Some Candidates Are Still Working Toward Fundraising Threshold
HARTFORD, CT — (Updated 3 p.m.) With the party conventions about a month away, some of the 27 gubernatorial candidates in the field have reached the threshold to qualify for public financing, while and others are working hard to get there.
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A number of candidates’ total donations are over the $250,000 threshold, but it’s not clear how many of those contributions will qualify under State Elections Enforcement Commission guidelines. However, two Republican candidates believe they have collected enough and are filing for pre-application reviews with the SEEC.
The first fundraising quarter of 2018 just ended and will be the most important quarter to date, because candidates’ filings will set the stage for the upcoming party conventions. The first quarter filings will give delegates an idea of who will realistically qualify for public financing and be able to compete.
On the Democratic side, none of the candidates who are participating in the public finance system have yet reached the threshold of $250,000 in qualifying funds.
Jonathan Harris and Susan Bysiewicz may be close. In the first three months of 2018, Bysiewicz, the former Secretary of the State, raised over $142,000, bringing her campaign total to nearly $290,000. Not all of the money will qualify toward the $250,000 goal because some of the donations were made in the exploratory phase and were over $100.
Sean Connolly hasn’t cracked the $100,000 mark and has spent most of his campaign’s warchest — he only had about $25,000 cash-on-hand at the end of the reporting period. Harris has about $60,000 cash-on-hand, but has raised about $320,000 since the start of his campaign.
Neither Harris, Bysiewicz or Connolly has officially reached the $250,000 threshold and none are officially “qualified” until the party endorses them and the State Elections Enforcement Commission certifies their contributions following an audit.
Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim has raised nearly $525,000 and has more than $335,000 cash-on-hand. Ganim is not allowed to participate in the public financing system because of his felony conviction.
Ganim raised about $325,000 for the first quarter of 2018 — an average of about $104,000 per month — in addition to raising $200,537 in his exploratory committee for governor. He also loaned his campaign $35,000.
“Our fundraising has clearly surpassed expectations and shows the strong support our campaign is generating from Democrats who want a candidate who will build a new Connecticut economy that works for everyone
— not just the few,” Ganim said.
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, who is still in the exploratory phase of the campaign, is expected to report raising $115,000 in the quarter bringing his total up to $228,000. Like Bysiewicz, not all of that money will count toward the $250,000 goal if he decides to officially declare his candidacy. Bronin’s report has yet to be uploaded to the SEEC website.
Ned Lamont, who is not participating in the public financing system, reported raising $60,000 from over 1,000 donors since entering the race on Jan. 17. He’s backed his campaign with $210,000 of his own money and had $55,780 cash-on-hand at the end of the reporting period.
Guy Smith, who is also not participating in the public financing system and plans to skip the party’s nominating convention, reported raising $102,606 from individuals and loaned his campaign $200,000. He had $154,816 cash-on-hand at the end of the reporting period.
On the Republican side, New Britain Republican Mayor Erin E. Stewart has raised $105,639 in qualifying contributions over the past two months since she first began exploring a run on January 29.
Stewart said: “The average we are generating per day ($1,703) is better than any of our competitors in their best quarter. Some of them have been running for over a year, or running as a full-time job. It’s time for them to realize we are serious, we are a top contender, and we are running to win.”
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All of the $105,639 raised by Stewart’s campaign counts as a qualifying contribution toward the $250,000 threshold, according to her campaign.
Meanwhile, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton’s campaign and Mike Handler’s campaign say they have each raised at least $250,000 in qualifying contributions and as such have filed for a pre-application review with the State Elections Enforcement Commission.
According to reports filed with the SEEC, David Walker, Steve Obsitnik, Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, former Trumbull Mayor Tim Herbst, Rep. Prasad Srinivasan, and Peter Lumaj have all also reached the fundraising threshold of $250,000 but it’s not clear whether those dollars will all qualify.
David Stemerman and Bob Stefanowski are two Republican candidates who have decided to forgo public financing. Stemerman, who loaned his campaign $1.8 million last year, plans to go to the Republican nominating convention and Stefanowski will skip the convention and try to collect more than 9,700 signatures to get on the August primary ballot. Stefanowski, according to his report raised over $110,000 this quarter from individuals. The total amount of individual contributions, according to SEEC records is around $258,000. Stefanowski also loaned his campaign $150,000 this quarter and $500,000 was from the last quarter of 2017. His campaign press release wrongly stated that “his campaign has raised over $750,000 through March 31, 2018 from almost 800 individual donors.”
Stemerman, the former hedge fund founder, raised about $7,000 in contributions from individuals in the latest fundraising quarter. He had about $897,000 cash-on-hand at the end of the reporting period.
Oz Griebel, the former head of the MetroHartford Alliance who is running outside the two party system and trying to petition his way onto the ballot, raised $69,200. Griebel said Monday that he’s collected about 4,300 signatures and is filling out his campaign staff. His latest hire was Chris Cooper, a press secretary in both former Gov. John Rowland and M. Jodi Rell’s administrations.
Griebel reported having about $20,000 cash-on-hand.
Editor’s note: This article initially stated that Jonathan Harris and Sean Connolly had qualified for public financing, but as of this writing they’re not there yet and the article has been corrected to reflect that.