributions to candidates.  PROGRESS PAC had $1.8 million on hand and also did not contribute to any candidates.  They paid McLaughlin & Associates, one of the country’s top political research and polling firms, $29,000 in June.

Of course it is about 11 months to the primary for Lt. Governor and much can change.  But if this fund-raising trend continues like this for a couple of more months. the fat lady will be getting ready to sing and Ainsworth will be deciding how to decorate the Lt. Governor’s office.


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