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Republican Party Struggles With Fundraising In A Blue State

by | Dec 3, 2013 1:10pm () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Congress, Election 2014, Election Policy, Ethics, State Capitol

Christine Stuart file photo While the Democratic Party in the state of Connecticut has been aggressively raising money from individuals, PACs, and state contractors, the Republican Party seems to be struggling, according to its most recent fundraising report.

The Connecticut Republican Party raised about $579,000 from Jan. 1 thru Oct. 30. That’s less than half of what the Connecticut Democratic Party raised during the same period.

The Democratic Party raised about $1.2 million this year through the end of October, according to its November filing with the Federal Election Commission. The most recent fundraising numbers for its state account won’t be available for either party until Jan. 10.

“We need to be more actively engaged to combat what Gov. [Dannel] Malloy is doing,” Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney said Monday. McKinney is running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination and acknowledges that parties will have a much bigger role in the 2014 campaign than they have in the past.

McKinney alleges that the Democrat-controlled General Assembly changed the campaign fundraising rules in order to benefit Malloy’s 2014 campaign, even though Malloy has not announced that he is running for re-election.

“If you look at all the state contractors and people who do business with the state who have been hit up by the governor for fundraising, it’s embarrassing,” McKinney said.

He said he’s hearing from people who do business with the state and they’re being told exactly how much the party wants them to give and where to direct the money. However, none of those allegedly being pressured to give money have come forward.

“We need one of those to come out publicly and say it, but we know it’s happening,” McKinney said. “I’m not going to sit here and tell you he’s the first governor to do it, but putting pressure on state contractors to deliver for the governor and the party is wrong and we need to talk about it.”

CTNJ file photo As far as the Republican Party is concerned, “we need to do a better job of raising money as a party,” McKinney said.

At the end of October the Republican Party only had about $15,350 cash on hand in its federal account, which is largely responsible for funding its operations.

Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. has stopped taking a salary.

Zak Sanders, a spokesman for the Republican Party, said it’s not uncommon at this time of the year for party coffers to run low. He said Labriola, who is paid $52,000 a year to run the party, won’t be taking a salary until there’s more money in the bank and more Republicans in elected office.

Sanders said Labriola would rather spend the money on electing candidates. He dismissed the notion that Labriola decided not to take a salary because he felt bad he was unable to raise enough money for the party.

McKinney said Labriola did the right thing by giving up his salary during what seem to be lean times.

“We have an aggressive fundraising strategy going forward to 2014,” Sanders said.

He declined to offer any specifics regarding strategy, but there’s little doubt in anyone’s mind that the changes the General Assembly made this year to the campaign financing rules boosted the role of parties.

Earlier this year, the Democrat-controlled General Assembly with Malloy’s support insisted that the party had to play a more important role in the electoral process and decided to allow it to donate unlimited amounts of money to clean election candidates. Malloy was the first governor elected under the public finance system, but the system he ran under in 2010 would not have allowed candidates in 2014 to receive additional funding. Under the previous system a gubernatorial candidate could not receive more than $1.25 million for the primary and $6 million for the general election through the Citizens’ Election Program.

Now the party can spend an unlimited amount of money on any candidate participating in the Citizens’ Election Program to augment the campaign’s funding.

Up until the new law was passed, individuals were only able to give up to $5,000 to the state party, but now they can give up to $10,000. Also, state contractors are allowed to give $10,000 to the federal committee even though the same contribution is banned at the state level.

According to the past two months of federal reports, the only individual to cut the Republican Party a $10,000 check was Vince McMahon of World Wrestling Entertainment.

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(11) Archived Comments

posted by: DirtyJobsGUy | December 3, 2013  2:22pm

I get fundraising calls from the State GOP all the time and tell them they have to act like small government guys to get my donations.  Both McKinney and Labriola run from challenges like true CT moderates.

posted by: Chien DeBerger | December 3, 2013  3:08pm

What do you expect? When you offer hardly any differences in the values of the ruling party. Why should people waste their money hoping for something good?

posted by: Joebigjoe | December 3, 2013  5:06pm

Was just listening to Rowland and he had a guy on from the Rutherford Institute talking about the next ten years and the police state that America is coming. Check out the web site but most of all if Republicans wanted to get my money and most of my votes they best be on the right side of that issue. As the guy said, the pushback has to start locally and to me that means locals pols and governors need to stand up and be heard.

