After yesterday’s fundraising reports were released, it appears Arkansas Republicans are a bit shell-shocked at Asa Hutchinson’s anemic fundraising.
Let’s take a look at the big picture.
Both Asa Hutchinson and Mike Ross are the establishment choices for their party’s gubernatorial nominations.
Asa ran for Governor back in 2006, so he should already have a strong financial backing lined-up. Asa is the potential titular head of a party that has seen growth over the past few election cycles.
Currently, Arkansas Republicans control the State Legislature, all four Congressional seats and one U.S. Senate seat. One would think the presumptive Republican nominee for Governor would therefore be rolling in campaign dough.
But he’s not.
Last financial quarter, Asa Hutchinson raised $378,795 and had $649,169 on hand. Hutchinson has had six full months to fundraise and so far has brought in $726,424.
On the other hand, Democratic candidate Mike Ross in just three months raised $1.97 million and has $1,696,125 on hand.
The Democrat is absolutely crushing the Republican when it comes to fundraising.
Republicans have what I call a “three-legged stool of spin” to defend Hutchinson’s paltry fundraising: 1) Asa has time to catch up. 2) Asa has an easy primary; Ross does not. 3) Asa leads in the polls.
Let’s kick out all the legs of that stool.
As I wrote yesterday, I believe that Bill Halter exits the governor’s race fairly soon, leaving Ross as the presumptive nominee. If that happens, this kicks out of one of the stool legs.
Hutchinson may slightly lead in early polls, but time is on Ross’s side to introduce himself to the rest of the state and rise in the polls. Ross has only run in one Congressional district, while Hutchinson has run statewide three times before and served as Congressman for the Third District. Asa is supposed to be in the lead at this point.
The final leg in Republican’s three-legged stool is that Hutchinson has time to catch up and raise the funds.
Actually, time may be running out for Hutchinson.
There is a powerful donor base in Arkansas, but they are not always driven by partisanship, since they donate to Democrats and Republicans, and they have not yet decided on whom they’ll back in a General Election.
These heavyweight contributors are motivated to donate to candidates they believe are friendly to business interests and are likely to win. These donors funded Mike Huckabee’s campaigns and then turned around and funded Mike Beebe’s races.
Ross, in these donors’ minds, is already a candidate who is business-friendly. Many are comfortable with the concept of Ross being Governor, but that doesn’t mean they support him just yet, it’s still too soon. They are also comfortable with Hutchinson being the next Governor.
However, if Ross continues to raise monster amounts of campaign cash, and Hutchinson does not, then these powerful contributors will begin to believe that Asa doesn’t have what it takes to win the race. They’ll then begin heavily funding Ross’s campaign, thus making it tougher for Asa to win.
Sound far-fetched? Have you already forgotten 2006? This is exactly what happened to Asa Hutchinson when he faced off against Mike Beebe and lost by twenty points.
It looks like we may be in for history repeating itself in 2014.
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