Sunday, December 07, 2008

Best and worst bargains - 2008 elections

Edit on 12/8 to update County numbers, below...

Post-General Election campaign finance reports are in, and normally this would be the time to do a really geeky and dry post listing figures for contributions, expenditures, cash on hand, etc. However, since the election results are in, I'm going to do something a little different.

Still geeky and dry, but different. :))

Today's post will list the best bargains (based on lowest expenditures per vote for election victors) and the worst bargains (based on highest expenditures per vote for election losers.)

The expenditure figures taken from the cycle-to-date boxes of the campaigns' post-general reports; vote totals taken from the appropriate reporting authority, either the AZ Secretary of State or the Maricopa County Recorder.

Best Bargain - AZ Congressional races

Republican Trent Franks was easily the leader here, spending $400,019.59 to receive 200,914 votes, or $1.99/vote. Republican Jeff Flake was the second most frugal victor, spending $3.76/vote. By contrast, the victor who spent the *most* per vote was another Republican, John Shadegg. Shadegg spent $17.85/vote ($2,656,692.67 spent, 200914 votes received).

Worst Bargain - AZ Congressional races

Democrat Bob Lord, Shadegg's opponent in CD3, "won" this dubious distinction, spending $1,745,210.41 to receive 115,759 votes, for a $17.85/vote pace. The only losing candidate who spent at a pace that was even close to Lord's was Republican Tim Bee. Bee spent 13.25/vote in his failed campaign to unseat Gabrielle Giffords in CD8.

Giffords and Harry Mitchell (D-CD5) each spent more than $15/vote, but since they won their races (rather handily at that), the money spent was a good deal.

Note: Challengers Don Karg (R-CD4), Rebecca Schneider (D-CD6), and Joe Sweeney (R-CD7 [I think]) haven't filed post-general reports that I could find, but I doubt that any of them spent enough money to challenge Lord for the 'Worst Bargain' status.

The comparison of county campaigns was more difficult, because both major candidates for county attorney, Andrew Thomas and Tim Nelson, as well as supervisor candidates Fulton Brock, Joel Sinclaire, and Max Wilson haven't filed post-general reports yet. (Note: with Joel Sinclaire's passing, his committee has been suspended/terminated. I'm not sure if/when a final campaign finance report will be filed.)

Brock, Thomas, Nelson, and Wilson all have reports up on the County Recorder's website, and according to the time/date stamps on the forms, all reports were submitted on time.

However, I don't want it to be said that I'm not able to form conclusions based on incomplete information. :)))

Best Bargain - Maricopa County races

Right now, Don Stapley is the clear winner in this category, but that could change once his legal expenses are added in. At this point, however, the Republican incumbent spent $9933.45 to receive 164,381 votes, or $0.29/vote to retain his seat in SD2.

Note: Stapley was a little creative in filling out his report, neglecting to fill out the "cycle-to-date" column. The expenditure number listed in this post is a total of the "cycle-to-date" number from his pre-general report and the "current period" number from his post-general report.

Worst Bargain - Maricopa County races

Ed Hermes, the Democratic candidate in Supervisor District 1, "led" this category, spending $112,026.14 to garner 119,971 votes, for a $0.93/vote pace. While for the purposes of this post, this campaign qualifies as the "worst" bargain among the county races, I expect Ed to take the lessons of this cycle and apply them to another campaign, one that he may very well win.

Tim Nelson challenged for this one, spending over $438K in his unsuccessful campaign for County Attorney. However, while he spent nearly 4 times as much as Hermes, his countywide race garnered him more than 4 times the votes, dropping his dollars per vote number to $0.80.

One item of interest from Fulton Brock's post-general report were contributions from a couple in Oro Valley, which is in Pima County. The twosome share a name with some of the people involved in the Stapley indictment. On October 16, 2008, Jason and Kris Wolfswinkel each gave $390 (the maximum allowed individual contribution) to Brock's campaign.

Stapley's failure to report his involvement with some Wolfswinkel family businesses is at the heart of his legal travails.

Wouldn't it be sweet if Brock's name was added to the list of indicted Republicans? Yeah, I know it probably won't happen, but one has to wonder why some Pima County residents care enough about a Maricopa County supervisor's race to fork over the max contribution to his campaign.

Both of these could change once all reports are in, plus the numbers don't include the "independent" expenditures that benefitted Joe Arpaio and Andrew Thomas. However, they both won their races, no matter how unethically, so they don't qualify for "worst bargain" under the guidelines of this post.

I was going to do one of the comparisons for some of the ballot initiatives, but there were a couple of hurdles there - too many of the committees haven't filed reports, and in many cases, there are multiple committees in support/opposition of a given prop.

Comparison purposes -

To put some of these numbers in perspective, in 2004, then-Congressman JD Hayworth spent $7.58/vote to retain his seat. However, that was nearly 180 times the rate of his opponent, Elizabeth Rogers. She spent roughly $0.04 per vote.

Compare this to 2006, when both spent more per vote in their races. Hayworth spent $31.12/vote to lose to Harry Mitchell in CD5; Rogers spent $0.06/vote to win the Kyrene Justice of the Peace race.

OK, that's not really relevant to the rest of the post, but it should give pause to those who would support a speculated-upon Hayworth gubernortorial candidacy. It should also give hope to candidates like Rebecca Schneider and Marilyn Fox, who ran strong campaigns on limited budgets.

There is life after losing an election.

Let's see what happens in two years before considering them and others like them, to be electoral afterthoughts.

Other campaign and campaign finance news -

...According to the Secretary of State's website, the first official candidate committee for 2010 has been formed by Michelle Reagan, Republican State Representative from north Scottsdale. It's an exploratory committee and doesn't list the office that she is "exploring." My guess is State Senate, though Corporation Commission or State Treasurer are possibilities.

...Jim McAllister, an Plugged In blogger, notes that victorious candidates Jim Lane (Scottsdale Mayor) and Lisa Borowsky (Scottsdale City Council) already have their hands out to developers, seeking contributions to retire their campaign debts.

Apparently, they don't read the news reports about indicted and convicted public officials.

...The AZ Republic has a story that current Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne will be forming a committee to explore a run for State Attorney General in 2010.

Ummm....yeah. Horne has spent most of two terms making the public education system in AZ one of the worst in the country, and now he wants us to set him loose on the legal system?


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