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On Frugality and Campaigns

May 24, 2010

Do you wonder why political campaigns cost so much money? I did and I saw some contrasts this weekend at the GOP State Assembly.

The clearest contrast, I think, was between the McInnis and Maes campaigns. On signs and stickers it was probably a tie since all the campaigns try to put up as many signs as they can, where ever they can. And everyone who can afford the really big signs reuses them. But only the Maes campaign was taking the blue painter’s tape off the smaller signs so they could be reused.

Each of the campaigns could put an insert in the delegate bags. Dan’s was one 8 1/2 x 11 double-sided color glossy sheet. Scott’s was three different sheets of different sizes hand-assembled with paper clips.

Then there were the t-shirts. McInnis’ green t-shirts were everywhere. his campaign workers, like those of many campaigns, wore them. But one delegate told me that a t-shirt had been thrust into his hand; a lot were being given away. The Maes campaign, on the other hand, asked for a $10 donation for t-shirts; if a person seemed as though they couldn’t afford that, they were simply given it. I like that.

Dan grew up poor and he’s still frugal (or as he prefers, “tight”) with his money. If you donate even a few bucks to his campaign, you know it will be well spent.

Who would you like to have handling your tax money?

  1. May 24, 2010 12:21 pm

    Al, your loyal support of Dan prompted me to look at him further, as I figured if a bright guy like yourself was a big supporter, he must have a lot going for him. So I spent a lot of time reading his website the other night. I was impressed.

    And on the frugality front, I agree. We have a bright young crop of house candidates who are just working hard, knocking literally on every door in their districts. These are people who’ve never run for office at all and all of my “pets” are private sector people like Dan.

    I think that has to be our default position this election year. We need people who understand budgets where the revenue side is hard earned, not government budgets where the revenue side is handed to them by their buddies after collecting it from the taxpayers.

    Our colleague Don Johnson also struck a note that stayed with me when he mentioned McInnis’ continual aloofness from media questioning. I worked on a transparency project where I’ve been obtaining the budgets of all 22 DAs offices (lots of fun!). I formed good opinions about Ken Buck and Dem Stan Garnett, to pick two examples because of their customer-service oriented transparency. And it’s not about us, media types, it’s about the public’s right to get this information. If the attitiude is one of arrogance, of making people jump through hoops to get the material, then that’s revealing of a sort of monarchical attitude that you just know likely permeates everything.

    Looking forward to your Wednesday piece. I wish you’d gotten a photo of the Joe G. sign holders you described.

  2. May 24, 2010 12:50 pm

    No surprise that I’m in total agreement with your comments. I also support two political newbies for senate and house seats–Owen Hill and Karen Cullen–and you can see their links on my candidates page.

    We need fresh perspectives. We have a bunch of lawyers in office who think if it’s not illegal it must be OK. The taxpayers and citizens are asking more. We need people from all walks of life to take a couple of years out of their career path and donate it to public service. Even homemakers: they handle the majority of family budgets and if it makes sense to them, then it is most likely the right thing to do.

    To mangle Shakespeare: First thing we do, we kick out all the lawyers.

  3. Ament supporter permalink
    May 24, 2010 1:17 pm

    I would argue that the biggest contrast in campaign spending was between Ali Hasan and JJ Ament. Ali spent $2-300k of his own money going in to the primary, most of it in the closing days.

    In addition to all the mail & tv he did, he had a huge bash in his hotel suite on Friday night. He even donated 5 figures to ATR to have Grover Norquist sit in his suite that night! He was giving out expensive fleece vests to delegates for heaven’s sake!

    On Saturday, Hasan rented 4 suites at the arena itself – literally buying a big swath of wall space to put his signs up exclusively.

    On the other hand, Ament had trail mix and tea in his Friday night suite and had to do with 1 suite on Saturday. And ultimately, he won anyway, 80-20, thus being the top vote getter at the state assembly!

    • May 24, 2010 8:48 pm

      Wow. I had no idea how much money was being spent. I have to admire Ali for having the courage of his convictions and for putting his money where his mouth is. In the end, I think people bought the argument that the state treasurer ought to have an economics background.

      Thanks for that info!

  4. May 24, 2010 2:19 pm

    Great minds think alike. Owen is also one of my “pets.” And of course Tim Leonard. I’ll check out Karen Cullen as well.

    There’s also a flip-side to the lawyer point you made. Dems and even authoritarian type GOP lawyers, believe if something’s “not ok” it should be illegal. Failed war on drugs is one example. The entire nanny state agenda is another. Bullying is bad, therefore we need cyberbullying and harassment laws that, as applied, infringe on the First Amendment.

    I jumped in over at PPC, by the way, to support the free market analysis on Rand Paul, and to rip into that Griffin character.

  5. Pam Wiesner permalink
    May 24, 2010 4:23 pm

    Who would you like to have handling your tax money?
    I’m not sure I could trust Dan to handling my money. A lawsuit was filed against Dan and his campaign on May 5th citing campaign finance irregularities. He misreported his mileage reimbursemtns. He was estimating his mileage with no paper trail. Will he estimate Colorado expense? So much for transparency.

  6. May 24, 2010 9:04 pm


    I’m afraid you’re a little late on that bit of FUD.

    A group from Grand Junction (I’m sure it is a coincidence that GJ is Scott McInnis’ home town) filed a lawsuit. So what? Anyone can file a lawsuit. You seem to have jumped to the conclusion that he is guilty. Shall we wait to hear what the court has to say?

    Please explain why you claim that he isn’t being transparent. He filed the required campaign finance statement and transparently included the mileage details you have a problem with. The IRS allows alternate means of calculating mileage: does that apply to campaign finance, too? I don’t know. Do you?

    I know we’re in the wild west but let’s put away the hanging rope until we have all the facts.

  7. Alex permalink
    May 24, 2010 10:03 pm

    I was a volunteer on the McInnis Campaign and we took the tape off all our signs and sent them back to the campaign office to be reused. I know I personally did it. Also we pulled all our campaign literature from the unused delegate bags to be taken back to the office and used as well. Maybe you should get all the facts before you hang someone as being wasteful as well.

    • May 24, 2010 10:28 pm

      I only reported what I saw and heard firsthand–and I did note that someone from the McInnis campaign was saving a huge sign for re-use. Thanks for adding your firsthand experiences.

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