(Host) As Vermont’s 3 major party gubernatorial candidates prepare for the general election, their new finance reports show that they enter the 9 weeks before the election with very different financial bases.
It’s a situation that could dictate the kind of strategies the candidates will use during their campaigns.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.
(Kinzel) Political observers generally believe it takes at least 500 thousand dollars to run an effective campaign against an incumbent governor.
Using that yardstick, Democratic candidate Gaye Symington and Independent Anthony Pollina have a lot of catching up to do in their effort to unseat Republican Jim Douglas.
According to the latest financial reports, Douglas has now raised over $ 800,000 for his campaign – that’s more than three times the amount of money raised by Democratic challenger Gaye Symington who didn’t formally enter the race until May.
Pollina has raised the least amount of money – just ten thousand dollars in the last reporting period for a total of roughly 176 thousand dollars. He has $10,000 in cash on hand but he’s also got $27,000 in disputed campaign contributions.
Pollina maintains that his campaign is doing well because he says his strategy is to organize at the grassroots level. He insists that his campaign is still viable:
(Pollina) "We never intended to be the campaign that would raise the most money or have the slickest TV ads. What we’ve intended to do is work at the grassroots level and make this a campaign of ideas. If people want to vote for the person with the slickest TV ads, then they’ll probably vote for somebody else."
(Kinzel) Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis thinks the new reports reveal some important information about the candidates.
He says Gaye Symington faces some major challenges:
(Davis) "Because in order to close the gap with the governor she needs to start advertising soon and getting her message out through the paid media. But with the governor having a 3 to 1 advantage in terms of dollars raised, she doesn’t want to spend too much too soon for fear that she’ll run out of money in the last month of the campaign when it’s most important to do your advertising."
(Kinzel) Davis says Anthony Pollina’s finance report highlights some very difficult problems for the Pollina campaign:
(Davis) "What he doesn’t want to have happen is a situation in which voters feel that there’s no chance at all of him coming close to the governor. So that voters who want someone other than Jim Douglas as governor will then move away from Anthony Pollina into Gaye Symington’s column."
(Kinzel) Davis thinks Jim Douglas enjoys the benefit of being the incumbent but:
(Davis) "He has to be concerned that we know that there’s going to be a strong Democratic surge in Vermont this fall, that the Obama campaign will be working very hard to increase turnout in the state. Jim Douglas needs to be prepared to withstand that Obama onslaught. So that’s one of the reasons he’s been raising so much money in recent months."
(Kinzel) Pollina says he hopes to resolve issues surrounding his disputed campaign contributions by the end of the week.
For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.