posted by: Mopar | December 3, 2013  8:29pm


McKinney is part of the reason the CTGOP isn’t getting any money. We’re tired of seeing our hard-earned cash go to fund people like McKinney who sides with Malloy and the Democrats more often then not, while ignoring real Republican candidates. If we wanted Democrats we would just donate directly to them.
Besides, after McKinney and Cafero sold us down the river on our gun rights, many of us have become single issue voters. My money will be going directly to pro-gun candidates, regardless of party.

posted by: Lawrence | December 3, 2013  8:35pm

All thanks to Supreme Court Justice Kennedy (“Citizens United”) and Republican Greenwich billionaire Thomas Petterfy.

posted by: art vandelay | December 3, 2013  8:51pm

art vandelay

As a life long conservative (yes I hate to admit it Republican), I’m sick of Mckinney, Cafero, and especially the State Central Committee.  The state is in serious financial trouble after decades of liberal progressive Democrat control. Yes the Reps have had the Governor’s seat for 16 years, but I blame the Democrat majority legislatures for putting this state in the mess that it’s in.  Yes the appeasing Republican Governors & RINO’s are to blame too.
Unless this state elects a veto proof majority fiscally CONSERVATIVE, House, Senate & Governor, we’ll NEVER turn this state around.  My fear is that within 5-10 years, Connecticut will be in the same mess Detroit is in now.  The group of Republicans we have now will never lead the way.

posted by: Commuter | December 3, 2013  10:50pm

McKinney’s Achilles heel is his own poor judgement. He apparently thought that by declaring himself a candidate outright he would reduce the field of GOP contenders.

That didn’t work, so now he’s faced with a potentially expensive primary against at least two strong opponents (one of whom can spend whatever he likes in pursuit of the nomination) and a very long road to the primary.

Meanwhile, the Republican donor base appears to be keeping its powder dry or, worse, just isn’t that into McKinney as the antidote to Malloy. Well, that’s what you get for being all kissy-face with the teachers’ unions.

But to get to the essence of the question on conservative minds about McKinney, is campaign finance reform something he truly believes in, or is it just another pot of money the old boy never had to work for?

Neither alternative is very attractive to the Republican base.

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | December 4, 2013  5:02pm

Seems simple, no?

No platform + no candidates = no contributions.


posted by: JusticePartyCT | December 4, 2013  10:12pm

Some good comments in this thread! Glad to see many people still care. I’m not sure which case warrants the larger sigh. GOP not attracting voters for either losing touch with voters and/or not having a clear platform or Dems making double the amount thanks to PACs and state contractors? Either way, there are more unaffiliated voters in the state; rejecting both parties and that number will continue to climb. It will be interesting to see what happens should GOP support slip below 20% and they get placed into ‘minor party’ status. Fear not, the Dems will re-write the rules to assist their duopoly friends in Hartford, after all, why give money to a major party if the scary other party ceases to be a threat? A good read on why both parties need each other is, ‘The Party is Over’, written by a former GOP congressional staffer. Perhaps this is why in 2012, the following occurred at UCONN: Several students spoke on the issues based on the stance of the presidential candidates. After the speeches, the students were asked to vote. The catch? During the speeches, the students did not know the party and candidate. The surprising result? Justice Party 57.6%, GOP 15.4%, Green Party 11.5%, Libertarian 7.7%, Democrat 7.7% & Constitution 0%. Imagine the strives our democracy could make if we put aside party affiliation, left vs right and so on. Imagine if parties didn’t disappear every four years and pop up only when they needed funding? Imagine a party that was transparent and not run by party bosses, but engaged with voters 365. You just imagined the Justice Party. Competing in 38 states after only forming in 2011. If you are interesting in fighting corruption that is leading the country to a race to the bottom and alarm at the ability for the next generation to achieve the American Dream, come and join us. (Chairperson, Justice Party of CT, http://www.justicepartyct.org, @JusticePartyCT)

posted by: art vandelay | December 5, 2013  12:33am

art vandelay

For the good of the State of Connecticut and the Republican Party, McKinney needs to withdraw. He’s got too much political baggage compromising and appeasing Democrats. He’s nothing but a moderate RINO who’s time has passed.

posted by: dano860 | December 5, 2013  10:18am

@ justicepartyct,
After looking at the site I am still wondering who you are?
Do you support the whole Constitution or just parts of it. It appears that you are liberals, there is no mention of the 2nd amendment or your stance with regards to it. The words are well fabricated and the use of the first sentence of the Constitution draws in the heart but all of the grandiose, floral social positions are those of the tax and spend liberals.
I’ll pass and stick with the sad but proven two party system we have.
No Thanks

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